Today, The Hollywood Reporter posted an Awards Chatter podcast interviewing Weinstein co-chief Harvey Weinstein himself. Though a great deal of the interview discusses the history of the Weinstein Co. and Weinstein’s own personal experiences, the interviewing tactic of asking the uncomfortable, controversy-stirring question right at the end comes into play here. Weinstein doesn’t get to leave this pre-Oscars interview without voicing his own opinion on #OscarsSoWhite, which comes in only four minutes before the podcast terminates.
Thankfully, Weinstein’s answers were more considered than some that we’ve heard, and offered a far better solution than the simple, inane “these things just take time, it’ll happen eventually with patience” statements from so many celebrities.
Weinstein first stated his encouragement of the boycott:
It’s that voice, actually, that gets people motivated, because you don’t want the boycott. That’s how people use their personal power to force change. So I look at that and go, ‘Great,’ because everybody’s thinking about it now.
He mentions how when Weinstein Co. released three prestigious movies in one year whose stars were people of color — Mandela, Fruitvale Station and The Butler — all that was nominated out of those three movies was U2 — for best song. “And then, that year,” he says, “there was 12 Years a Slave, and I said, ‘What is it, only one?'”
Weinstein seems to excitedly anticipate Chris Rock skewering Hollywood, naming that as one reason not to boycott:
If anybody’s [planning on] boycotting the Oscars, don’t, because Chris Rock is gonna annihilate every one of us [leaders of Hollywood studios/distribution companies] in the first 20 minutes of the show, and it will be well worth watching. It will be an Oscars to remember.
Despite all of this, he doesn’t agree with the decision of the Academy to change its membership rules, because they exclude “people who’ve worked so hard all their lives and prize that Academy card and have reached that zenith and then go on to retirement.” His suggested solution to Hollywood’s whiteness problem, rather, is that it’s people in roles like his who need to change. “It’s up to us, the people who produce, not penalizing Academy members. I just don’t think it’s fair that people who are in the Academy are penalized. There’s another way to get there.” He implies that getting nominations for actors of color is as simple as studios deciding to actually make more films about people of color a year.
Perhaps. But — even better: both the producers and the Academy should change.