Richard Dreyfuss: Oscars' New Diversity Requirements Make Me 'Vomit'

May 8th, 2023 9:54 AM

Most people know Richard Dreyfuss, and know what he does for a living. He is widely known for his role as Matt Hooper in the iconic film “Jaws,” but these days he is witnessing something that disturbs him more than the great white shark that he, Martin Brody, and Quint hunted.

Beginning in 2024, if a film wants to be nominated for the Oscars' Best Picture, it has to meet a set of diversity standards laid out by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The aim is for movies to involve “underrepresented” groups into the major elements of a film, with the list including blacks, LGBT, Hispanics, etc. - the usual suspects.

Specifically, a movie will only be considered for the award if two of the following four requirements are met: 

At least one of the lead actors or significant supporting actors is from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group.

At least 30% of all actors in secondary and more minor roles are from at least two of a list of underrepresented groups.

The main storyline(s), theme or narrative of the film is centered on an underrepresented group.

The marketing and promotion teams for these films have multiple in-house executives from a list of underrepresented groups.

The requirements have several other nuances and caveats (which you can read more about here), but that’s the gist of it.

Most of Hollywood predictably thinks this is a necessary measure, but not Dreyfuss. He believes - and rightly so - that this set of requirements will have a detrimental effect on entertainment. 

“They make me vomit,” Dreyfuss said bluntly. “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. 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.”

Dreyfuss said that for historical movies in particular, it’s not necessary for the cast to be altered just to meet some ridiculous diversity requirement. He said directors should aim to tell history as it happened, instead of making sure “underrepresented” communities are in the film.

“I totally believe that you can make a great film or a great painting or a great opera out of the truth first. And try that first,” Dreyfuss said. “And then if you can’t do it, then make up some nonsense. But don’t– don’t tell me you can’t do that, that history isn’t that interesting.”

Dreyfuss vocalized what we’re all thinking: we shouldn’t have to take this woke abuse any longer, and all of this posturing is meaningless. He is correct in his assessment that the rules will poorly affect movies.

Unfortunately, his opinions alone won’t be enough to defeat the Oscars and its diversity obsession. He’d need more people on his side - and perhaps a bigger boat - for that.