Stephen King criticised for ‘backward and ignorant’ comments about diversity in art

Stephen King has faced criticism for his comments on diversity in the art world, which one director called “backward and ignorant”.

The writer spoke out on Twitter on Tuesday, the day after the Oscars nominations were announced – and denounced for their lack of diversity.

King was invited in 2012 to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which oversees the Oscars.

“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. That said…” he wrote, adding: ”…I would never consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality. It seems to me that to do otherwise would be wrong.”

King tweeted a couple of hours later: ”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.”

Director Ava DuVernay was among those who criticised King’s remarks. She retweeted King’s message about “never [considering] diversity in matters of art” and wrote: ”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.”

Author Roxane Gay responded to the same tweet by King, telling him: ”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.”

Others expressed similar views, included writer and editor Morgan Jerkins, who told King: “With the utmost respect, I think this is quite a bit unfair. When films created by people of colour, irrespective of quality, constantly get overlooked by institutions that are predominately comprised of white men, there is an implicit bias at work here.”

Twitter user @Coach_Thames asked: ”You say this with the best intentions and I give you every benefit of the doubt, but isn’t the issue that white males struggle with seeing quality in works that don’t reflect their world? Hasn’t that proven true… for centuries now?”

The Independent has contacted King’s representative for comment.

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