Being at the mercy of an unrevealed conspiracy is like living in an artificial world where you are the only one who is aware of its true nature. But without any proof, you’re pretty much looked upon as a tinfoil hat-wearing nut job. For many in the media, the Academy Awards have been seen as just that sort of phenomenon. Many of us have watched great films and amazing actors be overlooked by the Academy and thought, “Hmmm…that’s strange.” We couldn’t quite put a finger on it. We wanted to believe that it was far more than the simple Hollywood homecoming contest that it has often been compared to. And with the recent historic win by 12 Years a Slave in the Best Picture category, many black movie lovers and filmmakers alike applauded loudly and proudly.
However, recent revelations by at least two Oscar voters paint a different picture. According to The Los Angeles Times, anonymous members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences say they never saw 12 Years a Slave, yet still placed the Steve McQueen-directed offering at the very top of their list. "All the same, two Oscar voters privately admitted that they didn't see 12 Years a Slave, thinking it would be upsetting,” said one of The LA Times’ sources. “But they said they voted for it anyway because, given the film's social relevance, they felt obligated to do so.”
Publicist Peggy Siegal said she had spoken to voters who were reluctant to give McQueen's film a chance because of its content and subject matter.
Another voter said she didn't watch 12 Years a Slave because she didn't want "more terrible stuff to keep in my head." The voter, self-identified as a senior said, "I have never liked movies that have severe violence."
Whether this woman was one of the two anonymous voters polled by The Los Angeles Times is unclear. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has 6,000 voters. While there is no way of knowing just how many voters picked 12 Years a Slave out of a feeling of obligation to do so, some suspect it was more than two or three.