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Academy Enlists New Social Media Campaign Rules in Wake of Andrea Riseborough Controversy

After a rather bizarre social media campaign that snagged Andrea Riseborough a surprising (and controversial) Oscar nomination for her performance in To Leslie, the board of governors at the Academy of Motion Picture, Arts and Sciences enacted a considerable reform aimed to “bring clarity, fairness, and transparency to how motion picture companies and individuals directly associated with awards-eligible motion pictures may promote [them],” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The new roles do not prohibit Academy members from promoting or encouraging others to view a movie on social media because one particular aspect is worth praising. However, from now on, they cannot in any way influence people to vote for one specific individual or the movie via social media or any other channel, as stated here by the Academy:

“You may not share your voting decisions at any point. You may not discuss your voting preferences and other members’ voting preferences in a public forum. This includes comparing or ranking motion pictures, performances, or achievements in relation to voting. This also includes speaking with press anonymously. You may not attempt to encourage other members to vote for or not vote for any motion picture or achievement. You may not lobby other members directly or in a manner outside of the scope of these promotion regulations to advance a motion picture, performance, or achievement.”

The Academy has also created a new hotline designed to report any campaign violations anonymously via According to the Academy, penalties “may include but are not limited to: suspending or revoking mailing house and communications privileges; revoking privileges to attend Academy events; disqualifying a motion picture, performance or achievement for awards consideration; rescinding an Oscar nomination; revoking voting privileges; suspending Academy membership; and expelling a member from the Academy.”

Members can now host only four pre-nomination screenings and cannot host any post-nomination screenings. While private viewings of a film aren’t considered to be FYC events, the Academy now forbids any motion picture company to organize, fund, or endorse any private viewing held by an Academy member. There was mounting controversy with actress Frances Fisher, who hosted private viewings of To Leslie and attempted to influence voters to pick Andrea Riseborough via Twitter and Instagram.

There was also a controversy with Academy President Janet Yang publicly advocating for Michelle Yeoh to win the Oscar on Instagram via a post she quickly deleted. However, this has led the Academy to enact a series of changes in regard to social media posts for the Board of Governors. According to THR, “unless they are directly associated with the film, governors may no longer (a) publicly endorse a film or filmmaking achievement during the time between the announcement of shortlists and the close of final voting; (b) host private events or gatherings celebrating a film or filmmaking achievement; or (c) host screenings or moderate Q&As or panels unless the Academy convenes them.”

Finally, the Academy is also banning film companies to send any physical material pertaining to a film for consideration, including postcards and screening schedules. The Academy previously banned them from sending physical screeners to members a few years ago.

These rules see a sweeping change in the Academy for how “grassroots” campaigns are held. While some have defended the social media campaign for Andrea Riseborough, many awards pundits were baffled by how bizarre it has gotten, with many actors copying the same message on their social media pages to generate buzz for Riseborough’s performance, which was non-existent prior to the campaign. Here’s hoping the next season will have fewer surprises of the sort.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter


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Written by Maxance Vincent

Maxance Vincent is a freelance film and TV critic, and a recent graduate of a BFA in Film Studies at the Université de Montréal. He is currently finishing a specialization in Video Game Studies, focusing on the psychological effects regarding the critical discourse on violent video games.

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