Award shows have quickly become a platform for celebrities to preach their beliefs or give their two cents about different social issues that they feel need attention. I don’t blame them. If I were to get the chance to speak to 50 million people all at once in what is pretty much a captive audience, I would do the same thing. Even better for the Oscars, Hollywood tends to have a much more liberal look at things.
Even tough guy and a man’s man Clint Eastwood, who is a well noted republican, has been vocal about his support for gay marriage. He has been quoted. “These people who are making a big deal out of gay marriage? I don’t give a f*ck about who wants to get married to anybody else! Why not?! We’re making a big deal out of things we shouldn’t be making a deal out of.”
This year at the Oscars, there was no shortage of winners trying to make a difference in the world by using their precious 45 seconds on stage to drive their personal message home.
From Alzheimers to Mothers, it seems like we covered every single possible social message we could. However, I decided to make a list of the 5 Best Social Messages from this year’s Oscars.
(I would like to start this off by saying that I’m not belittling or discounting any other issues that were addressed throughout the night. These are, in my opinion, simply the best delivered messages.)
1. J.K Simmons (Best Supporting Actor winner for “Whiplash”) on Parents
Simmons is best known for his comedic roles in film and television from the “Spider-man” series to “Juno”, and his speech proved that he knows how to get a laugh. However, adding to his words about his wife and children, he said:
“Call your mom, call your dad. If you’re lucky enough to have a parent or two alive on this planet, call ‘em. Don’t text. Don’t email. Call them on the phone. Tell ‘em you love ‘em, and thank them, and listen to them for as long as they want to talk to you. Thank you. Thank you, Mom and Dad.”
If this coupled with the McDonald’s Superbowl ad doesn’t make you call your parents right now, then you might have a problem.
2. Ellen Goosenberg Kent and Dana Perry (Best Documentary Short winners for “Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1”
The winning documentary already did a lot to spread the message about the helpfulness of crisis hotlines. However, their speech brought that message to a new and personal level. After mentioning that she lost her son to suicide, Dana Perry pleaded that, “we should talk about suicide out loud.”
3. Alexandro G. Iñárritu (Director of Best Picture winner “Birdman”) on Immigrants in America
The win for Iñárritu was an important one. He was almost the only person of color to win an award, make that three, during the course of the ceremony.
He turned his attention to Mexicans in Mexico and in this country, adding, “I just pray that they could be treated with the same dignity and respect of the ones who came before and built this incredible immigrant nation.”
4. Patricia Arquette (Best Supporting Actress winner for “Boyhood”) on Women’s rights
When Patricia Arquette brought out the piece of paper that she’s been using since the beginning of her sweep of the awards season, I was nervous that we’d get another jumbled, hurried mess of a speech. However, she quickly got through her general thank you’s to pull an Alice Ripley at the Tonys and take on wage equality for women.
She said, “to every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”
Then, following huge cheers from the crowd, including the most gif-able moment of the Oscars with Meryl Streep giving her praise to the actress, Arquette simply left the stage without another word. The perfect mic drop.
5. Graham Moore (Best Adapted Screenplay winner for “The Imitation Game”) on being yourself
“The Imitation Game” scribe pretty much had everything he needed in an Oscar speech. The laughs, the sentiment, the gratitude. However, it’s when he revealed that he tried to commit suicide at the age of 16 that his speech became one of the greatest in Oscar history.
Starting off his gorgeous speech closer with “I want this moment to be that kid out there who feels like she’s weird or she’s different or she doesn’t fit in anywhere.” Before he ended it with “Stay weird. Stay different.”
The world that millennials, especially the younger ones, have to live in is a hard one. We’re bombarded with images of people that we can never be like and goals that we may never achieve. Despite all the progress we’ve made, there are still groups that are being oppressed. Diseases still run rampant. Teens are still being bullied. People are still being misunderstood.
That’s why people like Graham Moore, Patricia Arquette, and J.K. Simmons are important. While they were being feted for their own work, they decided to spend their time uniting us as a nation and reminding us that change still has to happen.
As Best Original Song winner John Legend put it, we must “reflect the time in which we live” and “march on.”