As one of just seven black actresses to win an Academy Award over the past 87 years, Whoopi Goldberg has some authority when it comes to the #OscarsSoWhite controversy.
Prominent figures like Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett-Smith are calling for a boycott of this year’s award show after no black actors were nominated for the second consecutive year, and films like Straight Outta Compton and Creed were shut out of the Best Director and Best Picture categories. But The View host, who took home her statue 16 years ago for her indelible portrayal of Oda Mae Brown in Ghost, isn’t willing to go that far.
“Why is this a conversation that we only have once a year?” Goldberg asked her co-hosts. “Every year we get all fired up and the rest of the year nobody says anything.”
As Goldberg, a previous Oscar host herself, made clear, the call for a boycott has put this year’s host, Chris Rock, in a very difficult position. “To boycott him seems just as bad as what everybody is saying,” she said to tepid applause from the studio audience. “We have this conversation every year and it pisses me off.”
“I make movies for a living. Let me tell you what the problem is. It’s not that the people nominating are too white,” Goldberg said, defending the Academy, which was 93% white and 76% male as of 2013. “The problem is the people who can be helping to make movies that have blacks and Latinos and women and all that, that money doesn’t come to you because the idea is that there’s no place for black movies.”
Until studios are willing to make movies besides those like The Avengers, where you see “70 white people saving the Earth,” Goldberg said, you will not see any change in the Oscar nominations. “I am mad about this,” she said. “You know why? Because I would like to be one of those people saving the Earth but they’re not coming to me.”
“Boycotting doesn’t work and it’s also a slap in the face of Chris Rock,” Goldberg added later. “So I’m not going to boycott, but I’m going to continue to bitch as I have all year round because I’m tired of seeing movies where no one is represented except a bit of the population, not all of it.”
If people want to boycott something, Goldberg suggested they target the movies that don’t represent people of color on screen. “That’s the boycott you want!” she exclaimed.
Chris Rock has remained relatively quiet thus far amidst the uproar, and has not responded to calls for him to drop out as host. He did, however, make his thoughts on the matter clear in a promotional tweet last week.