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Stephen King slammed for 'ignorant' tweet about not considering 'diversity' when voting for the Oscars

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Famed writer Stephen King has stirred up controversy after admitting he “would never consider diversity in matters of art,” a remark made in reference to his status as a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) voting on Oscar contenders. His remarks come a day after the 2020 Oscar nominations were announced, prompting complaints that women and people of color were largely overlooked. Many critics bemoaned the exclusion of women like Greta Gerwig from the Best Director category, while Harriet’s Cynthia Erivo spoke out about being the only person of color to be nominated across four acting categories.

King, whose prolific career has included big-screen adaptations of stories like The Shining, The Shawshank Redemption, Misery and Carrie, took to Twitter to address the “diversity issue.” The author explained that he is allowed to vote for three non-acting categories — Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay — and only judges entries based on “quality,” not “diversity.” (Across the two screenplay categories, two women, Little Women’s Greta Gerwig and 1917 co-writer Krysty Wilson-Cairns were nominated, as were South Koreans Bong Joon-ho and Jin Won Han (Parasite), Just Mercy’s Destin Daniel Cretton, whose mother is Japanese-American, and JoJo Rabbit’s Taika Waititi, whose father is Māori.)

But King’s comments had critics accusing him of having white privilege, dismissing the systemic bias against minorities, and implying that diverse work lacks quality. Director Ava DuVernay, of Selma and When They See Us fame, was among those calling out the author’s “backward and ignorant statement,” while writer Roxane Gay tweeted, “quality is everywhere but most industries only believe in quality from one demographic.”

Hours after his original tweet, King returned to Twitter to acknowledge the factors that keep women, people of color and the LGBTQ+ community from getting a “fair shot.”

“You can’t win awards if you’re shut out of the game,” he conceded.

But some, including DuVernay, took his follow-up tweets to be a calculated backpedaling.

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