For entertainment-obsessed millennials and boomers alike, The Oscars are basically the non-violent equivalent of The Super Bowl. And the similarities are uncanny: a wildly elongated Sunday night tradition of gathering around the television to watch the year’s best talent compete for heavy metal trophies signifying that they are, in fact, premiere entertainers.
Admittedly, the 2015 Oscars were rather dull. Especially to those who were not excitedly gathered around the television with empty ballots in their hands and champagne bubbles in their hearts. While Neil Patrick Harris was not a bad host, nothing about his performance was exceptional (except for maybe his 41 year old tighty-whitey physique.)
Nonetheless, this year’s awards proved notable in my mind as the winners utilized the unique opportunity that their acceptance speeches provide to touch upon important human rights issues. Here are my three favorite examples (in no particular order):
Patricia Arquette: Best Supporting Actress, Boyhood
Arquette, a fourth generation Hollywood actor who has been largely overlooked as one of the greats throughout her career used her acceptance speech for Best Supporting Acress as a way to address the issue of wage equality for women in america.
Graham Moore: Best Adapted Screenplay, The Imitation Game
In his acceptance speech, Moore reflected on a time in his young life when he considered suicide. His revealing and emotional assertion to "Stay Weird" touched us all & proved that perhaps we truly do live in a world where the status quo no longer has the last laugh. You can watch Moore's full speech HERE.
John Legend and Common: Best Original Song, "Glory"
John Legend and Common’s performance of their song “Glory”, written for the film Selma, yielded three standing ovations. The song was heartfelt and their joint acceptance speech, too, touched upon deep seeded racial and political issues that still plague our country in 2015.
“We know that the voting rights that they fought for 50 years ago is being compromised in this country today” –John Legend
You can watch their full acceptance video HERE.
These three moments prove that the Oscars have the power to do a bit more than just showcase evening gowns. Following the awards, I took to the Internet to absorb some of the media buzz surrounding the event. I was happy to see that the aforementioned moments were among the most talked about. Although it is important to note that John Travolta is getting very creepy with age, the issue doesn't quite compare to civil rights. There were, however, two media headlines that troubled me:
Oscar-Winning Imitation Game Writer Graham Moore: "I'm Not Gay"
....So? Are we supposed to care if he is gay? If we are it is only because online media's constant outpour of information had made us this way. The kind of people that Graham Moore wants to bed is nobody's business but his and it certainly shouldn't be in the headlines. The distinction that he is straight and weird and not gay and weird takes away from the message of his speech. It is not news. It is just gossip. And cheap gossip at that.
Wes Anderson Brought His Girlfriend to the Oscars, She's Pretty I Guess
You've got to be kidding me. And posted by a woman, at that. Shame on you.
For the most part, however, online media’s reactions to the star studded night veered away from blatant woman shaming and gay-detecting and stuck to the speeches, dresses, and parties. As, I suppose, they should. Still, once the red carpet is rolled up and the dresses are sent back to the showrooms, these issues do not go away.