Oscars 2016: Stars Bring Important Issues to Light

*This article does not represent the views of Her Campus FSU

Typically, I tend to try to stay away from Hollywood’s entertainment industry as much as possible. Like, yeah, I’ll go see Deadpool, but I won’t be waiting with my breath held to see if Ryan Reynolds gets any awards for it. Gossip, awards and all of that jazz that are stereotypically thought of as the only byproducts of the entertainment industry just really don’t interest me all that much in the grand scheme of things. So label me pleasantly surprised after watching snips of the Oscars 2016—the 88th Academy Awards when, rather than simply pushing their own careers more into the spotlight than they already were, some of our favorite stars used their celebrity platform as a tool to discuss important issues in front of the masses.

Courtesy: Mashable

Chris Rock

Here’s one thing Chris Rock didn’t do during his opening monologue: hold back. The #OscarsSoWhite hashtag has been floating around the internet to address the elephant in the room that is the prevalence of racial discrimination in Hollywood (and, well, the rest of the world). Primarily, #OscarsSoWhite sought to bring attention to the lack of attention on African American stars.

“It’s the 88th Academy Awards,” he said in his monologue. “It’s the 88th Academy Awards, which means this whole no black nominees thing has happened at least 71 other times. O.K.? You gotta figure that it happened in the 50s, in the 60s…I’m sure there were no black nominees some of those years. Say ’62 and ’63 and black people did not protest. Why? Because we had real things to protest at the time, ya know? We had real things to protest; you know, we’re too busy being raped and lynched to care about who won best cinematographer.”

On one hand, Rock brought up with poignancy the plight felt by African Americans throughout history and today. On the other, he made allusions at how far we have come as a society. Sure, racial discrimination exists; however, not to the degree it used to if we’re now holding the entertainment industry under critique for its racial inclusion. Rock identified that there is still a way to go with reaching racial equality, but we have also come far already.

Courtesy: E! Online

Leonardo DiCaprio

R.I.P. to some of our favorite memes of Leo crying over his lack of Oscars, because our boy has finally received one! After five acting nominations and one for Best Picture of the Year as a producer for The Wolf of Wall Street, DiCaprio finally walked onto stage to receive the award for Best Actor in Leading Role for The Revenant. He was first nominated for an Academy Award 22 years ago, so naturally this is a huge moment for DiCaprio. However, rather than taking the spotlight for himself (which was well-deserved), he spotlighted the issue of climate change.

“Making The Revenant was about man’s relationship to the natural world, a world that we collectively felt in 2015 as the hottest year in recorded history,” DiCaprio said. “Climate change is real, and it’s happening right now. It is the most urgent threat facing out entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating…If you do not believe in climate change, you do not believe in modern science or empirical truths and you will be on the wrong side of history.”

Perhaps it’s my Environmental Studies/Geography majors and my future Geographic Information Science masters degree, but wow. Thank you Leo for smacking the collective population over the head. Unfortunately, until we all look at the evidence and agree that climate change exists, we can’t work together to improve our situation.

Courtesy: Vogue

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga took the stage to sing her Best Original Song “Til it Happens to You.” She wrote this song to be featured in the locally contested documentary The Hunting Ground which President Thrasher declared has many unsupported claims.  Regardless of allegations of distorted media bias and omissions, The Hunting Ground undertook a justified and appreciated endeavor of shoving the issue of sexual assault on campuses further into the public’s attention.

This song has become an anthem for survivors of sexual assaults in all forms. Gaga was joined by 50 survivors on stage with varying phrases written on their arms including “NOT YOUR FAULT,”“UNBREAKABLE”and “SURVIVOR." Gaga’s performance aimed to not only provide a shoulder of support to survivors, but also to aim at breaking the pattern. More than one in five women suffer sexual attacks every year. With more attention and education, this cycle can be broken.

Courtesy: Tom Antos Films

Racism, climate change and sexual assault are not new issues. They are, unfortunately, very common issues, but they are often swept under the rug. Many people would like to keep their fanciful ideas of the world; however, this does not ignite change. Awareness ignites change. Solidarity ignites change. Action ignites change. What was said during the Oscars helps to ignite that change, and we are beyond thankful that these stars are using their platforms to help further the process.