Should Politics Be in Acceptance Speeches?

Photo courtesy of The BBC.

Photo courtesy of The BBC.

With award season in full swing, another intensely debated topic is being brought to the attention of actors, actresses, and movie fans everywhere. This controversial subject is whether or not politics should be a part of acceptance speeches. In recent years, it seems as if there hasn’t been a single award speech that doesn’t reference some major world issues. The question being raised in Hollywood, as well as across the United States, is if actors and actresses should stick to their jobs or use their platforms for leverage.

The first major award show to kick-off 2020 was the 77th Golden Globes which took place on January 5th. Host Ricky Gervais, an actor and comedian, decided to begin the show by telling the audience that he simply did not care about their opinions. Many were shocked by the blunt nature of Gervais’ monologue and jokes, but his remarks on political commentary made headlines the following morning.

In his speech to Hollywood’s most powerful men and women Gervais said, “You’re in no position to lecture the public about anything, you know nothing about this real world.” This seemed to have no effect on the members of the audience, as they continued to make politically-charged speeches throughout the night. Most notable of these were Brad Pitt’s remarks on Trump’s acquittal and Joaquin Phoenix’s message about animal rights.

The following month, during Pitt’s Oscar acceptance speech for his Best Supporting Actor win, he dedicated his time to Trump’s impeachment trial. In part, he stated: “They told me I have 45 seconds up here, which is 45 seconds more than the Senate gave John Bolton this week.” When Joaquin Phoenix won Best Actor he used his time to say, “…we’re talking about the fight against the belief, one nation, one race, one gender, or one species has the right to dominate, control and use and exploit another with impunity.”

Brad Pitt and Joaquin Phoenix weren’t the only actors to share their thoughts on major world issues during the Oscars, and they likely will not be the last. However, people also agree with Ricky Gervais that award ceremonies should only be used as a way to celebrate the work of Hollywood’s elite, not try to solve the world’s problems.

While some fans may view these heartfelt speeches as a great way for actors and actresses to use their platform, others feel celebrities use politics as a ploy to make themselves look better. Another name for this is “moral grandstanding.” Many celebrities are accusing their peers of grandstanding in order to gain a better reputation from the public. “Moral grandstanding”, as explained by CNN News, is the act of agreeing with popular worldviews in order to appear more favorable to the public.

Many argue that giving these speeches in award shows can be both beneficial and detrimental to solving these problems. It is important that celebrities use their platform to spread awareness about causes that are important to them. This could help create new solutions and inspire their fans to assist the cause as well.

However, others believe celebrities should make sure they are well-educated on the topics they love to talk about so much. They must also ensure they are not being repetitive as so many celebrities preach the same causes and rarely change their perspectives on them. If they are not going to be well-informed on topics, deliver these topics to audiences from a new angle, or show constant support for these causes, it seems hypocritical to speak about them at all.

So, should celebrities be allowed to share their political and social views in their acceptance speeches? Are they in any way beneficial to the causes and problems they are hoping to bring attention to? It is extremely unlikely that we will see celebrities stop showing their support for the causes they believe in. It is likely that the only changes we may see will be how they adapt to changes in the industry and the world.