Dear Crabby, Who is the ‘Academy’ and Why Do People Keep Thanking Them?

Dear Crabby,

I was a little disappointed with some of the Oscar nominations this year. It seemed like a number of good films and performances were overlooked. And that got me thinking about acceptance speeches: nearly every winner starts out their speech with some form of, ‘I’d like to thank the Academy.’ Just who are these people and why do they have so much say in who gets nominated and wins?

Thanks, Cindy Cinematic

Dear Cindy Cinematic,

I don’t get to the movies as much as I used to. It’s just so darn expensive and crowded that I’d rather just wait for it to come out on DVD and watch it from the comfort of my favorite recliner. That way I can yell at the TV all I’d like and not get kicked out (although Mrs. Crabby does give me the stink eye if I talk during the mushy scenes).

DearCrabbyAnyway, it seems you’re not alone about being in the dark as to who the Academy members are. First, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) is a professional honorary organization with a membership of around 6,000. Of that number, only 22 percent of the members are actors. That means most of those famous faces flashing megawatt smiles during the show probably aren’t even voting members! To become a voting member you have to be invited to join by the Board of Governors, on behalf of Academy Branch Executives. I don’t think a Supreme Court Justice nomination has this many steps! And finding out the identity of an Academy voting member is harder than getting your hands on Kentucky Fried Chicken’s original secret recipe!

Back in 2012 a Los Angeles Times reporter was able to figure out that the average Academy voter is 94-percent Caucasian, 77-percent male, and about 63 years old. Now that sounds like a smart group of voters if you ask me, but I guess others think there should be more diversity. Case in point: this year every single director, actor, or actress nominated is white. Now, the movie Selma did get nominations for Best Picture and Best Original Song, but I heard many folks grumbling that it should have received nominations for Best Actor and Best Director. Look, sometimes life isn’t fair. Even the great Jimmy Stewart (and yes, I realize he’s a white male), who was nominated five times, won just once for The Philadelphia Story. You know which nominations he lost? Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and a little picture titled It’s a Wonderful Life. My opinion is good acting and directing should be rewarded no matter what race or gender you are. If the movie is good, I don’t care if a green man from outer space directed it. Anyway, I hope that clears up who the Academy is. If people want to see more diversity in Oscar nominations, then those fancy Hollywood folks need to figure out a way to get into the Academy and shake things up a bit. Until then, they won’t dare bite the hand that feeds them and will keep giving the Academy gratitude for their golden statue.

Dear Crabby

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