The Oscars’ politics
Hollywood’s brightest stars express themselves for change.
March 27, 2017
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With hate crimes on the rise, human rights being violated and threats to the First Amendment, everyone knows that modern times are times of division within the United States. An effective way for one to get their message out would be to use their privilege and share their opinions in a situation in which millions are watching.
Many celebrities at the Academy Awards did just that. One such awardee is Asghar Farhadi, director of “The Salesman,” the victorious foreign feature film. Farhadi did not attend the ceremonies but did write a message to be read on his behalf.
“I’m sorry I’m not with you tonight. My absence is out of respect for the people of my country and those of other six nations whom have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the US,” Farhadi wrote. “Dividing the world into the ‘us’ and ‘our enemies’ categories creates fear, a deceitful justification for aggression and war. These wars prevent democracy and human rights in countries which have themselves been victims of aggression.”
Farhadi took his message a step further by mentioning what can be done to help. The director made suggestions to those in the industry in which he is successful: film.
“Filmmakers can turn their cameras to capture shared human qualities and break stereotypes of various nationalities and religions. They create empathy between us and others, an empathy which we need today more than ever,” Farhadi wrote.
Announcer Gael García Bernal also made his opinion heard. Bernal expressed feelings of negativity toward the division between countries in Trump’s America, particularly between United States and Mexico.
“Flesh and blood actors are migrant workers. We travel all over the world. We build families we construct stories. We build life. That cannot be divided,” Bernal said. “As a Mexican, as a Latin American, as a migrant worker, as a human being, I am against any form of wall that wants to separate us.”
Raed Saleh, head of the group known as “White Helmets,” or officially “Syria Civil Defence,” is a group that goes in and rescues people after bombings occur. The short film/documentary “The White Helmets” puts the group in the spotlight. Saleh, although not in attendance wanted to spread his message.
“We are so grateful that this film has highlighted our work to the world,” Saleh wrote. “Our organization is guided by a verse by the Quran, ‘To save one life is to save all of humanity.’ We have saved more than 82,000 Syrian lives. I Invite anyone here, who hears me to work on a side of life to stop the bloodshed in Syria and around the world.”
Speeches throughout the night touched bases with issues of representation, police brutality and racially motivated crime. Many celebrities wore different ribbons for various causes. An example of this is the blue ribbon that has the letters ACLU written on it. ACLU stands for American Civil Liberties Union, a non-for-profit that protects Americans’ rights.
History was made for minorities in the United States the night of the Academy Awards. Mahershala Ali became the first Muslim Oscar winner and Viola Davis became the first black woman to win an Oscar, Tony and Emmy for acting.
“I became an artist and thank God I did, because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life,” Davis said.
Although some may not have enjoyed their relaxing night of the Oscars turning into something so political, it is what needed to be done to see change. After all, change and expression are what Hollywood is all about. This is why people like Byron Howard, co-director of the animated social commentary, “Zootopia,” do what they do.
“We got this crazy idea of talking about humanity with talking animals in the hopes that when the film came out it would make the world just a slightly better place,” Howard said.