Are Awards Ceremonies Becoming Too Political?

When January comes along that only means one thing. New year’s resolutions? Dry January? Nope, with the new year comes one thing, awards season. Every time awards season comes around we look at the best movies of the year, outstanding fashion moments and memorable performances form A-list stars. However, this season took an alternative route. Awards shows have now become a time for political activism rather than an hour of simple entertainment.  

The Golden Globes was one of the first major awards ceremonies to kick off the new year. Except this time around, we didn’t see the sparkly, comedic faces of Hollywood’s A-list TV and film stars. Instead the red carpet was painted with a sea of black gowns and tuxedos, all in support of the Times Up movement.  

The Times Up is a sister movement to #MeToo, in which men and women are coming out in support of victims of sexual harassment and assault. Women in Hollywood have banned together to help these women all across America after the Harvey Weinstein allegations. In order to show their solidarity for all women in America, nearly everyone who attended the Golden Globes wore black. Activism was a theme seen across the entire awards ceremony. From host Seth Meyers’ monologue, to Natalie Portman presenting Best Director and activists from the Times Up and MeToo movement in attendance.  

Possibly the most glass shattering movement at the ceremony was the acceptance speech of Oprah Winfrey. Winfrey was the recipient of the Cecil B. Demille Award, making her the first African-American woman to win. During her acceptance speech, Oprah delivered a powerful and inspiring speech that touched a global audience. Oprah honoured the women who have suffered from sexual harassment, but not just the women in the entertainment industry, but women all across the workplace. She urged not only women, but men as well to fight for justice.  

Oprah’s speech ignited a social media campaign calling for ‘Oprah 2020’. The political activism illustrated at the Golden Globes is nothing like we have seen before. Yes, in past ceremonies there were moments such as Meryl Streep’s speech last year about President Trump but nothing on the scale to which we are seeing today. To have every attendee bar three wear black in honour of the Times Up movement symbolises a societal shift in how women are treated.  

The Golden Globes wasn’t the only awards ceremony that has made a politically statement. The Grammys and more recently the BAFTAs came out in support of the Times Up movement. The Grammys red carpet was a more subtle protest, with artists and producers alike wearing a white rose pinned to the outfit. Not everyone in attendance worse this pin but stars such as Anna Kendrick, Miley Cyrus, Nick Jonas and Sam Smith wearing the star in honour of survivors of sexual harassment or abuse. However, once the ceremony began, political activism was at the forefront of the ceremony. Performances and speeches throughout the night were predominately politically charged.  

Kendrick Lamar opened the show with a performance reflecting police brutality against African Americans, Logic dedicated his song 1-800 to suicide awareness and immigration. Kesha sang a truly moving performance of her song Praying, about her recent legal battle due to sexual misconduct by producer Dr Luke. The nail in the coffin of the night was when celebs were reading extracts from Trump expose book, Fire and Fury and Hillary Clinton was seen reading a section.  

With all of the important social issues that were addressed through musical performances, the appearance of former US Secretary of State was outdated considering the US election happened over eighteen months ago. 

The BAFTAs was another awards show that took a political protest. The Times Up campaign has jumped across the bond as British actors, actresses and directors along with their American counterparts all wore black. This was to honour the survivors of sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace. 

Many people argue that these awards ceremonies are there to entertain people rather than deliver a political message. But with the mounting number of suicides, police brutalities and sexual harassment cases, shouldn’t celebrities use their platform to highlight these issues? In a world where so many people don’t have a voice, we need people to step up and defend the defenceless. Furthermore, it brings these issues to the forefront of society for those who may not be aware of the severity of the social issues at hand.  

Overall, while awards show and the entertainment industry have taken a more active role in social injustice issues, it has made us more aware of the issues at that need to be dealt with. Rather than burying our heads in the sand we are now coming face to face with these issues with the hope of coming to a solution.  

Photo by Miguel Bruna on Unsplash