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‘Diversity’ requirements of Oscar contention ‘make Robert Dreyfuss sick’

Oscar-winning actor Richard Dreyfuss has expressed strong criticism towards the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ new diversity and inclusion standards, “They make me vomit,” he said. Dreyfuss shared his views during an extensive interview on PBS’s “Firing Line With Margaret Hoover”, where he discussed various topics including civics education, partisan discourse, and the Academy’s diversity initiative.

According to Dreyfuss, as an artist, he believes that no one should dictate to him what is morally acceptable. “It’s an art. 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. What are we risking? Are we really risking hurting people’s feelings? You can’t legislate that,” he told Hoover.

Dreyfuss argued that the efforts defeat the art of acting and filmmaking and imply that “we’re so fragile that we can’t have our feelings hurt.”

“We don’t know how to stand up and bop the bully in the face,” he said.

He questioned the necessity of accommodating the latest ideas of morality and argued against the idea of catering to specific minority or majority groups.

Dreyfuss was referring to the four diversity and inclusion standards introduced by the Academy in 2020, which will be implemented for the 2024 Academy Awards.

Films have to meet at least two of four benchmarks, which cover — among other things — whether the lead actors are from underrepresented groups or if at least 30 pct. of the cast and crew come from these groups.

To qualify for Best Picture category, a film must fulfill at least two of these standards, which aim to promote on-screen representation, diversity among creative leadership, industry access and opportunities, and representation in audience development.

Dreyfuss went on to defend Laurence Olivier’s portrayal of a black character in blackface in the 1965 film “Othello”. He questioned whether actors would be prohibited from playing characters of different races or backgrounds, stating that such restrictions are patronizing, thoughtless, and treat people like children.

“Am I being told that I will never have a chance to play a Black man?” asked Dreyfuss, who is also white. “Is someone else being told that if they’re not Jewish, they shouldn’t play the Merchant of Venice?”

The interview with Dreyfuss also touched upon the topic of controlling the curriculum and banning books in public schools. Dreyfuss criticized the tendency of both Republicans and Democrats to send their children to schools with the hope of them aligning with their respective political ideologies. He expressed his disapproval of parents who demand that opposing views be excluded from their children’s education, considering it to be wrong and cowardly.

Richard Dreyfuss, known for his notable roles in films such as “Jaws”, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, and “Mr. Holland’s Opus”, won an Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in “The Goodbye Girl”.

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