We all like to joke and write long think pieces about how the Oscar voting is distressingly predictable and somewhat old fashioned in the movies they do and don’t shower accolades on. But as much as we all might complain about it, there’s not much we can do. There’s really only one organization that has the power to make changes and, in a somewhat surprising move, they have actually made some changes designed to increase diversity.
Beginning later this year, each new member’s voting status will last 10 years, and will be renewed if that new member has been active in motion pictures during that decade. In addition, members will receive lifetime voting rights after three ten-year terms; or if they have won or been nominated for an Academy Award. We will apply these same standards retroactively to current members. In other words, if a current member has not been active in the last 10 years they can still qualify by meeting the other criteria. Those who do not qualify for active status will be moved to emeritus status. Emeritus members do not pay dues but enjoy all the privileges of membership, except voting.
In addition to making it easier for the Academy to shed old voters who are no longer active in the industry, they’re also working to make sure that people who should be brought into the Academy are recognized:
At the same time, the Academy will supplement the traditional process in which current members sponsor new members by launching an ambitious, global campaign to identify and recruit qualified new members who represent greater diversity.
Obviously it will take time to feel the affects of these changes and won’t affect this year’s Oscars at all. But it’s a step in the right direction for an organization that most people feel is out of touch. I’m sure there are plenty of people who aren’t happy about these changes, but if the Academy wants people to think that they’re industry insiders who are consistently awarding the best work to come out in that year, it’s good for them to adjust their voting requirements to reflect that.