Academy award winners use acceptance speeches to preach acceptance

While the Oscars were a televised event of musical numbers and stars dressed in gorgeous evening wear, there was something about the ceremony that resurrected more feelings than usual. As is the norm at award shows, actors accepted awards with meaningful and poignant speeches.

Everyone knows that most award ceremonies are four hours long and full of silly questions and sillier celebrities. Every award has more specifications than the next and Jennifer Lopez always finds a way to get herself and her cleavage on television. Yet, with a significant amount of nominated films dealing with sensitive subject matters such as depression, homosexuality, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and the difficulty of growing up, the focus of the Oscars was on something more than the celebrities.

Patricia Arquette began the night by accepting her award for Best Supporting Actress and stated, “To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America.” Can I get an amen? Many women in the audience gave a standing ovation to these words so it's obvious Arquette’s words meant something to the audience as well.

Graham Moore won Best Adapted Screenplay for "The Imitation Game" and he delivered a passionate speech saying, “When I was 16 years old, I tried to kill myself because I felt weird and I felt different, and I felt like I did not belong. And now I’m standing here, and so I would like this moment to be for this kid out there who feels like she’s weird or she’s different or she doesn’t fit in anywhere: Yes, you do. I promise you, you do. Stay weird, stay different.” Another standing ovation was rendered for this emotional speech and it became clear a trend was emerging.

The final award for Best Picture was given to “Birdman” and director Alejandro González Iñárritu ended the night with a call to action for Mexicans abroad and his hopes for those who live in the United States. He said, "I want to dedicate this award for my fellow Mexicans, the ones who live in Mexico. I pray that we can find and build the government that we deserve. And the ones that live in this country, who are part of the latest generation of immigrants in this country, I just pray that they can be treated with the same dignity and respect of the ones who came before and built this incredible immigrant nation." A particularly timely and appropriate speech in light of President Obama’s immigration executive action being under scrutiny in Washington in recent days.

It seems as if celebrities have picked up on the fact that most regular people care little for the speeches, especially when they are full of seemingly meaningless gratifications for people unknown to anyone except the actor. I’m not saying that people shouldn’t be thanked during speeches, but it seems as if more and more celebrities are thanking the necessary people quickly and then moving on to bring attention to important causes. And I can’t help but bring attention to the fact that most of the speeches ended in record time with a select few needing music to awkwardly cut off their rambling speech.

If this year's Oscars taught us anything, it is that speeches matter because words matter. Use words wisely when given a national stage and use them for the betterment of society and the world. Moreover, the stars from Sunday night proved you can make a social impact beyond the silver screen.

Lilly is a freshman writer for The Daily Cardinal. What's your stance on celebrities using acceptance speeches for social issues? We'd like to hear your perspective. Please send all feedback to opinion@dailycardinal.com.

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