Mon | Aug 21, 2017

Oscars for World Issues

Published:Sunday | March 6, 2016 | 3:00 AMKrysta Anderson
Oscar host Chris Rock.
Leonardo DiCaprio
Kevin Hart
Lady Gaga, center, performs "Til It Happens To You" that is nominated for best original song from "The Hunting Ground" on stage with survivors of abuse at the Oscars.
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The Oscars are all about celebrating outstanding performances in Hollywood, both on and off the screen. But this year, as the night progressed, many proved that it is, in fact, their action of taking on issues affecting the real world that is most deserving of a humanitarian award.

 

Racial issues

The first award for the night goes to host Chris Rock for his racially risquÈ monologue and quips throughout the night. In true Chris Rock fashion, he made references to the Oscars being so white, while tackling the boycott executed by several black actors and director who felt snubbed by the nomination process.

In his opening, he stated, "In the '60s, black people did not protest. Why? Because we had real things to protest at the time. When your grandmother is swinging from a tree, its really hard to care about the best documentary foreign short." He also highlighted, "It's not about boycotting or anything, we want opportunity. We want black actors to get the same opportunities."

Some say he went a bit too far in calling out those who took that path, while others applauded him for going there and playing it out the way he did. But no one can deny that he took the opportunity to use the main stage as a platform for diversity.

The best supporting award in addressing the race card went to actor and comedian Kevin Hart, who also weighed in on the issue. He urged actors of colour within the industry not to let the negativity take away from the hard work they have been doing over the years. "At the end of the day, we love what we do and we're breaking major ground doing it. These problems of today will eventually become problems of the old. Let's not this negative issue of diversity beat us," he asserted before introducing The Weeknd to perform.

While Best Director for the Revenant, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, also won in our humanitarian book, when, after his many thanks, he took the opportunity to jump on the race train. "So what a great opportunity to our generation, to really liberate ourselves from all prejudice and this tribal thinking, and make sure once and forever that the colour of skin becomes as irrelevant as the length of our hair."

 

Rape and Abuse

Other winners included singer and nominee for the night, Lady Gaga, who earned her humanitarian award when she moved the audience to tears with her beautiful rendition of her Oscar-awarded original song Til It Happened to You, from the movie, Hunting Ground. The song, which highlights the issue of rape, also encouraged Gaga to face her own fear, with a backdrop of living survivors of rape and abuse who, in the end, joined hands in solidarity against abuse. Fantastic job!

And we would like to also congratulate Vice-President of the United States Joe Biden, who had this to say just before introducing Gaga, "Too many men and women around the country are still victims of sexual abuse." He said, "We must and we can change the culture so that no sexual abuse survivor thinks they did anything wrong."

 

Climate Change

When actor and producer Leonardo DiCapro finally won the Academy Award for Best Actor, we all jumped for joy at his achievement. He thanked everyone who helped him on his journey, and then this happened: "Climate change is real, it is happening right now, it is the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating. We need to support leaders around the world who do not speak for the big polluters or the big corporations, but who speak for all of humanity. For the indigenous people of the world, for the billions and billions of underprivileged people who will be most affected by this, for our children's children, and for those people out there whose voices have been drowned out by the politics of greed. I thank you all for this award tonight. Let us not take this planet for granted. I do not take tonight for granted."

His profound acceptance speech had us all thinking, bringing him into our winner's circle here today.

Gender Equality

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy won for best documentary short - A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness, making history, not only as the first Pakistani to receive two Oscars, but took girl power to a whole new level when she stood by her documentary of uplifting women.

Gender inequality is a big issue in Pakistan, and in declaring that this is what happened when determined women get together, she thanked Qaiser, "the girl in my film who remarkably survived honour killing and shared her story." She also expressed her gratitude to, "to all the brave men out there, like my father and my husband who push women to go to school and work and who want a more just society for women." If that isn't worthy of a humanitarian Oscar, I don't know what is. Congrats Obaid-Chinoy!

 

Self Esteem and encouragement

And our last, but most certainly not least humanitarian Oscar award goes to Pete Docter. He took to the stage to accept his award for best animation for Inside Out. If you were watching closely, you would have seen him shatter the issue of low self-esteem in his speech, encouraging those who live on the gloomy side of life to express themselves, "There are days you're going to feel sad, you're going to feel angry, you're going to feel scared, that's nothing you can choose. But you can make stuff. Make films. Draw. Write. It'll make a world of difference."

krysta.anderson@gleanerjm.com