Stephen King, author of such classic works as IT and The Shining, has come under fire for some recent tweets he shared in response to the recent Oscar nominations.
The Academy has been criticized this year for a lack of diversity and representation amongst its 2020 Oscars nominees. King shared his thoughts on the matter and, to say the least, it didn't go over particularly well.
The 72-year-old author weighed in on the issue, which has been a major topic of debate amongst movie fans since the nominations came out. No female directors were nominated, for example. Instead, everyone nominated in the Best Director category was white and male. Stephen King, however, in a series of tweets, explained that he doesn't feel the need to consider diversity in assessing the quality of art. Here's what he had to say.
"As a writer, I am allowed to nominate in just 3 categories: Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Screenplay. For me, the diversity issue, as it applies to individual actors and directors, anyway, did not come up... I would never consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality. It seems to me that to do otherwise would be wrong."
The replies to the Oscars tweets were largely in disagreement with this sentiment. Many stated that they respect Stephen King, who is easily one of the most prolific authors of his time, but that they felt his statements were very out of touch. In a later tweet, King offered some clarification, explaining that he feels the issue comes down to a lack of representation.
"The most important thing we can do as artists and creative people is make sure everyone has the same fair shot, regardless of sex, color, or orientation. Right now such people are badly under-represented, and not only in the arts."
Speaking further in yet another Academy Awards themed tweet the author said, "You can't win awards if you're shut out of the game." While that may be how Stephen King feels, it may not hold hold a ton of water. For example, plenty of heralded 2019 movies were directed by women. Greta Gerwig helmed Little Women, which went on to earn a Best Picture nomination, so it would seem her work is perfectly worthy of a nomination, as just one example. Director Ava DuVernay (Selma) had an impassioned response to King's words.
"When you wake up, meditate, stretch, reach for your phone to check on the world and see a tweet from someone you admire that is so backward and ignorant you want to go back to bed."
In recent years, Stephen King has become a big-ticket name in Hollywood as his stories are being snatched up left and right for new adaptations on both the big screen and TV. The 92nd annual Academy Awards telecast is set for Sunday, February 9 on ABC. Feel free to check out the posts from Stephen King's official Twitter for yourself, as well as some of the responses that we've collected.
...I would never consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality. It seems to me that to do otherwise would be wrong.— Stephen King (@StephenKing) January 14, 2020
As a writer, I am allowed to nominate in just 3 categories: Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Screenplay. For me, the diversity issue--as it applies to individual actors and directors, anyway--did not come up. That said...— Stephen King (@StephenKing) January 14, 2020
The most important thing we can do as artists and creative people is make sure everyone has the same fair shot, regardless of sex, color, or orientation. Right now such people are badly under-represented, and not only in the arts.— Stephen King (@StephenKing) January 14, 2020
You can't win awards if you're shut out of the game.— Stephen King (@StephenKing) January 14, 2020
When you wake up, meditate, stretch, reach for your phone to check on the world and see a tweet from someone you admire that is so backward and ignorant you want to go back to bed. https://t.co/nPXOeAebkb— Ava DuVernay (@ava) January 14, 2020
As a fan, this is painful to read from you. It implies that diversity and quality cannot be synonymous. They are not separate things. Quality is everywhere but most industries only believe in quality from one demographic. And now, here you are.— roxane gay (@rgay) January 14, 2020
Uh oh... Stephen King is against affirmative action??? I hope he's ready to be canceled by all the people that LOVE him when he hates on Trump.— Tim Young (@TimRunsHisMouth) January 14, 2020
Quality is subjective. Your determination of quality may include bias of which you are not aware.— Mindy McClard (@onceince) January 14, 2020
White men are 35% of the population. It's not logical they produce 100% of the quality art.— Cosmichomicide (@Cosmichomicide) January 14, 2020
With all due respect, I'm afraid that a meritocracy could work only if the game weren't rigged.— Laura Lippman (@LauraMLippman) January 14, 2020
With the utmost respect, I think this is quite a bit unfair. When films created by people of color, irrespective of quality, constantly get overlooked by institutions that are predominately comprised of white men, there is an implicit bias at work here.— Morgan Jerkins (@MorganJerkins) January 14, 2020
Sir, respectfully saying you as a white man can’t really say that. You had more advantages and opportunities than a person of color would have. They have been wrongfully held back in so many ways just because of their color skin.— David Weissman (@davidmweissman) January 14, 2020
If there's ever a comprehensive indictment of how inherently corrosive and piss-poor twitter is as a platform for conveying complex or nuanced ideas, I think one of the top case examples has gotta be legendary author Stephen King tripping over his own hasty & poorly edited words. pic.twitter.com/EFckuKt8VF— 🏳️🌈ＳＰＡＣＥＤＡＤＥＣＡＰＳ 🏳️🌈 (@SuperSpacedad) January 14, 2020
Hey, everybody, it's okay! A lot of white men totally understood what Stephen King really meant and they're happy to explain it to you!— Butt Meringue (@Jenny_Trout) January 14, 2020
You're a very smart person ans one of my favourite writers, but you must acknowledge you've had an easier path in your career than a woman or POC, right?— Faron Gidge 📷 (He/Him) (@FaronGidge) January 14, 2020
White men disproportionately reward other white men, regardless of quality.
stephen king: "now here's another story about an alcoholic white male writer being chased by an evil car." https://t.co/aZmvVhdHpo— Grumpy Universal Friend (@GrumpyTheology) January 14, 2020
How is this hard to understand: if you're not marginalized, your best bet is to sit down and listen to those who are.— Tade Thompson (@tadethompson) January 14, 2020
Nobody wants to hear your take.
Except confirmation bias jockeys.
Listen, and, if you're capable of it, learn.
I am disappointed in Stephen King tonight.
People are upset about a Stephen King tweet today. I get it. I’m glad he clarified what he meant.— Anthony Breznican (@Breznican) January 14, 2020
I would just note his history of encouraging and supporting aspiring storytellers of many backgrounds.
Those actions speak loudly, too. Sometimes things come out the wrong way.
And when art is stifled because diverse voices are stifled? That cool with you too?— Kari Gregg (@karigregg) January 14, 2020