Showing posts with label #OscarsBoycott. Show all posts
Showing posts with label #OscarsBoycott. Show all posts

Friday, January 29, 2016

Why #OscarsSoWhite and #OscarsBoycott are a waste of time...

An effort to boycott the Oscars has gained significant traction, even leading to "a history-making announcement by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences about diversifying its membership.."
Simple economic analysis reveals why the Academy responded so quickly. It also reveals why the course of action chosen is likely to be less effective than many hope. Finally, it points to a more effective solution.
As noted in the charts above and below, both drawn from the 2014 Motion Picture Association of America Stat Book, Asians, African-Americans and Hispanics comprised 46% of movie ticket sales in 2014.
You don't need an MBA from the University of Chicago to know policies and practices that disrespect 46% of your customers, while several of your employees make statements that appear to channel Donald Trump's perspective on diversity, are bad for business. As I wrote in an MLK Day post, Dr. King stated quite clearly that "If you respect my dollar you must respect my person."
So it is here. 
Even more relevant is the fact that Asians, African-Americans and Hispanics comprise a large share (46%) of tickets sold to the top grossing movies in 2014.
Why #OscarsSoWhite and #OscarsBoycott Won't Work
A boycott of a specific, one day only event is likely to fail to generate significant change. Institutions tend to respond with tokenism, defined as "the practice of making only a perfunctory or symbolic effort to do a particular thing, especially by recruiting a small number of people from underrepresented groups in order to give the appearance of sexual or racial equality within a workforce." Tokenism implies that if one Black (or minority, or woman) benefits, all members of the target group do. (Clarence Thomas replaced Thurgood Marshall on the Supreme Court, but was Mr. Thomas really as qualified as Mr. Marshall? What does the record show?)  
In this case, the appointment of Black people in highly visible positions, as ceremony hosts or even as CEO is symptomatic of this approach. (Should these people step down?  Hell no. Why would you do that?) While the reality is these appointments do not  have the power to actually change the shape of discrimination, this does not mean they have no value. (It depends upon the person: Marshall vs Thomas....)
Given the facts outlined, a more effective approach may be for members of the affected groups to boycott all new films for, say, a week or a month.
Historically, these groups have been prevented from working together toward a single goal, so a coordinated effort is a long shot.
But economic analysis reveals it would be the most effective approach.