Academy Awards Voters Discovered To Be Old, White, Male

February 20, 2012


Ever wonder who casts the votes that decide if Meryl Streep made-believe better than her competition in any given year? Well, the L.A. Times did a little investigating into the matter and, fairly unsurprisingly, that decision is left largely to the old white guys.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the identities of the Academy's nearly six-thousand members is a well-kept secret. There's no published list of members, and not everyone you'd assume to be a member actually is. For example, as a non-member, Woody Allen will not be able to vote for his Midnight in Paris this year, whereas Vin Diesel, a known member, will get the chance to give his vote to War Horse, which he enjoyed because he pretended the horse was a car. That's fucked up, right?

But the surprising case of Woody Allen v. Vin Diesel is about the only case of non-white youth triumphing over retirement-age caucasian guys you'll find in the membership roster. As the Times study found, the Academy's voting body looks pretty much like every other major decision-making party in the U.S.: a bunch of old white guys making largely-stupid choices that pretty much only other old white guys agree with. Oscar voters are reportedly almost 94% white and 77% male; black and Latino voters combined make up less than 4% of the Academy. That's a pretty huge discrepancy from the Academy Awards enrollment brochures, which always depict a crowd of hoodie-wearing mixed-race youths hangin' in the Academy quad.

Like the line in a Sizzler salad bar, the median age of the crowd is 62, and only 14% of the voting membership is under 50 years old. Just 2% is under 40. Basically, the higher the likelihood of a filmgoer drifting off in the middle of a film, the greater the chance they will later be voting that film as Best Sound Mixing for rousing them awake.

The report also brings to the light the fact that Academy membership is for life, meaning the voters can at times be far removed from the industry they're meant to be a part of. Through their study, the Times found this to be cast in numerous instances: one voter is now a nun; another a retired Peace Corps recruiter; still another used to be on CHiPs, but is now just Erik Estrada. Their votes are given just as much weight as the vote of Tom Hanks. TOM HANKS.

So, when Meryl Streep ends up winning Best Actress, even though you were sure Viola Davis was a pretty good bet, now you know who to blame for losing the office Oscar pool. As usual, blame mostly old white guys. And Erik Estrada.

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