Author Stephen King slammed for comments on diversity at the Oscars

Author Stephen King slammed for comments on diversity at the Oscars

Stephen King has been roundly criticised on Twitter after downplaying the importance of diversity in selecting this year's Academy Award nominees.

Taking to Twitter, the 72-year-old wrote: "I would never consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality. It seems to me that to do otherwise would be wrong."

He prefaced the tweet by asserting that the matter of diversity was not even discussed in the categories he was responsible for nominating. "As a writer, I am allowed to nominate in just 3 categories: Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Screenplay. For me, the diversity issue – as it applies to individual actors and directors, anyway – did not come up," he stated.

The Shining author was condemned for his comments by a number of high profile individuals. "When you wake up, meditate, stretch, reach for your phone to check on the world and see a tweet from someone you admire that is so backward and ignorant you want to go back to bed," replied the director of Selma and When They See Us, Ava Duvernay.

Author Roxane Gay corroborated: "As a fan, this is painful to read from you. It implies that diversity and quality cannot be synonymous. They are not separate things. Quality is everywhere but most industries only believe in quality from one demographic. And now, here you are."

Watch as Stephen King discusses The Outsider: 

In an apparent response to the criticism, King later tweeted, "The most important thing we can do as artists and creative people is make sure everyone has the same fair shot, regardless of sex, colour, or orientation. Right now such people are badly under-represented, and not only in the arts."

"You can’t win awards if you’re shut-out of the game," he added.

The author's comments come after wider backlash surrounding the fact that all the nominees for the 2020 Best Director Oscar are white and male - even post the #OscarsSoWhite furore led the Academy to instate diversity reforms.

Only five women have ever been nominated for the Best Director award in the ceremony's nearly 100-year history. In fact, the Hurt Locker director, Kathryn Bigelow, is the only female director to have won the honour.