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Stephen King

Stephen King’s Controversial Comments on Diversity Draw Varied Reaction

NBCUniversal, Inc.

One of Maine's most famous figures is being slammed online for espousing a controversial view.

Thousands of people responded to horror author Stephen King Tuesday after at tweet in which he said, "I would never consider diversity in matters of art, it seems to me that to do otherwise would be wrong."

The author made the statement in describing how he would conduct judging for the Academy Awards.

Critics included other authors and fans who called King's comments "unfair" and disappointing.

"Quite honestly, it was the blindness of white privilege sort of smacking you in the face," said Wes Jackson, director of the Business Creative Enterprises Program at Emerson College.

Jackson, who had followed King and admired him and his work, says the author's comments were confusing and off-brand for someone he saw as "progressive."

"If you make no effort to watch movie from Jordan Peele or other black directors, how can you possibly make the best decision?" asked Jackson.

In Maine, where libraries and stores have entire sections dedicated to Stephen King sections, the comments were not seen as controversial or shocking.

"I've only really heard a couple political things he said," one King reader said at Longfellow Books in Portland.

"When it comes to art, it's more about the quality, rather than the diversity," said Susan Roux, an artist and owner of a fine arts gallery.

Roux says she has works from people from all kinds of ethnic and economic backgrounds and her clients look at quality above all else.

"I show art from 10 different countries over here," she said. "If I didn't mark where the art was coming from, nobody would be able to tell the difference."

King himself followed up his comments up a different way.

Hours after his initial tweet, he took to Twitter again saying, "the most important thing we can do as artists is make sure everyone has the same fair shot regardless of sex, color or orientation. Right now such people are badly under represented and not only in the arts."

Jackson says that explanation still falls a bit flat and thinks the Oscars and the art world won't be truly diverse until the issue affects companies' bottom lines.

"These movements tend to switch when the dollar starts to affect you," he said.

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