February 21st, 2012
03:39 PM ET
Michael Fassbender's turn in "Shame" was one of the resounding snubs from this year's Academy Award nominations, and the film's director, Steve McQueen, believes the prudes could be to blame.
Fassbender stars in the film as a sex addict, a part that required him to spend screen time in the buff. His performance in the "harrowing drama" was "mesmerizing," Entertainment Weekly said of the Oscars oversight, and cemented Fassbender as "one of the biggest breakout stars of 2011."
Director McQueen agreed that Fassbender had been overlooked by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, reportedly telling the Press Association, "In America, they're too scared of sex, that's why he wasn't nominated. If you look at the best actor list, you're saying, 'Michael Fassbender is not on the list?'"
Fassbender, 34, is "a once in a generation actor," McQueen continued. "He's an actor who can transform and transcend, and you actually believe him, so that's the kind of guy that he is."
There's also the Academy's prevailing demographic to consider. According to a Los Angeles Times study, the 5,000-plus voting members of the Academy are close to 94 percent Caucasian, are 77 percent male, and have a median age of 62.
If the demographics were more varied, said Academy member Alfre Woodard, perhaps "Shame" would have stood a better chance.
"Maybe if the median age was 45 to 50, a film like 'Shame' might show up, which I thought was a brilliantly rendered piece but a subject matter that you don't expect a certain older demographic would flock to see," she said.
Academy President Tom Sherak and other members tell the Times that they're aware of the organization's limited diversity, with writer-director Phil Alden Robinson saying, "we absolutely recognize that we need to do a better job."
But, he continued, "we start off with one hand tied behind our back...If the industry as a whole is not doing a great job in opening up its ranks, it's very hard for us to diversify our membership."
Either way, "Shame" director McQueen isn't sweating the snub. "It's kind of crazy," McQueen told the Press Association. "But that's how it is, it's an American award, let them have it."
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