‘Animal House’ Star Stephen Furst Protests Academy Rule Changes

'Animal House' Actor Stephen Hurst Writes
Courtesy of Stephen Furst

Stephen Furst, an actor known for playing “Flounder” in “Animal House” and appearing on “Babylon 5” who has more recently worked mostly as a director and producer, wrote to the Academy of Motion Pictures to comment on the recent membership rule changes enacted to promote diversity and offered his letter to be posted by Variety. Opinions are those of Furst and not necessarily of Variety.

Dear Ms. Boone, Ms. Munoz, and Board of Governors,

In less than a week after (according to Associated Press) “a handful of actors” decided that they were going to boycott The Oscars, the Academy Board of Governors has concluded that I am racist, not to mention, irrelevant. In fact, I am very far from either. Whether I am an active member of the Academy is secondary to me at this point, considering the insulting and unfounded generalities the Academy has made about the character and judgment of older Academy members.

Like many other members I know, I was saddened, as well as offended, to learn the Academy Board of Governors has chosen to scapegoat the older members of the Academy in order to deflect the criticism about the lack of diversity this year in the nominees for Academy Awards. I know that there has been much public conversation about why the nominees this year do not include any minorities, with the focus being on the membership having so many old, white, male members.  The Academy has therefore bowed to this explanation, in a most disturbing manner, although there is no evidence that old, white, male Academy members are racist, do not appreciate the art of minorities, or refuse to vote for minorities’ work.

Diversity in film is important, and having that diversity represented in Oscar nominees is important, but those goals aren’t achieved by disparaging the wonderful filmmakers of all races and ethnicities who have made lasting impressions and opened minds and hearts across the world through the art of film.

The Academy can’t fight issues with diversity by engaging in ageism and sexism.

But it promotes fairness — and diversity — by ensuring members see the films before voting.

Your open letter states that “‘The Academy is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up.’” Apparently, the Board of Governors believes kicking aside the older voters is some sort of a solution to a lack of diversity in the industry. But of course it isn’t. And, with that statement, the Academy evidently fails to recognize that the film industry isn’t particularly kind to older industry people, period, any more than it is to minority ones. By eliminating older members from your voting rolls, you are hardly leading the way. You are simply imitating the worst aspects of the industry, adding insult to injury. And, as far as that sexism goes: Many successful actresses have a hard time getting work in the business when they hit their 30s or 40s and they may choose to take a break from film to be with their families. Whether they quit the business, work in television or, like Meryl Streep, work less for awhile, they are still relevant.

In your original letter you use the words “active members.” This is extremely vague. A second email from Ms. Munoz acknowledges that members have questions about what that means, but then doesn’t answer the question.

There are many reasons why some members might be considered inactive:

1. They change roles in the film industry. I myself have been very active as a director and producer in recent years.

2. Veteran filmmakers have decided to turned to mentoring young future filmmakers.

3. Some filmmakers currently work on acclaimed TV series. They may return to film in some capacity, but their current work will inform and enrich their film work.

4. A film may not be released and qualify for an Academy award in a given year.

5. An actress — or actor — who was accomplished enough to become an Academy member decides to put her career on hold to raise a family.

Are these people irrelevant because they have not worked in their branch for 10 years? Actually, those people are the most objective, not having their own work to promote.

One of the main reasons for the lack of diversity in nominees this year is that many members vote without watching all the films. I probably am in a minority myself, because I watched 95% of the screeners sent out. That’s the minority you should be focusing on preserving, because that’s how you preserve integrity in the nominations.  But I seriously doubt that ANY member of the Academy refuses to nominate someone because of their race, ethnicity or gender.

I myself nominated Straight Outta Compton, Beasts of No Nation, Abraham Attah, Zoe Saldana, Jason Mitchell, and Tessa Thompson. There were so many fine performances and films that I could have nominated 10 in each category and still run out of space. With your new rules, you make it clear that by shaking up the membership, you expect a different result as more minorities join the Academy. But this isn’t Alabama in the 1960s. White members don’t only vote for white nominees, and I trust minority members will not favor only minority ones. Minority films and actors are regularly nominated, but not every year. Even Meryl Streep doesn’t get nominated every year.

Fairness in voting will probably increase the numbers of minorities who are nominated. This is an integrity issue, not a racism issue. The Academy does not have power over what films producers and studios make, but the Academy can take steps in assuring that member see a certain percentage of films before they are allowed to vote. Those who don’t are the people that should have their vote taken away for that season.

Doing away with screeners and streaming the films with a password that allows the Academy to keep a tally on how many films a member actually watched would be a much better way to promote fairness in the nomination process.

The framed Academy certificate of membership on my wall reads “Having demonstrated excellence in the art, science, or industry of the motion picture.” It doesn’t say “relevance in popular motion pictures.” I know many extraordinary, devoted and intelligent members who will no longer be able vote under your new rule. Dismissing their accomplishments as being too long ago to matter is a mistake. The new rules may well result in a revolving door of membership, but it will not help the promotion of excellence in film.

The Academy should indeed diversify its membership — it should have done it years ago, but must you demean your older members in the process? Why not simply increase the membership temporarily? In the great film “Hotel Rwanda,” when the sheer numbers of people seeking sanctuary threaten to overwhelm the hotel’s resources, Don Cheadle, as Paul Rusesabagina, says simply: “There’s always room.” There’s always room.

Respectfully,

Stephen Furst

Curmudgeon Films

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 82

Leave a Reply

82 Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. David Isecke says:

    @Neville. I’m not sure that is the most vile post I’ve ever seen, but its a contender. So now *most* white police officers are “murderous thugs”? Let me ask you a reality based question, genius. Who kills more black youth each year in America: racist cops or other black youth? You might get this right on the second guess.

  2. Denna Thackeray says:

    The Academy should diversify, but who says you have to throw anybody out to do that? You can’t make love with hate and ugliness, and you can’t create equality for one group by kicking another one down, even if you think they’ve had enough privilege and you want to see them suffer. And they’ll still be plenty of old white male members in the Academy once they kick some people out.

  3. Anonymous says:

    “Animal House” was a fun movie and Furst was great in it, but that movie is 40 years old and a one-off for the actor (not may other big feature film credits). It seems that Mr. Furst’s credits are mostly in television and perhaps he would be a better member of the television academy rather than the film academy. Purging the older, less active, less film-centric groups of academy members is absolutely necessary to make room for qualified younger members who are actually active in the film business. If you haven’t made a major film in 30 or 40 years, then you shouldn’t be allowed to vote (no matter how many screeners you prove you’ve watched).

    • Denna Thackeray says:

      From watching the Academy Awards and from the people who have responded to the nomination controversy, I know that there are all kinds of people in the Academy. There are writers, directors, musicians, editors, even actors you never heard of because they are “bit players” (just watch the in memoriam section). Can you imagine if the only members were the current “big shots” in movies? Ha, ha: they’d all vote only for themselves and nobody would win! Maybe nobody should win. Maybe it’s the Academy Awards that are too old.

  4. Indiefilm says:

    People like Stephen Furst is part of the problem. He’s doesn’t want change and doesn’t want diversity. The same ole racism. And to say this isn’t the 50s/60s only shows his hate and ignorance. The last time I checked racial discrimination still exists. Many of those old racist, white men are still around. Passing the hate down to each generation. You can’t hide that. And it won’t be tolerated. When it’s time to get on a public forum to discuss these issues, he’ll go running with his tail between his legs. The same goes for those who agree with him on these comments. With that said Furst gives absolutely zero credibility.

    • Denna Thackeray says:

      There’s nothing in this article that’s hateful. There’s loads of hate in your post, though. And hate is not the way to inclusion.

  5. Mackie Messer says:

    Look, the Academy voting membership is 94% white! How can anyone not see that as a problem in 2016? Why does this number exist? The country isn’t 94% white. If you think this is fine the way it is, are you saying “The blacks don’t need the vote?” Because that sounds awfully familiar.

    • Denna Thackeray says:

      How do you know the statistics? The Academy doesn’t put those out. People in the actors branch who have responded to statements like that have said that the minority representation in the actors branch is around 20%. The one nomination that definitely should have happened is Straight Outta Compton. That WAS one of the best movies of the year. And, according to the Academy, most members voted for it, just not enough in first place, so it didn’t make the cut. Beasts of No Nation and Idris Elba were on Netflix, on TV, so, the Academy members may have been thinking it was a TV movie instead of film, so it didn’t get nominated that way. Don’t be so quick to see hate. Lead with love and light, I say. Hate and anger destroy the vessel.

  6. mikeyboo says:

    Excellent post, Mr. Furst!!!

  7. PC says:

    Not sure if its appropriate to compare affluent white Americans with people fleeing from murderous thugs!

  8. Well thought out and stated. As always, you are a class act Stephen!

  9. Beth CP says:

    Thank you Mr. Furst for you thoughtful letter. Let’s hope that TPTB take it to heart and act on some(if not all), of your suggestions.

  10. Nanny Mo says:

    Steven, lead a call for the board and president to resign (or be removed, if need be) and for there to be a NEW election of the board and president from the membership.

  11. Steven Furst is so right about this latest kerfuffle. As a movie goer I support his fair and balanced views on what is clearly a non-racial, non-gender issue.

    And by the way, I don’t see many white faces at the BET awards.

    • Mackie Messer says:

      What a stupid comment. I bet you really thought you made a point. You show just how intellectually shallow, insensitive and unthinking people who oppose opening up the membership really are. BET and its awards exist PRECISELY because the Academy has been so historically poor in its inclusion. For generations, Black people had the choice of being ignored or starting their own Awards to honor their work. You probably think they should have just stood on the sidelines while white people honored each other and let their own work go unrecognized in any way?

      • Ken Shabby says:

        If that’s true, what are you complaining about the Oscars for, then? You’ve got BET, right?

  12. Equality says:

    I feel that public dialogue has drifted away from an even more important and urgent topic, namely, equality. Diversity and equality are not the same and surely the latter is far more vital.

    So please give a mention to equality which remains the real topic of the day; because diversity alone does not guarantee equality nor acceptance. For if equality is forgotten in this equation then I fear the chatter about diversity amounts to little more than political window dressing instead of achieving the desired result.

  13. james heckel says:

    Well put Mr. Furst. The ham-fisted response by the Academy (throw out the old white guys, bring in more people of color) to this so called diversity “crisis” would be laughable if they weren’t serious. I don’t think race was a factor in anyone’s vote, nor should it be. It just so happens that, for example, Will Smith didn’t make the cut. If he had been nominated, this kerfuffle would never have developed. Diversity would have been served. Never mind that the nominees would still have been overwhelmingly white.

    Substituting one form of discrimination for another is does nothing to advance diversity. It only advances discrimination.

  14. Not only is this a well thought out response to the current situation, you offer solutions. Bravo.

    “Doing away with screeners and streaming the films with a password that allows the Academy to keep a tally on how many films a member actually watched would be a much better way to promote fairness in the nomination process.”

  15. Justin Edinburgh says:

    Articulate and thoughtful – a much better way to address an issue rather than nonsense posts on Facebook or Instagram. This won’t get the same coverage as the sensationalist and misdirected hashtag campaign but that says more about the lack of though that went into that and social media in general.

  16. njoilyfe says:

    Of all the responses that challenged the idea of #oscarsowhite I must say that I appreciated this one. Mr. Furst (Flounder to most…forever Dr. Axelrod to me) eloquently made his point and clearly stated his position. As an avid black oscar watcher of Caribbean descent (an avid watcher since 1977) it always made an impression on me when someone of non white descent won an oscar. I remember the feeling when Haing Ngor and Louis Gossett Jr. won their Oscars….it opened up so many possibilities for me. I think people in general should stop believing that their whiteness is threatened…and that people of so called color are also movie fans that want to see themselves in an industry that almost excludes us.

    • njoilyfe says:

      EDIT…. The last sentence should read…. “and respect that people of so called color are also movie fans that want to see themselves in an industry that almost excludes us.”

  17. BC says:

    F the Academy. Seriously, just F the Academy, and F Hollywood. Best thing that could happen would be a massive earthquake that takes L.A. to the bottomless hell it belongs.

  18. jamiekins says:

    Change is inevitable in everything, I don’t see the point of some losing voting rights for any reason. How is it that they can’t just add more members. Why does anyone have to lose the rights they have earned ? Can’t the Academy count that high ?

  19. Pstein says:

    I would agree that I am astounded that “Beasts of No Nation” and “Straight Outta Compton” were ignored. But we live in a culture were everyone gets a trophy. So that no one feels bad. I hope that there is not a system that makes all of this “Marketing” even more ridiculous. Award ARTISTRY. Period.

  20. Frank says:

    From the Academy’s additional improvements to guarantee diversity: “We’ve created three new governor seats, to be nominated by the president, and voted on by the board. These three seats will be filled by women and people of color, and the changes will take place in February.”

    So if you’re a white male, you’re not eligible due to your sex and the color of your skin… Well that puts to rest all those allegations of racism…

  21. blue439 says:

    I actually like Furst’s recommendation about watching all the nominees. But I also like the Academy’s changes. The two are not mutually exclusive. It’s not ageism if people who have not actively worked in the industry in 10 years lose their voting privileges. Young people who have dropped out would also be affected. However, in the present situation where Academy members receive screeners and don’t watch all the nominees I think it’s very easy — too easy — for people to fall back on old habits and prejudices. Of course, there’s no guarantee that younger, more diverse Academy members wouldn’t do the same — neglect watching all the nominees and vote their prejudices. That’s fine, everybody has prejudices. The point is, their prejudices would be likely be DIFFERENT.

  22. Justin says:

    This is so much more reasonable than Stephen Verona’s protestation. Who let Verona into the Academy, that was a joke of an acceptance.

  23. tlsnyder42 says:

    I forgot. There was a GREAT movie a couple years ago called 42, with tremendous performances by both Harrison Ford and Chadwick Boseman, the story of Jackie Robinson. Guess it wasn’t politically correct enough, or “gay” enough, for Oscar.

  24. charcramer says:

    Well said, Stephen Furst! Much respect. He said it perfectly.

  25. Daniel says:

    Just look at the hosts of recent years with the Academy desperate to appeal to the younger crowds, failing, and the fear they have is obvious. They are so transparent, like an airline hostess.

  26. Black Spartacus says:

    ‘All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.’ – Orwell’s Animal Farm.
    Just more Minority Report Pre-Racism, when all the facts aren’t known. Just Guilty Till Proven Innocent. Like in the case of George Zimmerman, and Officer Wilson. Now it’s Spike Lee, and Jada Pinkett Smith who accuse others of Racism and they’re all always right because they’re not WHITE! This is a POLICE STATE, convicting people of an act, regardless of the TRUTH! Where is the evidence of Academy Racism?? Does Jada, or Spike have any DOCUMENTS to back things up??? If there is a Conspiracy against Blacks and other Minority Groups there should be documentation of the alleged racism? Do we burn books next?? Fahrenheit 451, lets erase all of white history! What’s sad is we are living in a Police State in this day and age and nobody can see it! I feel like I’m living in a Philip K. Dick novel! Or something from Orwell! It’s not about Racism as the Narrative dictates. It’s about Controlling Others Though Social Engineering PEOPLE! WAKE UP!

  27. the truth says:

    Agreed on every point. Replacing purported racism for ageism isn’t the answer. It’s hard for me to understand that the same academy that recognized 12Years is now racist. The members that Cheryl and Dawn want to marginalize are the same ones that marched in Selma and Washington and now they are being disenfranchised. The answer is to add diverse members and swell the ranks– NOT to kick our mentors to the curb.

  28. tlsnyder42 says:

    Suddenly, after giving awards in recent years to Halle Berry, Denzel Washington, Forest Whittaker, Jennifer Hudson, Mo’Nique, Lupita Nyong’o, and Octavia Spencer, and millions of dollars to the worst, meanest, most partisan president in my lifetime, Barack Obama, Hollywood and Oscar voters are suddenly racist??? Sorry, I’m not buying it. If anything, it’s been ignoring movies that don’t fit the elite left’s idea of political correctness and traditional sexuality.

    • Richierich says:

      Are you kidding me?!?!?! So what there have been a few black Oscar winners that’s not the point. .the point is there have been very suspect ways of how the nomination have been picked the past few years..when we CLEARLY know the movies or actors that should have been nominated were not were the films that so happen to be minority films or minority actors. Whether or not it’s OLD WHITE MEN who deciding, it’s still happened on there watch .

      • Pstein says:

        I would guess that tisnyder42 has invested in the “Christian Movie Brigade”. Maybe if you work enough you have a Health Plan. If not “The meanest, most Partisan President” has given Healthcare too many that did not have it. Are you one of those people at the DGA screenings that I see that haven’t worked in years, if EVER? I am SURE you thought “Braveheart” was a revelation.

  29. raven says:

    wow, I’m shocked Variety didn’t try to change the wording in his comments so he could be attacked by a million haters on social media and then pretend later it was just an “error.”

  30. Donna says:

    Thank you Mr Furst for so eloquently stating the issue. Instant change brought about by pressure is not a solution.

  31. TheBigBangof20thCenturyPopCulture says:

    Fair awards consideration on merit is mathematically impossible when you have a subjectively elite exclusive majority. All they had to do was make sure that popular ballot choices match population demographics. That’s called democracy and not a quota system. This purge will backfire for one glaring reason. Who are the Academy members who don’t work enough to maintain their vote? Aside from older folks forced out to pasture, it’s other minorities or ethnics marginalized by the system and segregated to subclass work or stereotypes. What this will do is reveal the truth that movie land would rather not have you know. That discrimination in Hollywood affects all minorities and not just blacks.

  32. Beautifully stated. And I do hope that the Oscars don’t become so immersed in this that the show becomes political grandstanding and lectures about what is fair and unfair vs. the true work of actors who are nominated and participating.

    P.S. I love the idea of the streaming movies so that people are held accountable for how many movies they actually watched and voted on. I know that SAG is doing this more and more with their screeners and now with HDMI cables, it is easy to watch on a big screen (television vs. computer). People could be held accountable and possibly reprimanded or suspended if they aren’t actually watching all of the screeners.

    Please stop the scapegoating by blaming the current members of the Academy.

    • Lisa says:

      Umm, on one hand you’re asking us not to skapegoat the current members but on the other hand you are inferring that members may not watching be watching all the screeners.

      • Excuse me, but the word you mean is “implying”, not “inferring”. In fact, neither is true, however. The original post, while not clearly worded, is still understandable. Stop scapegoating older members in general, while ignoring those, of any age, who don’t watch the screeners. Also, as you are typing, you don’t actually need to write “Umm”, with all due respect.

  33. Lauri Tribb says:

    👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻 Mr. Furst has-eloquently stated the heart of the matter. The academy has taken the stance that they must throw the “baby out with the bath water” in order to achieve diversity within their voting process amoung the members. Those members have earned that privilege, through their body of work rather it be 50 years ago or five minutes ago. Their relevance should not be dismissed summarily because a minority was not nominated in any of the leading categories. Nor should their relevance be dismissed because age, race or what have you done “lately” i.e current films. The movies business is a multi billion dollar business. It’s ruthless and cutthroat enough without throwing stones or fellow actors, or members of the voting academy under the proverbial bus. As a member of the mere mortal class….a movie goer who pays hundreds of dollars a year to see these movies, rather they are great or they out right suck, we have no say so in who should win. Perhaps the Board of Governors in its infinite wisdom should consider diversity not only insuring its voting members actually see the films, actors, technicians body of work for consideration., They should also consider including members of public in that process..After all without tickets, the discussion voting diversity would not even be in question.

  34. Thank you Mr. Furst for such a wonderful and well written letter. Promoting diversity in any field can never be accomplished via an alternate form of discrimination and by narrowing the scope of those allowed to play. The very people who created this industry are perhaps the ones we do wish to have a say, the seasoned veterans with an eye for craft and true appreciation and personal investment in the art. Diversity through discrimination is absurd.

    As a side note, many years ago when I was joining the actors union, qualification standards were much stricter, and number of credits needed were double what they are now – for caucasian actors only. I had to work twice as hard, pay twice as much and do twice the mount of training to play in the same arena with my “ethnic counterparts”. Two very prominent casting directors at the time also told that because I am female that there were one tenth of the roles, and because I am blonde and there was such a push to hire ethnically diverse actors that the chances of me being cast were slim to none and had nothing to do with my talents or abilities.
    I didn’t whine or complain that it was grossly unfair and discriminatory, which it clearly was. I got on with it, worked had, did my job and have made my living in the industry for twenty years. I wish I had complained loudly at the time. And I applaud EVERYONE who has the courage to speak up now. But refusing to play or being forbidden to do so will never be the way to bring us all together.

    • IndieFilm says:

      LOL, who are you fooling with that fabrication? I’m sure you worked hard, but to say a blonde white woman had it hard compared to ethnic actresses is…….. ridiculous. Hollywood caters to your type 100%. No ones gonna believe that crap. The only courage people have is the bigotry against minority actors. You’re apart a predominantly white Hollywood. You are the majority. So you say wish you would have complained a long time again. As in what??? Complain that actors of color are getting opportunities that we deserve as well. if you wanna go out in public taking the nonsense you’ll get laughed at. And expose yourself as a bitter, racist bigoted, dumb blonde. I dare you, go do it, LOL. That’s totally pathetic. The only thing absurd is discrimination period. And it’s obvious you’re perfectly fine with an all white Hollywood. You all a narrowing the scope to cater to yourselves moron.

      • IndieFilm says:

        Just a bitter racist bitch who’s mad because actors of color got opportunities. That’s what your comment is all about. It’s speaks volumes of your true character. By viewing your film credits and year gaps, you didn’t do much anyway. Dozens and dozens of white actresses are successful compared to black actresses. So that pretty much tells me that you’re probably weren’t that good compared to other black or white talent. You’re blaming others for your own failures.

  35. Lisa says:

    I don’t think Flounder is in any position to defend an actress who has ‘taken time out to raise a family’ What that last phrase really means is she has been pushed out, because the industry doesn’t tolerate a woman being able to have a career and child at the same time. We’re not far from when actresses were not photographed whilst pregnant or were asked to leave shows when they were pregnant or even had it in their contracts that they couldn’t get pregnant.
    Women can have both a career and children.

    • Data1001 says:

      Also, Furst doesn’t limit his comment to women — note that that point specifically says “An actress — or actor…”

      Rick Moranis is one such example of an actor who left the business to spend more quality time with his kids. He has done a smattering of voice work since the last “Honey I… the Kids” film, but that’s probably stuff he can do in his jammies, or at least without having to travel, if he didn’t want to.

    • Working Mom says:

      No, it means just that: she took time off to focus on family. You do realize that women still do that, right? And there’s nothing wrong with it. Not every woman wants to juggle babies and a full-time job, and they have the right to make that choice.

      Or maybe you don’t know this because you’re too young, in which case then don’t speak about things you don’t know about.

  36. Stacey K says:

    I agree with Stephen’s points. The problem does not lie solely in the membership but the nomination & voting process itself. All categories should have more than 5 nominees at this point. And since they allow up to 10 nominees in the Best Picture category why did 8 only make the cut? Members need to nominate more per category and as he stated, it should only be members who watched over a certain percentage of the films. Diversity does mean including all not raising one minority’s presence by cutting a different group’s.

    • Lisa says:

      Unless the numbers are in front of us, we don’t know for sure how many of the senior members are white males. However, the president does know, and she is acting on it accordingly, given the circumstances. What the Academy is doing is balancing itself out. And diversity, in this case, does mean decreasing the majority’s presence and increasing a different group. So in 20 years or so, it will be representative of the real population.This is the only way. Cut the fat.
      What’s sad is how many white males are so afraid to let others have a chance. We see it in the actors; comments as well as comments on here and elsewhere on the internet. Maybe people should start reflecting on why they are so afraid of the status quo being shaken. Sometimes you just have to quit fighting and let go. It’s over boys.

  37. Ruth Deutsch says:

    The “powers that be” apparently were not thinking about the points raised here…and perhaps they will re-think any changes for the total membership next time instead of just listening to the complaints made with loud voices, even if those complaints are justified. Tis a can of worms, and someone should make an Oscar-worthy documentary film about it, starring all the various players! Perhaps it would be nominated – HA!!!!

  38. TheBigBangof20thCenturyPopCulture says:

    Instead of fixing the voting process, the Academy will in effect be forcing old school membership to retire. Looks like they’re trading racism for ageism, the worst ism in Hollywood. When the smoke clears, there will be a bunch of lawsuits and we’ll find that there are those left out and marginalized worse than blacks. Big can of worms to open for a biz wherein content quality has jumped the shark.

  39. Keep Flounder, but dump the REALLY old dudes says:

    Very good points, but reading between the lines, I think that Cheryl Isaacs and the Academy brass KNOW that it’s the over 70 crowd that are the ones holding back the Academy Awards from being relevant. They just can’t say that.

    Seriously, does anyone think it’s a good idea to give voting rights FOR LIFE? You REALLY think an 85 year old understands the current entertainment landscape?

    Retirement applies in every other business, why not in Oscars voting?

    • CSS says:

      Tell that to Clint Eastwood

      • Keep Flounder, but dump the REALLY old dudes says:

        I INCLUDE Clint Eastwood, especially, because he is a lazy, old, senile curmudgeon of a filmmaker who shoots glorified TV movies.

    • You’re misusing the word relevant. We already have a People’s Choice Awards and an MTV Movie Awards where things like “Speed” and “300” win movie of the year, why do you want to do the same to the Oscars? It’s supposed to be dedicated to excellence in cinema, not the current entertainment landscape, whatever you think that means. Yes, audience’s tastes may change, as well as the average age of the American moviegoer, that does not mean we should lower the standard of excellence.

    • Lisa says:

      Well, you just said it! And thank you for that.

  40. Jake says:

    This is so correct in so many ways. Why promote diversity by instituting ageism???? You don’t include others by telling another that they are not needed

    • Lisa says:

      Because it’s the old farts that are voting for their own! Come on! It’s the changing of guards. And those guards are old and rickety! The academy, right now, does not represent the current population. And anybody who argues against that is absolutely delusional.

  41. brownies says:

    Yawn, but you let Harvey Weinstein buy noms, awards, and commit category fraud every year! Every trade wrote about category fraud that he was doing with The Danish Girl and Carol, but race is bought up and now you have a issue with the Academy. All a bunch of phonies!

  42. Lisa says:

    What in the world? Who is this guy? Animal House is his claim to fame? No wonder Seth Rogen is still around. Sheesh.

    • Neville Ross says:

      What the frack does Seth Rogen got to do with Furst and him being in the industry? Just because they look the same?

    • Phil Goldman says:

      I’m sorry, is there some rule about what films someone has to be associated with before their comments are to be considered relevant by you?!? I thought he did an excellent job of articulating his concerns. Don’t attack the messenger, comment on what he said. We live in a time that when someone of color yells foul, we all scramble to change things. Sometimes things should be changed and sometimes it’s merely a matter of “life ain’t fair.” And I don’t mean that people should ever e treated any different because of their color… and that goes both ways.

  43. Kenmandu says:

    I agree. As woody Allen has often said pitting movies and actors dealing with such diverse subject matter against each other creates the difficulty since picture and their intent are so diverse in the first place. Hard to say if one performance is better than another. Comic actors never get oscars but show me a greater actor than Peter sellers was or Chaplin. Should comic actors boycott? Giving prizes is the problem in the first place and the attitudes of studio execs is probably the biggest.

  44. Carlton says:

    Flounder makes a good point. What the Academy proposes is really discrimination based on age. There is no evidence showing that any failure to nominate actors of color is due to the fact that the older members won’t vote for people of color. The members of the cinematographers’ branch, for instance, don’t participate in the nomination of actors – so why should they be held responsible for the lack of nominees of color by actors? The action taken by the Academy Board does not make sense and it bears no relationship to the issue.

    • Lisa says:

      Oh, but there is, indeed, much evidence to show that older voters vote for white (men). Let us not be naive. Getting rid of older voters is exactly what the academy needs to do because older white male voters have ‘allegiances’ to certain older ideology that is not congruent with nominating anyone else but their own.
      It’s time to call a spade a spade.

      • Mike says:

        Lisa would not know a good movie if it bit her in the face. But yes, if directed by or starring someone black, she would support it. What a racist and age bigot she is. She will be old too one day…even as she must be a teenager today.

      • You’re so wrong. Whites, as a majority, DO NOT play favoritism among whites since that’s such a large section of the population – you can’t play favorites when you’re talking about half the population. Blacks have a “let’s stick together” policy that seems like community and solidarity, but actually becomes something overwhelmingly prejudiced. Case in point: WE’RE NOT EVEN REALLY TALKING ABOUT DIVERSITY IN FILM RIGHT NOW, WE’RE TALKING ABOUT APPEASEMENT.

  45. curt says:

    well written and on the point!!!

  46. Lisa Costa says:

    This is a well written letter which contains very valid points!

  47. Jo Jo says:

    dude’s huge head is disproportionate to his body in this pic. hilarious.

  48. TheBigBangof20thCenturyPopCulture says:

    This guy works a lot so his vote is not in jeopardy and his opinion is not reflective of the rank and file Academy purge. Besides, he forgot the most important and overlooked reason for membership inactivity. The fact that other minorities may confront the same discrimination and marginalization that blacks face. As usual, HR avoids talking points that make this more than a black and white issue.

  49. Jim Plannette says:

    Finally a thoughtful response. Please listen.

  50. Tom says:

    I am shocked. Flounder is in the Academy? This is great!

More Film News from Variety

Loading