Are politics appropriate for The Oscars?


Regina Payne, Contributing Writer

In general, the purpose of The Oscars is about noticing the achievements of film. The awards that are given are to movies, and actors. When a movie or actor wins, the director or the actor shuffles up to the stage and waves out to the crowd with ecstatic looks on their faces. Once the crowd has calmed down they say “wow” or something similar and then acknowledge the people that have helped them along the way. After this, their tone becomes more serious and some actors may choose to recognize problems in the world that are important to them. 

During the 92nd Academy Awards Ceremony, Joaquin Phoenix was awarded Best Actor for his performance as Arthur Fleck in the hit movie “Joker.” Like many other Oscar winners, Phoenix was grateful for his achievement but was visibly modest about it. The part of his speech where he was thanking people was extremely brief and he moved right on to the political portion of his speech. In his speech he talked about how we plunder and exploit the Earth’s resources. For example, he talked about our usage of cows for milk. Phoenix then went on to say that we are afraid of change but are inventive and capable of making a change that could be beneficial to everyone. He ended this speech with a lyric that his late brother wrote; “Run to the rescue with love, and peace will follow.”

Phoenix’s speech was very moving to the audience and brought up an important subject that is relevant to our time now. But is using an award speech for a political statement appropriate? Or should an awards speech only be used for thanking others for your achievements?

Using an award speech to voice significant world problems is important. It brings awareness to the millions of people that are viewing The Oscars. It may even unfold brand new ways of thinking, somewhat similar to The Silk Road in the West, which shared new ideas and religions. A way that this also benefits the more normal viewers like us is that we might see one of our favorite actors on the stage talking about a problem that interests us, spark inspiration in us and cause us to try and take action in helping with the problem that’s being recognized. The audience members that are lucky enough to be in the crowd of The Academy Awards can help in bigger ways. They obviously have tons of money, so they might decide to reach into their wallets and donate large amounts of money to someone’s cause. 

Although, some people see it as disrespectful to talk about politics during their award speech. They say that the Oscars is a time to focus on celebrating the art of film and the actors that participate in it.  While this is true, it’s also a big opportunity for actors to bring awareness to subjects that are much more important than entertainment. 

Overall, I believe that using an awards speech is an appropriate and important usage of time. It can shine light on problems that may be not as focused on such as the concentration camps in China. It can also emphasize the more popular problems that have been going on for a while and get people to do something about it. Talking about politics gives us the opportunity to see the opinions of actors we admire and possibly support them in fixing problems in the world.