Don't expect the Coen brothers to issue any apologies for contributing to the #OscarsSoWhite phenomenon: In a recent interview, the makers of Hail, Caesar! dismissed concerns that the film features an almost entirely white cast.
Joel Coen maintained that while diversity is important, the Oscars are not important. In any case, a filmmaker's first obligation is to tell his story the "right" way, not the politically-correct way. (Hail, Caesar! was just released and isn't up for any awards this year, but the Coens were nominated for penning the Bridge of Spies screenplay.)
When The Daily Beast asked why there weren't more minorities in Hail, Caesar!'s cast, Coen fired back with, "Why would there be?"
"I don't understand the question. No—I understand that you're asking the question, I don't understand where the question comes from.
"Not why people want more diversity—why they would single out a particular movie and say, 'Why aren't there black or Chinese or Martians in this movie? What's going on?' That's the question I don't understand. The person who asks that question has to come in the room and explain it to me."
As filmmakers, is it important or not important to consciously factor in concerns like diversity, I asked.
"Not in the least!" Ethan [Coen] answered. "It's important to tell the story you're telling in the right way, which might involve black people or people of whatever heritage or ethnicity—or it might not."
Their statements are almost shockingly honest, given that they seem likely to provoke the wrath of the social media left. The Washington Free Beacon's Sonny Bunch comments, "That's an incredibly blunt—and, frankly, incredibly refreshing—answer….Anyway, I'm curious to see how these comments are received."
In any case, while the controversy over this year's Oscars has revolved around the assumption that the awards show isn't representative of America's broader diversity, Freethink Media's Kmele Foster recently pointed out the shaky math behind that theory. As he said on Fox and Friends:
"Twenty percent of the wins in the 'Best Actor' category, for example, have gone to black actors. Blacks are not 20% of the population; they're around 13% of the population…12.4% of the nominations have gone to black actors…
I don't doubt the sentiment here. I don't doubt that people are concerned about this issue. I don't doubt that you're sincere in your concern about this issue. What I'm suggesting to you is that when I look at the actual facts here—the data—since 2000 to today, that across various categories, the fact of the matter is that blacks, relative to their percentage of the population, have been over-represented in some sense, not under-represented.
And it's important to acknowledge that because regardless of who's doing the nominating, it's a 'fair' outcome."