Oscar-winner Richard Dreyfuss no fan of Academy Awards’ woke eligibility rules: ‘They make me vomit’

Oscar winner Richard Dreyfuss isn’t a fan of the Academy of Motion Picture’s new diversity rules that limit the eligibility for a “Best Picture” Oscar to those films that fulfill an inclusive quota of “marginalized” people in the cast and crew.

As BizPac Review reported, back in 2020, the Academy announced it would limit its Best Picture award nominees starting in 2024 to those films that “meet one of three requirements, which are to have at least one lead actor or significant supporting actor from underrepresented racial or ethnic groups — a list of acceptable racial demographics is included, have 30% of all actors in secondary and minor roles from these groups, or that the main storyline, theme or narrative of the film is centered on underrepresented groups.”

Additionally, contenders must “meet one of the following requirements: Two underrepresented groups are represented in creative leadership positions and department heads; film crew and technical positions include six people; or 30% of the film’s overall crew is either women, racial or ethnic groups, LGBTQ+ or people with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing.”

Appearing Friday on PBS’s “Firing Line,” the much-loved star of such film classics as “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “Jaws,” and “Mr. Holland’s Opus” didn’t hide his disdain for the woke standards when host Margaret Hoover asked for his thoughts on the subject.

“They make me vomit,” he stated bluntly.

“This is an art form,” Dreyfuss explained. “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.”

The actor argued that you can’t let hurt feelings dictate “life.”

“And what are we risking?” he asked. “Are we really risking hurting people’s feelings? You can’t legislate that. You have to let life be life.”

“And I’m sorry,” he added, “I don’t think that there is a minority or a majority in the country that has to be catered to like that.”

Dreyfuss pointed to Sir Laurence Olivier, considered widely to be one of the greatest actors the industry has ever produced, and his 1965 portrayal of “Othello,” which he did in blackface.

“You know, Laurence Olivier was the last white actor to play ‘Othello,’ and he did it in 1965,” Dreyfuss said. “And he did it in blackface. And he played a black man brilliantly.”

(Video: YouTube)

“Am I being told that I will never have the chance to play a black man?” he asked. “Is someone else being told that if they’re not Jewish, they shouldn’t play ‘The Merchant of Venice’?”

“Are we crazy?” Dreyfuss asked the clearly stunned Hoover. “Do we not know that art is art?”

The Academy, he argued, is “patronizing” its audiences.

“This is so patronizing,” Dreyfuss said. “It’s so thoughtless and treating people like children.”

Given America’s history with slavery and the “sensitivities” that surround it, Hoover asked if there is a difference between a gentile playing “The Merchant of Venice” and a white actor donning blackface.

The fearless 75-year-old liberal didn’t even blink.

“There shouldn’t be,” he replied.

Asked why, Dreyfuss answered, “Because it’s patronizing. Because it says that we’re so fragile that we can’t have our feelings hurt. We have to anticipate having our feelings hurt — our children’s feelings. We don’t know how to stand up and bop the bully in the face.”

Melissa Fine


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