Screenwriter Says 'Woke' Oscars 'Mean Less Each Year' in Social Media Rant

Taxi Driver and Raging Bull writer Paul Schrader has slammed the Academy Awards for becoming more "woke," which he says has resulted in their meaning "less each year."

The 76-year-old Hollywood screenwriter and director took to Facebook to share his thoughts on the film industry's current state and what the Oscars have become over the years.

Schrader published his opinions online hours after the movie Everything Everywhere All at Once cleaned up at the Oscars, winning seven Academy Awards at Sunday's ceremony.

"Oscars so not [Hollywood]," Schrader began. "Diversifying membership, recalibrating how votes are counted, these changes have transformed the Hollywood Oscars to the International Oscars. I rather like the provincial origins of the Oscars: Hollywood coming together to celebrate its own."

He went on to point out that other countries have their own national awards where they mostly celebrate their own movies, like Britain's BAFTAs, France's Césars and Germany's Lolas.

Paul Schrader and inset of Oscar statuette
Screenwriter and director Paul Schrader, pictured in 2022, has slammed the Academy Awards for becoming too international and "woke." Stephane Cardinale / Andrew H. Walker/Corbis via Getty Images

Schrader said that Barry Diller, ex-CEO of Paramount, was correct when he recently said the movie industry at large is "finished and will never come back."

Schrader continued, "Barry Diller is right. If the Oscars are to save themselves they must return to their origins. The Oscars mean less each year. The reasons for this are clear: the need for revenue compounded by the debt carried by the [academy's] museum and lowering film revenues and the scramble to be woke."

Newsweek reached out by email to Schrader for clarity on what he believes is "woke" about the academy now.

After his initial post, the screenwriter and director fielded questions and comments from people who replied to him on Facebook.

Addressing his point about the museum, one Facebook user suggested it's "been a way bigger financial success than anybody anticipated." Schrader replied, "That's not the problem. The problem is debt."

Another person's reply prompted a rebuttal from Schrader. "Shame Mr. Schrader, does fame and fortune prevent your feeling it?" one person commented on his post. Schrader replied, almost poetically: "I was born in shame, educated in shame and will die in shame."

Schrader's comments were further discussed across social media, especially on Reddit, where they became a topic of debate.

Some users speculated he was "mad" that Everything Everywhere All at Once won so many Oscars, despite the movie being "shot in California, directed by a couple of guys born in the US, and distributed by A24," one user said.

Another user suggested he may have been mad about the inclusion of All Quiet on the Western Front, the anti-war German-language film that was nominated in several categories. Edward Berger's Netflix epic won four awards after being nominated for nine.

Robert De Niro, Paul Schrader, Martin Scorsese
Paul Schrader is pictured with Martin Scorsese, right, and Robert De Niro in New York City in December 2008. Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

In the comments section of his initial Facebook post, Schrader addressed such claims and shared his feelings on Everything Everywhere All at Once.

Anita Li, a journalist and founder of TheGreenLine.TO, said that while she's a longtime Schrader fan, she was "incredibly" disappointed to read his comments.

"Everything Everywhere All at Once is a quintessentially American immigrant tale, and both directors and much of the cast are American born," Li wrote. "I hope I'm misinterpreting this comment, so I'm keen on hearing your response."

"[Everything Everywhere] didn't strike a chord with me, but that wasn't my point. I was just affirming what Diller said recently," Schrader wrote in response to Li.

Schrader was behind such classic movies as Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and The Last Temptation of Christ, all collaborations with Martin Scorsese, but his only Academy Award nomination came for his 2017 psychological drama First Reformed, which starred Ethan Hawke and Amanda Seyfried.