Actor Richard Dreyfuss, known for his roles in “What About Bob?,” “American Graffiti,” “Jaws,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” and others, recently appeared on PBS’s “Firing Line with Margaret Hoover.” During that interview, he ripped into woke inclusion standards in Hollywood, saying that they are “patronizing” because they treat people like they are children. That came after he and Hoover discussed at length the decline of civics education in the U.S.
The subject of Hollywood’s woke inclusion standards came up when Hoover mentioned to Dreyfuss that, starting next year, “films will be required to meet new inclusion standards to be eligible for the Academy Award for Best Picture.”
Explaining the new standards for the benefit of the audience, she said, “They’ll have to have a certain percentage of actors or crew from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups. What do you think of these new inclusion standards for films?”
And that set Drefuss off. Beginning, he said, “They make me vomit. Because this is an art form. It’s also a form of commerce, and it makes money. But it’s an art. And no one should be telling me as an artist that I have to give in to the latest, most current idea of what morality is.
Continuing, he noted that the idea of legislating actors act in a certain way to avoid hurting people’s feelings is absurd, saying, “And what are we risking? Are we really risking hurting people’s feelings? You can’t legislate that. And – you have to let life be life.”
Still he wasn’t done. He then noted that he doubts that many people even care, and gave an example of why the standards are absurd, saying, “And I’m sorry, I don’t think that there is a minority or a majority in the country that has to be catered to like that. You know, Laurence Olivier was the last white actor to play Othello, and he did it in 1965. And he did it in blackface. And he played a black man brilliantly.”
He continued to thrash the standards for being absurd and described them as patronizing and thoughtless, saying, “Am I being told that I will never have a chance to play a black man? Is someone else being told that if they’re not Jewish, they shouldn’t play the Merchant of Venice? Are we crazy? Do we not know that art is art? This is so patronizing. It’s so thoughtless, and treating people like children.”
The Hollywood Reporter, describing the diversity rules that will go into effect next year, said:
When the new rules go into effect for next year’s Oscars, they will require that a film meet two of four inclusion standards to be eligible for best picture (see right). A film could meet the onscreen standard, for instance, by having one of its lead or supporting actors come from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group or by having a storyline centered on an under-represented group, including women, LGBTQ people and people with disabilities. It could meet the industry access and opportunity standard by offering a paid internship and below-the-line training opportunities for people from underrepresented groups.
Featured image credit: screengrab from the embedded video
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