The world-acclaimed master of horror stories, Stephen King, has faced backlash over his comments about diversity in arts. The author opined that the only thing that matters when judging art is its quality and diversity should not be taken into account.
The King’s controversial tweet has coincided with lively social media discussions about the omission of women and people of color from leading Oscar categories such as acting or directing. According to many, King’s tweets dismissed all those concerns.
The famous author explicitly pointed out that in his capacity of a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, he is only allowed to vote in three categories – Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and the Best Original Screenplay.
The diversity issue has never been on the table for me, King added, highlighting that is only interested in the quality of the product. It would be wrong to act in another way, he concluded.
A quick look into the categories in which King is eligible to vote shows some diversity but they are hugely dominated by white male directors who also authored or co-authored their screenplays.
Not everyone in Hollywood agreed with Steven King. The director Ava DuVernay said that his comments were so ”backward and ignorant that you want to go back to bed.” The screenwriter Roxane Gay echoed her, adding that it was disappointing that King only believed in ”quality from one demographic.”
The horror books author later tried to clarify his viewpoint, highlighting that he genuinely believed in giving people equal opportunities. The critics did not stop.
Brittany Pakcnett, the former Obama advisor, tweeted that the way we measure art remains exclusive. In her opinion, ideas are never considered tasteful until worn on the ”right” type of an artist.
”The How to Get Away with a Murder?” actress, Viola Davis, was among the few celebrities that shared a similar view on art and diversity with Stephen King.
In an interview with Variety, Davis suggested that we should focus on the art, not on the prizes. The 53-year-old actor opined that we should first create high-quality movies that tell diverse stories with people of color in them.
Viola Davis became the first Afro-American woman to win an Academy Award, an Emmy Award, and a Tony Award for acting. She has always claimed her career advanced right after the began putting her ”authentic self first.”
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with Stephen King and Viola Davis that the quality of the art matters more than diversity?