Stephen King responds to controversy over tweet about Oscars diversity

Stephen King

Stephen King has responded to the controversy which erupted after he tweeted about not considering diversity when nominating films and writers for Oscars.

“As a writer, I am allowed to nominate in just 3 categories: Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Screenplay,” the author wrote on Jan. 14. “For me, the diversity issue — as it applies to individual actors and directors, anyway — did not come up. That said I would never consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality. It seems to me that to do otherwise would be wrong.”

King’s statement drew criticism from many, including Ava DuVernay. “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,” the Selma director responded on Twitter.

Today, in an article in The Washington Post titled “The Oscars are still rigged in favor of white people,” King addressed the criticism.

“Discussions of arts and culture, like discussions of politics, have become increasingly acrimonious and polarized in recent years,” the author of Carrie and The Shining writes. “Lines of belief are drawn with indelible ink, and if you step over them — wittingly or otherwise — you find yourself in the social-media version of the stocks and subject to a barrage of electronic turnips and cabbages.

“I stepped over one of those lines recently, by saying something on Twitter that I mistakenly thought was noncontroversial: ‘I would never consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality. It seems to me that to do otherwise would be wrong.’ The subject was the Academy Awards. I also said, in essence, that those judging creative excellence should be blind to questions of race, gender or sexual orientation.

“I did not say that was the case today, because nothing could be further from the truth. Nor did I say that films, novels, plays and music focusing on diversity and/or inequality cannot be works of creative genius. They can be, and often are. Ava DuVernay’s 2019 Netflix miniseries, When They See Us, about the wrongful convictions of the Central Park Five, is a splendid case in point.”

King concludes by writing that, “We don’t live in that perfect world, and this year’s less-than-diverse Academy Awards nominations once more prove it. Maybe someday we will. I can dream, can’t I? After all, I make stuff up for a living.”

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