Stephen King has caused a stir on Twitter with a poorly worded tweet about diversity in the arts.
Speaking about nominating artists for screenplay awards, King mentioned that the “issue of diversity” did not arise for the nominations he was looking at and that even if it did, he “would never consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality.”
Generally speaking he is quite correct of course- one would nominate an artist in terms of quality of their work rather than how ‘diverse’ they are. However, King misses the mark with his tweet by not first acknowledging the fact that many ‘diverse’ artists rarely get the chance of being put forward for a nomination as their work does not get the attention it deserves.
After some backlash, King proceeded to placate fans by tweeting support for the ignored and marginalised in the creative industry, however many saw that as ‘back-peddling’.
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 Academy voting body is mostly white men. Women comprise 31% and POC comprise 16%. That doesn’t reflect US population. And how many members actually watch each film up for a potential award? There’s an Honor Code but no real safeguards to ensure films are viewed.— Caitlin McCarthy (@CaitlinMcWriter) 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
Diversity and quality are separate entities. A work of art can have diversity and suck. He’s not saying that diversity makes works bad; just that diversity can’t save a bad work.— Reply Guy #9 🌐 (@solastsummer2) January 14, 2020
After causing such an uproar with is initial tweets, King tweeted in support of underrepresented artists and filmmakers. His tweets have certainly created some passionate conversations about diversity, representation, and privilege all through the Twittersphere.
Let us know your thoughts!
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