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Is there more to the Oscars than ‘just an Award Gala’?

Before one of the most important award shows of the season had actually started, it had made itself the topic of controversiality already when announcing the nomminees. With many people thinking that the wins of ‘Twelve years a slave’ last year would be a game changer, the dissatisfaction and anger about Selma - a historical and biographical movie on Martin Luther King’s campaign for equal voting rights – having been nominated for only two Oscars, was big. The Oscars are too ‘white’, the Oscars aren’t diverse. The Oscars….are an award gala praising movies and actors, can we ask of such an event for it to be political correct? Yes. Apparently we can. Feather of Hope took a look at the Award Gala which took place a week ago and listed the major gamechangers of the 87th edition of the Academy Awards.

1. #AskHerMore – Reese Witherspoon

The #AskHerMore campaign is a campaign that tries red carpert interviewers to ask actresses more interesting questions than about the details about their dresses. Actress Reese Witherspoon, nominated for an Oscar for her role in Wild, wholeheartedly supports this campaign. Before appearing on the carpet she made a statement on her Instagram, saying that when asked she would not give away who designed her dress, indicating she rather be asked some deeper questions. Witherspoon is not the only actress who has had enough of the “red carpet sexism”, Cate Blanchett and Elisabeth Moss showed their displeasement already during the previous Oscars.

2. The Oscars are too white – Selma being snubbed

The public was so angry when Selma only got two nominations that they planned on demonstrating at the Oscars. The Oscars were too ‘white’, a remark that has become even more controversial since the events in Ferguson in 2014 which revitalized the debate on discrimination based on ethnicity or race. The demonstration was eventually canceled on request of the director, and Selma did win an award in the end, the one for best movie soundtrack. John Legend and Common aptly made use of his time on stage to speak up for abovementioned injustice:  “We say that 'Selma' is now, because the struggle for justice is right now," Legend said. "We know that the voting rights act that they fought for 50 years ago is being compromised right now in this country today. We know that right now the struggle for freedom and justices where we live in the most incarcerated country in the world."
Watch the full speech here.

3. Stay weird – Graham Moore

Writer Graham Moore won the Oscar for best adapted screenplay for the movie The Imitation Game. After having thanked everyone, Graham shared some of his personal experiences with the audience. Moore explained that he tried to kill himself at the age of 16 because he felt different and as if he didn’t belong before directing his words to ‘the kid out there who feels like she’s weird or different or she doesn’t fit in’, saying: “Yes, you do. I promise you do. You do. Stay weird, stay different. And then when it’s your turn and you’re standing on this stage, please pass this message to the next person who comes along.
Watch Graham’s speech here.

4. Immigration reform – Alejandro Inarritu
Alejandro G. Inarritu during 

Alejandro Inarritu won the Best Director for Birdman. Earlier on the evening, Sean Penn introduced Alejandro by asking ‘who gave the director his green card?’ A green card needed for foreigners to legally reside in the USA, and the joke was thus awkwardly referring to the immigration issues between the USA and Mexico. Alejandro himself referred to the migration problems and increasing xenophobia as well in his acceptance speech. He hoped that also new immigrants from Mexico would be treated with respect and dignity.

5. Equal rights and wages for women – Patricia Arquette

If you get Meryl Streep and JLo to get up from their chairs and cheer for you, you know you did something right. And that is exactly what Patricia Arquette, winner of the Oscar for best supporting actress for the movie Boyhood, did. Using the majority of her acceptance speech, like so many others that night, for completely different purposes than to thank people, she powerfully called for woman to finally receive equal wages compared to men, and for equal rights for women. “It's our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America.
Watch Patricia Arquette’s speech here.

The examples mentioned here seem to indicate that these days, winning an Oscar is not just about recognition of that persons work and the artistic quality of a movie anymore. It seems like people expect the Oscars to be a way of praising those movies that contribute to society, and that the winners don’t want their speech to just be about thanking their close relatives and friends anymore, but rather use their time to speak up for the causes close to their heart. The Oscar’s seem to have become a symbol or a mirror, reflecting the societal problems and dynamics living in that moment. The Oscars seem to have become much more than ‘just an Award Gala’.

Dieuw (@Diejj)


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