This Year’s Oscars a Mixed Bag

I don’t usually watch the Oscars—I’m just not very into film. That being said, this year when I read about the ceremony and watched clips during the aftermath, I found myself feeling grateful that many nominees used their fame to bring attention to deeply important issues. Granted, some were misguided. While Chris Rock took the commendable approach of not skirting around the absence of black representation at the Oscars, he also failed to expand that talk to include other people of color. He even made an incredibly offensive joke about Asian Americans, bringing three Asian children onstage dressed as accountants. Sam Smith was also incorrect when he called himself the first openly gay man to win an Oscar. But, when Leo finally won his long-awaited award, he used his acceptance speech to advocate for climate change awareness.

But the thing that touched me the most was Lady Gaga’s perfomance of “Til It Happens to You,” her song about sexual assault, after being introduced by Vice President Joe Biden. Not only did this bring the hurtful narratives surrounding sex crimes to a national stage, but the comprehensive approach they both took in presenting it was impressive. During his speech, through which he encouraged people to intervene in cases of assault, he said, “Too many women and men … are still victims of sexual abuse.” And men. And men! Rarely anyone ever acknowledges that men, too, are assaulted and are victims of sex crimes. I was proud of the representation I saw in that phrase alone. But then, when Lady Gaga sang, she had a crowd of survivors join her on stage. The majority of them were women. But there were also several men in the mix.

The Oscars are about film. But what is film about if not the analysis of our human condition? I am more than pleased with the efforts of several celebrities who used their fame to do something worthwhile during this awards season.