Social protest and change at the Oscars

ERIN BAKER

Guest Writer

bakeree@plu.edu

On Feb. 28, the one and only Leonardo DiCaprio snatched a prestigious Oscar Statuette. For many people, including myself, this event was a long time coming.

I heard about the news late Sunday night when I was supposed to be writing a research paper. I sat in the lounge refreshing all my social media platforms, waiting to see who won Best Actor. I may have screamed a little too loudly when Leo’s face flashed on my screen as the winner but I was too excited to care.

After calming down, I waited to see videos of his acceptance speech. This past year, Leo won many different awards for his role in “The Revenant” and he has always demonstrated great humility in his acceptance speeches. For example, during the Golden Globes, he emphasized the importance of recognizing the issues facing indigenous people, stating “It is time we that we recognize your history and that we protect your indigenous lands from corporate interests…”

At the Oscars, Leo emphasized another issue in his acceptance speech: climate change. He states that 2015 “was the hottest year in recorded history” and calls out big corporations who move further south to find snow for production. He calls for everyone to not take the planet for granted. Because the Oscars are so widely viewed, I thought he made a great statement. Calling attention to this major issue is a great way to get the audience to recognize what is going on with climate change. A big platform can bring about big change.oscar-trophy-1

However, some people disagree with the social protests that are present at the Oscars. One may question, shouldn’t the Oscars merely be for entertainment? It should be about the movies and that’s it.

The 2016 Oscars were filled with more than just Leo’s pro-environment speech. In his opening speech, Chris Rock brought attention to the racial disparity of the nominees, as well as police brutality towards black teenagers and adults. Lady Gaga shone a light on sexual violence on college campuses with the cast of her music video of “Till It Happens to You.”

The Oscars was full of discussion surrounding social issues. These protests call attention to certain issues and reach a massive audience. By having these issues talked about by popular stars, people will be able to recognize the problems in their own lives.

I believe these protests are incredibly useful. With the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement and the problems spurred by climate change, it is necessary that influential people take a stand. As much as I want to believe that people would act on their own to solve these issues, this is obviously not the case.

In the future, hopefully we’ll see an Academy Awards show where black actors are as fairly represented as white actors. Maybe people will take more of an interest in changing to sustainable ways of living and be active towards slowing down climate change.

All in all, social protests at the Oscars are entirely necessary in contemporary society. Our human minds can focus on more than just entertainment.

The 2016 Academy Awards demonstrated that social change is necessary, and it’s coming full force.

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