oscars 2016

With Oscars Win, Alejandro G. Iñárritu Hopes #OscarsSoBrown Isn’t Next, Calls for People to Abandon Prejudices About Skin Color

88th Annual Academy Awards - Show
Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

When Alejandro González Iñárritu won his Oscar last night for directing The Revenant, he used the latter portion of his speech to discuss awards-season diversity. It was the Mexican helmer’s second consecutive win in the category, a feat that came amid crescendoing #OscarsSoWhite fallout. “I’m very lucky to be here tonight, okay? But unfortunately, many others haven’t had the same luck,” he said. “What a great opportunity to our generation to really liberate ourselves from all prejudice, and this tribal thinking, and make sure for once and forever that the color of our skin becomes as irrelevant as the length of our hair.” Though Iñárritu acknowledged the Academy’s much-discussed inclusion problem, he also seemed to be calling for a more color-blind mentality and meritocracy. His comments felt both genuine and timely, but they were drowned out and truncated by the show’s wrap-up music:

He was able to elaborate backstage, underlining for reporters that he believes the #OscarsSoWhite debate is not just black and white:

The debate is not only about black and white people … you know, what’s that mean? That now is #OscarSoBrown, or what? We are yellow and Native Americans and Latin Americans. So the complexity of the society of the world is much more than one or the other. It’s … becoming a little bit very polarized, very politicized, without observing the complexity and the beautiful [sic] of how this country’s being so mixed, as my country which is mixed, but this is a multi-mixed country. That is the real power of it. So anyway, what I am super impressed about is that still we are dragging this tribal thinking with this. I think one of the problems that we are suffering is there is no moderate platforms to talk about something deeply, very important, that in a way it’s deciding the destinies of people around the world — not only here — by the color of their skin. So that we are still dragging those prejudices and tribal thinking at this time? It seems to me absolutely absurd. In the ‘50s, I remember that the people that have long hair, the Beatles were considered like, Oh, my God, I will never. You know, and that was so stupid that now we laugh about it. Why we cannot get rid of those prejudices about the color of the skin is completely irrelevant.

Leonardo DiCaprio, fresh off his long-awaited Best Actor triumph, joined his director backstage with praise. “It’s incredible that two outsiders like [Emmanuel Lubezki] and Alejandro, that came from Mexico, came to our industry, were firm in their beliefs artistically, and here we have a two-time winner at the Academy Awards, and Chivo, a three-time winner,” he said. “These guys represent everything about what this industry is and what it should be.”

Iñárritu Hopes #OscarsSoBrown Isn’t Next