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Stephen King says he would ‘never consider diversity in matters of art’ following Oscars fallout

Patrick Kelleher January 15, 2020
Stephen King

Stephen King (Ulf Andersen/Getty)

Author Stephen King has said that he would “never consider diversity in matters of art” when he casts his votes for the Academy Awards.

The nominees for the 2020 Oscars were announced earlier this week, prompting backlash as people of colour, women and LGBT+ people were once again left out in the cold.

But King – who is a member of the Academy and votes in the Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Screenplay categories – said he would never factor diversity into the mix when casting his votes.

“For me, the diversity issue – as it applies to individual actors and directors, anyway – did not come up,” he tweeted.

Stephen King only considers ‘quality’ when casting his Oscars votes.

“That said… I would never consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality. It seems to me that to do otherwise would be wrong.”

Two hours later, King tried to clarify his position following significant backlash from women, people of colour and LGBT+ people.

King continued: “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.

“You can’t win awards if you’re shut out of the game.”

Writer Roxane Gay replied to King and said his tweets made “painful” reading.

King has been criticised by people from minority backgrounds over his comments.

“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,” Gay wrote.

Author Frederick Joseph replied: “The interesting thing is that diversity generally leads to more interesting, relatable, and higher quality art…”

Other Twitter users also hit out at King, suggesting that his comments point to his own privilege.

The Academy Award nominations came out on Monday (January 13) and immediately caused controversy for the general exclusion of films about queer people, women and people of colour.

Rocketman, the Elton John biopic that was released last year to critical acclaim, picked up just one nomination for Best Original Song. Its star Taron Egerton won a Golden Globe for his performance the week before.

Meanwhile, Judy, which tells the story of the final weeks of gay icon Judy Garland’s life, picked up a Best Actress nomination for Renée Zellweger, but was left out of the Best Picture category.

More: academy awards, diversity, Oscars, Stephen King

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