Oliver pulls no punches in his latest “How Is This Still a Thing?” segment.

The story of this year’s Oscar boycott has been well documented, the number of frivilous think pieces devoted to it in the thousands, the list of actual celebrities participating in it somewhat less than that. In some critic’s eyes, the #OscarsSoWhite campaign has been a long overdue comeuppance for an industry that likes to pride itself as being more progressive and forward-thinking than the rest of the world with little evidence to support its claims.

Now just a week out from the 88th annual Academy Awards, John Oliver put his spin on the diversity problem plaguing Hollywood in one of his “Why Is This Still a Thing?” segments, taking specific aim at the claim that there simply aren’t enough good roles available for actors of color.

In typical Oliver fashion, what followed was an uncompromising, scathing takedown of this notion, citing Hollywood’s long tradition of casting white actors in roles specifically meant for minorities. Whether it’s seeing American John Wayne cast as Genghis Khan or seeing white as paper Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton portraying Egyptian prophets Moses and Ramesses, respectively, the film industry has a long history of whitewashing history in order to suit the needs of its financial backers, as Oliver explains.

At the center of Last Week Tonight‘s segment is a rather telling quote that was given by Exodus: Gods and Kings director Ridley Scott, who while attempting to defend the movie’s whitewashed cast, said the following:

I can’t mount a film of this budget, where I have to rely on tax rebates in Spain, and say that my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such. I’m just not going to get it financed. So the question doesn’t even come up.


Of course, the discrepancy be wouldn’t be as noticeable, Oliver argues, if half the country didn’t erupt in outrage every time a non-white actor was cast in a role originally portrayed by a white person — look no further than the backlash Michael B. Jordan received after being cast as the Human Torch in the Fantastic Four remake.

Check out the video above, then give us your take on the issue in the comments section.

Source: Last Week Tonight

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