Awards Show Speeches and Politics


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Many celebrities use their acceptance speeches as a platform for political expression.

The Academy Awards go beyond a simple night of Hollywood’s elites gathering together to celebrate their accomplishments in the film industry. The Awards present a unique opportunity for celebrities to stand up and address their opinions regarding current social and political issues. Celebrities’ acceptance speeches often mention controversial subjects of the time, such as climate change, minority rights, and political agendas. Although the value in the speeches is sometimes undermined by those who view the celebrities as rich, out-of-touch, narcissists, the Awards present a great platform for them to spread their messages to a large, international audience.

At this year’s Oscars, host Jimmy Kimmel ended his opening monologue by stating, “What you say is entirely up to you. You don’t have to change the world, do whatever you want. But with that said, here’s what we’re gonna do. Not saying you shouldn’t give a long speech, but whoever gives the shortest speech tonight will go home with a $17,999 jet ski.” While most of the celebrity audience, with their millions of dollars in the bank, would not take special interest in the prize jet-ski, with this statement Kimmel sent a powerful message to those nominated that this year’s Oscars should not become another long-winded rally.

Personally I believe politically driven acceptance speeches during ceremonies such as the Golden Globes and the Oscars, if well-planned and well-executed, have the potential to leave a real, lasting impact on people. I believe celebrities should use their power to support or fight for a personal cause from their lives or depicted in their movie or show.

There are multiple instances of driven speeches that have resonated well with audiences. In 2002, Halle Berry was the first woman of color to win an Oscar for Best Actress. Berry politely highlighted the historic and political significance of her victory.  Through tears of raw gratitude and happiness she said, “I am so honored, and I thank the Academy for choosing me to be the vessel from which this blessing might flow,” she said.

In 2015 when John Legend and Common won Best Song for the film Selma, they turned the victory into a call to action for inclusion and celebration of diversity. Legend said, “We wrote this song for a film that was based on events that were 50 years ago, but we say that Selma is now, because the struggle for justice is right now. We know that the Voting Rights Act that they fought for 50 years ago is being compromised right now.”

This actress and these singers have taken a personal message and shared it with the world during their acceptance speech. Over 26 million people watched the Oscars this year and hundreds of news sources covered the events throughout the following week, creating a widespread impact. When given the chance, I believe the victors should make the most of the time they are given to speak and use the exposure to spread their messages.

Sources: Fox News, Business Insider, Hollywood Reporter, Pop Sugar, Bustle

Photo Source: Flickr