Award show speeches are either boring drivel, light-hearted banter, or politically charged rants. Should winning celebs stick to the soft stuff or should they delve into the issues facing our current social climate? I think if it needs to be said, and they have the platform to say it, why is it an issue?
Taking advantage of a big opportunity to speak out against important issues in front of a big audience is making a statement. News outlets will report on it, the speech will get attention on social media, and it will be talked about by the general public. It is brave and it is bold. If the issue is important and needs attention, I don’t care who says it and if they have won an award, why not? They have been rewarded for a spectacular performance in their field, and if they choose to use their speech to bring attention to significant issues that they feel strongly about, I feel like that is justified and a brave use of the platform.
Ricky Gervais recently tweeted saying, ‘come up, accept your little award, thank your agent and your god and f— off’ in regards to political speeches. He argues that it is hypocritical for these celebs to be ranting about serious issues when they, “know nothing about the real world”. I see his point. I think it is a good one, but I’d much rather hear a passionate speech from the heart about animal rights, like those from Joaquin Phoenix, than a low effort attempt at comedy like Rebel Wilson’s recent Bafta speech. I know some people would have found it hilarious, but for me, it was just cringe. It didn’t do anything to increase my awareness of bigger issues, give me food for thought, or make me question the world around me, apart from questioning why I’d wasted 4 minutes of my time watching her speech. I feel the same about the classic ‘I’d like to thank…’. I get why they are important for the awards winner, but everyone else just zones out. They are exactly the parts I’d fast forward or mute. If you have time to make a speech where all eyes are on you, at least make it worthwhile.
Of course, in today’s social media-centred society, most celebrities know that a politically driven speech will receive attention from the public, and it can be a motive for media attention and positive praise online. Though they can be used as a device for attention, if the topic matter is important, then I don’t really care about the motive behind the speech, so long as the content is important and can benefit from being addressed. In an ideal world, celebs would be raising awareness of issues that they actually care about, regardless of the praise they’d receive for talking about them, but I’d rather they get talked about, even if it isn’t always out of the goodness of their hearts, then not at all.
Realistically, I don’t think those of us sitting at home should be too strongly concerned with how the award winners make use of their stage time. For example, people were recently disgruntled that the ‘Parasite’ award-winning speech was partially in Korean. It is the winner’s platform, and the winner’s opportunity to say whatever they like, however they like, in whatever language they like. Ultimately, it’s their award not yours, so suck it up, let them say what they want to say, and move on.