Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Oscars: Left Torches Stephen King for Saying Quality Matters in the Arts, Not Diversity

Author and Trump hater Stephen King is feeling the heat from fellow liberals following his tweets about the Academy Award nominations, in which he said that quality is more important than diversity when it comes to creating works of art.

Filmmaker Ava DuVernay hit back at King, calling his comments “backward and ignorant.” Author Laura Lippman also called out King, saying that the Hollywood system is “rigged.”

Roxane Gay, the author and contributing opinion writer at The New York Times, expressed her disappointment in King, saying that “most industries only believe in quality from one demographic.”

King has become a darling among left-wing Hollywood types and the cultural elite for his vehement anti-Trump stance. The author of The Shining and Misery has repeatedly insulted President Donald Trump and his supporters on social media, calling him a “horse’s ass” and a “vile, racist, and incompetent bag of guts.

Stephen King posted his diversity comments in reaction to mainstream media outrage over the Oscar nominations on Monday.

Hollywood journalists turned their knives on the the Academy for what they saw as a lack of diversity among this year’s acting categories. Harriet actress Cynthia Erivo was the only non-white acting nominee this year, prompting journalists to resurrect the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag.

The absence of female nominees in the directing category also irked industry reporters, who had been rooting for Greta Gerwig to land a nomination for Little Women. While Gerwig was shut out of the directing category, Little Women earned multiple nominations including nods for best picture as well as Gerwig’s adapted screenplay.

The It writer-producer reacted to the avalanche of negative press coverage with a series of tweets in which he said that diversity shouldn’t be a consideration when making art.

“I would never consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality. It seems to me that to do otherwise would be wrong,” he wrote.

…I would never consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality. It seems to me that to do otherwise would be wrong.

— Stephen King (@StephenKing) January 14, 2020

The author noted that as a member of the Academy’s writers branch, he is allowed to nominate in only three categories: adapted screenplay, original screenplay, and best picture.

“For me, the diversity issue–as it applies to individual actors and directors, anyway–did not come up,” he tweeted.

His comments have nonetheless provoked a strong negative reaction from the left.

Ava DuVernay responded Tuesday by calling King’s “backward and ignorant.”

When you wake up, meditate, stretch, reach for your phone to check on the world and see a tweet from someone you admire that is so backward and ignorant you want to go back to bed. https://t.co/nPXOeAebkb

— Ava DuVernay (@ava) January 14, 2020

Writer Roxane Gay wrote that King’s comments were “painful to read” because she is a fan of his novels.

As a fan, this is painful to read from you. It implies that diversity and quality cannot be synonymous. They are not separate things. Quality is everywhere but most industries only believe in quality from one demographic. And now, here you are.

— roxane gay (@rgay) January 14, 2020

Author Laura Lippman tweeted back that “a meritocracy could work only if the game weren’t rigged.”

With all due respect, I'm afraid that a meritocracy could work only if the game weren't rigged.

— Laura Lippman (@LauraMLippman) January 14, 2020

Following the backlash, King seemed to qualify his earlier comments, saying in a series of follow-up tweets that the creative community needs to ensure that “everyone has the same fair shot, regardless of sex, color, or orientation.”

He added: “You can’t win awards if you’re shut out of the game.”

The most important thing we can do as artists and creative people is make sure everyone has the same fair shot, regardless of sex, color, or orientation. Right now such people are badly under-represented, and not only in the arts.

— Stephen King (@StephenKing) January 14, 2020

You can't win awards if you're shut out of the game.

— Stephen King (@StephenKing) January 14, 2020

DuVernay didn’t appear to accept King’s attempt to qualify his diversity comments.

Wait until people begin to tweet you with the cleanup tweet he posted two hours later to justify it all. pic.twitter.com/6fcXy5h8q5

— Ava DuVernay (@ava) January 14, 2020

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