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Speaking Up at the Oscars

Rachel Auslander

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[ot-caption title=”Patricia Arquette accepts the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress at the 87th Academy Awards on February 22, 2015. (AP Images/John Shearer)” url=”http://pctypeone.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Screen-Shot-2015-02-28-at-11.57.56-PM.png”]

Aside from the glamor and stellar performances, the 87th Academy Awards on February 22nd were different from every awards event before. The Oscars is a night to honor the best film in Hollywood each year, but this year, it brought more attention towards social justice. Celebrities not only “thanked the Academy” in their acceptance speeches, but also encouraged the national community to stand up for numerous issues.

Patricia Arquette called for equal pay in her acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actress for Boyhood saying, “To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, it is time to have wage equality once and for all. And equal rights for women in the United States of America.” This statement was met with enthusiastic cheers from the audience, especially Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lopez, whose reactions were turned into a gif. Emma Watson, the UN Women Goodwill Ambassador for the HeForShe movement, even tweeted her approval, among other celebrities and empowered teenage girls. After the Oscars, Arquette also tweeted reasons about why she believes in equal pay, and hopefully her words will bring more attention to gender discrimination in Hollywood .

The hashtag #AskHerMore trended on Twitter to encourage red carpet interviewers to ask female celebrities more than “Who are you wearing?” When asked about this, Reese Witherspoon said, “This is a movement to say we’re more than just our dresses. There are forty-four nominees this year that are women and we are so happy to be here and talk about the work that we’ve done. It’s hard being a woman in Hollywood, or any industry.” Women are more than their clothing and looks, whether on the red carpet or in the workplace.

A protest was scheduled outside the Dolby Theater due to the lack of diversity among the nominees. However, it was cancelled at the request of Ava DuVernay, the director of Selma. All twenty actors who were nominated are Caucasian, which has not occurred since 1998. Even Neil Patrick Harris recognized this by opening the Oscars with the remark, “Tonight we honor Hollywood’s best and whitest… I mean brightest.”

In her acceptance speech for Best Short Documentary, the co-director of Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1, Dana Perry, dedicated her win to her son, Evan, who committed suicide at age 15. She spoke about a greater awareness of suicide by not “sweeping it under the rug” and actually take time to talk about it. Also, Graham Moore mentioned his suicide attempt at age sixteen in his acceptance speech for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Imitation Game, and dedicated his Oscar to “the kid that doesn’t fit in.” He encouraged young people to be true to themselves, and to “stay weird, stay different.”

Most of the viewers were happily shocked with the amount of calls for social action during the Oscars. If actors and actresses continue to use the limelight as an opportunity to promote social change, hopefully more action can be taken to support these causes. Viewers are excited to see whether this trend of powerful acceptance speeches will continue in the future.

Sources: Time, The Independent, ABC News, LA Times, Twitter, Slate

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Speaking Up at the Oscars