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Analyzing the 2016 Academy Awards

Faculty experts address Oscars’ controversy

Contact: Heather Smith

​Recent announcements about Academy Award nominees sparked controversy when many A-listers slammed the event for lack of diversity among nominations. Though diversity has taken center stage early on, topics such as performance and fashion will be important parts of dialogue around the infamous award show.

Central Michigan University faculty experts are available to speak on key issues:

Diversity and the silverscreen
Patty Williamson, associate professor, broadcast and cinematic arts

Patty Williamson is available to discuss diversity and inclusion in relation to the Oscar boycott. She specializes in film and TV criticism and analysis, as well as gender studies and media representation.

"The Oscar boycott is already affecting change in the industry, pushing the Academy to address inequities in race and gender within its membership," she said. "However, the larger issue is the need to diversify the pool of talent writing, producing, directing and starring in Hollywood films."

Just last year the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission began investigating the film industry to determine if there was evidence of employment discrimination based on gender, she says.

"If the industry continues to be dominated by white men, we will continue to see white men dominating the Oscar nominations. Certainly that investigation also should be looking at whether racial discrimination plays a role," she said.

Making the best-dressed list
Michael Mamp, assistant professor, fashion and merchandising design

Michael Mamp focuses on the history of 20th century western dress and visual merchandising. Mamp can speak to fashion trends and clothing choices at previous Academy Award events and trends emerging this awards season.

"I expect to see high-shine fabrications, bold color, embellishment and graphic details in many of the gowns of this year's attendees," Mamp said.

He added that the red carpet can be fickle and celebrities can expect just as much publicity from the worst-dressed list as they can from the best-dressed list. Regardless, he says, those that are celebrated as well dressed are working with stylists and designers months – sometimes even a full year – in advance to achieve the perfect look.

Mamp says diversity, a hot topic in the news leading up to awards night, is something that can be communicated through fashion in many ways.

"We may see that African-American actresses choose to wear the looks of diverse designers," he said. "For example, Michelle Obama has chosen on many occasions to wear Tracy Reese, a New York-based, African-American designer.

"While the Tracy Reese brand has been successful for quite some time, Mrs. Obama's choice helped to raise awareness of the designer's work. It will be interesting to see if award ceremony attendees choose a similar route."

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