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Charlotte Rampling Claims Oscar Diversity Controversy is ‘Racist to Whites’

British actress Charlotte Rampling was one of the lower-profile performers to secure a nomination at this year’s Academy Awards, impressing voters with her devastating and controlled performance in Andrew Haigh’s relationship drama 45 Years. Ms. Rampling is currently sixty-nine years old, which is to say she was born in 1946 and came of age during the ’50s and ’60s — a different time, to be sure. Like many individuals at a relatively older age, she reflects the social norms of her era, many of which society has since advanced past. Older folks sometimes express opinions that younger generations find objectionable, and while such comments ought not to be excused outright, they also must be considered within the cultural context from they originated.

So, with all that in mind: The Guardian notes that Rampling sat down this morning on French radio show Europe 1 to discuss Hollywood, her whirlwind journey to Oscar night, and other various movie-biz topics. With celebrities speaking out against the Academy’s marked lack of diversity in increasing numbers, the conversation naturally turned to race, and the host asked Rampling her opinion of the recent push for countermeasures resolving the institutionalized racial imbalances in the Academy Awards program. In response to a proposal mandating diversity quotas currently being floated, Rampling said, “It is racist to whites.”

Because Ms. Rampling was not the host’s grandmother, he was unable to chuckle nervously and ask her how Florida was this year, and instead sat idly as she continued: “One can never really know, but perhaps the black actors did not deserve to make the final list… Why classify people? These days everyone is more or less accepted … People will always say: ‘Him, he’s less handsome’; ‘Him, he’s too black’; ‘He is too white’ … someone will always be saying ‘You are too’ [this or that] … But do we have to take from this that there should be lots of minorities everywhere?”

Disappointing as Rampling’s regressive comments may be, it is not especially surprising that a nearly seventy-year-old white woman is a little out of touch on issues of racial parity. There will be a good deal of chatter over this today, Rampling will have an awkward meeting with what I imagine must be her very flustered publicist, issue an apology sometime soon, and then we will all move on with our lives by the time the next celebrity says something racist.

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