Stephen King has clarified recent comments he made regarding the 2020 Academy Awards nominations after a fierce backlash.
The author of such horror classics as “Misery” and “Pet Sematary” came under fire earlier this month after appearing to defend this year’s Oscar nominations, which were slight on both women and people of color, on Twitter.
As a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, King said, he “would never consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality.”
“It seems to me that to do otherwise would be wrong,” he added.
The comments were quickly condemned by legions of King fans as well as a few Hollywood heavyweights, some of whom suggested they were indicative of white male privilege.
In a Monday op-ed for The Washington Post, headlined “The Oscars Are Still Rigged in Favor of White People,” the author attempted to quell the controversy, acknowledging that he’d crossed the line.
“The subject was the Academy Awards,” he wrote. “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,” he continued. “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.”
Notably, King stood by the message of his eyebrow-raising tweet, noting that “judgments of creative excellence should be blind.” Still, he added, “But that would be the case in a perfect world, one where the game isn’t rigged in favor of the white folks.”
Indeed, much of the discourse regarding the 2020 Oscar nominations has emphasized those who weren’t nominated. The only nonwhite actor to score a nomination was Cynthia Erivo for “Harriet,” while many of the buzzed-about snubs, such as Jennifer Lopez in “Hustlers” and Eddie Murphy in “Dolemite Is My Name,” were artists of color.
Meanwhile, women were once again left out of the best director category entirely; though Greta Gerwig’s new adaptation of “Little Women” scored an impressive six nominations, the director herself wasn’t given a nod for her work.
Citing “Little Women” as an example, King placed the blame on the demographics of the academy’s voting body, which is still predominantly white and male.
“Creative excellence comes from every walk, color, creed, gender and sexual orientation, and it’s made richer and bolder and more exciting by diversity, but it’s defined by being excellent,” he wrote. “Judging anyone’s work by any other standard is insulting and — worse — it undermines those hard-won moments when excellence from a diverse source is rewarded (against, it seems, all the odds) by leaving such recognition vulnerable to being dismissed as politically correct,” he added.
“We don’t live in that perfect world, and this year’s less-than-diverse Academy Awards nominations once more prove it,” he concluded. “Maybe someday we will. I can dream, can’t I? After all, I make stuff up for a living.”
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