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The Beige Index takes aim at this year’s Oscar nominated films

Exactly how diverse are this year's Oscars? Enter The Beige Index.

It won’t be long until the 95th Academy Awards begin, showcasing Hollywood’s achievements from throughout 2022. However, as the industry tries to pat itself on the back for showcasing how “diverse” they are, the Beige Index, a website that measures a film’s diversity, has come to pull back the curtain and show these films’ true colors.

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The Beige Index recently published a special page titled ‘The Beige Oscars’, where it analyzed the diversity of every film nominated for Best Picture. Remember when the Academy was heavily criticized by fans this year because all the nominees for ‘Best Director’ were men? Or how the Indian film, RRR was robbed of receiving any nominations at all? The Beige Index is here to analyze how many, if any, of the films that were nominated showed signs of diversity that the industry pays so much lip service to.

Based on the results that The Beige Index provided, 68 percent of all the cast members in all 10 Best Picture films were white and had an average “beige score” of 15.04. Out of all the films nominated for Best Picture, Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis managed to receive a high diversity score of “middlebeige.”

Two films caught the Beige Index’s attention. The first was Avatar: The Way of Water. The index criticized James Cameron’s efforts to “introduce diversity” through the Na’vi in this blockbuster film. Despite the Na’vi being portrayed to be indigenous, it didn’t change the fact that a majority of the named cast members weren’t people of color.

The second film questioned by the index is this year’s fan favorite to win, Everything Everywhere All at Once. Despite its Asian leads and predictions that Ke Huy Quan and Michelle Yeoh would bring home the trophies for their acting roles, the film was criticized for having a large number of white cast members. 44 percent to be precise, claiming that this film is “much whiter” than it actually is.

“On the other hand, you have the distinctly beige film Everything Everywhere All at Once, whose cast is actually 44% white—making the film seem, in absolute terms, much whiter than it actually is.”

We Got This Covered spoke with Australian author and one of the Beige Index creators, Siang Lu, about this year’s results and asked for his thoughts on this year’s diversity in the Oscar nominations, despite films like Black Panther: Wakanda Forever being nominated for other awards. He said that “whiteness in the Oscars” has been a consistent and ongoing pattern during awards season. While there are films like Black Panther that were recognized, it’s the Best Picture category where most of the attention is during the ceremony.

He also made it clear that he doesn’t hate the films that were nominated in this year’s awards season and claimed that some like The Banshees of Inisherin deserve their nominations. But he did point out that other films like RRR were seen to deserve a nomination but were completely ignored by the Academy.

“There’s a reason why hashtags like #OscarsSoWhite and #BAFTAsSoWhite have been trending the world over. Film fans are aware of the pattern, and are jonesing for a change in the regular programming. No shade on The Banshees of Inisherin, All Quiet on the Western Front or Women Talking, they’re great films and well deserving of their noms. But there are some some pretty fantastic films that should arguably be on that list, like RRR and The Woman King. We haven’t crunched the numbers but we’re guessing those two films would probably give our beige-o-meter a run for its money.”

While the Oscars try to show how “diverse” they are, film fans tend to notice that it may not be the case at all. With the Beige Index, it may be the perfect tool to explain why people tend to be critical during awards season. And although the Oscars like to showcase its diversity with films like Parasite and Moonlight winning Best Picture in the past, the practice isn’t consistent enough which just solidifies the problem, highlighting that the Oscars remains “the whitest cultural institution of any relevance.”

“The Beige Index” is a website created by Siang Lu and Jonathan O’Brien, with the goal to measure a film’s diversity levels. The project is based on Lu’s book, The Whitewash – a satirical story about an Asian actor who gets replaced by a white one for an upcoming film. The goal of “The Beige Oscars” is to provide that same visual representation of data, but for this year’s Best Picture nominees’ for the 95th Academy Awards.

The 2023 Oscars will air on ABC on March 12, 2023.

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Erielle Sudario
Erielle Sudario is a Digital Producer for We Got This Covered. Outside of work, she's either DM'ing a 'Dungeons and Dragons' campaign, playing video games, or building keyboards. Erielle holds a Bachelor of Communications Degree (specializing in film and journalism) from Western Sydney University and a Graduate Diploma in Radio and Podcasting from the Australian Film, Television, and Radio School.