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Oscars Not So White

If you neglected to watch the Academy Awards this past Sunday night, it’s ok we forgive you. After all, you surely saw it play out on social media. With the exception of a accused sexual assaulter winning the Best Actor Oscar, this year’s award ceremony was the best I have ever witnessed. It didn’t take long after the ceremony began for the first Trump joke from host Jimmy Kimmel. 

“This broadcast is being watched live by millions of Americans and around the world in more than 225 countries that now hate us,”Kimmel said. 

Kimmel went on to say, “I don’t want to get too serious, but there are millions and millions of people watching right now, and if each and every one of you took a minute to reach out to one person you disagree with, someone you like, and have a positive, considerate conversation, not as liberals or conservatives, as Americans. If we would all do that we could make America great again — we really could. It starts with us.”

The first award of the night was Best Supporting Actor and it went to actor Marhershala Ali for his role in Moonlight. This makes Ali the first Muslim-American to win an Oscar which is significant in this era of our country of Islamophobia and the Muslim ban. 


The entire show itself seemed like one big subtweet to the current administration. Comments were made by Jimmy Kimmel throughout the night, including an actual tweet to Trump reading, “Hey @realDonaldTrump u up?” in anticipation of a tweet storm from the leader of the free world. The Iranian director of the winning Best Foreign Language Film was absent in solidarity with those citizens of his home country and the others which were included in Trump’s travel ban. 

The filmmaker sent a note that read, ”I’m sorry I’m not with you tonight. My absence is out of respect for the people of my country and those from other six nations who have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the U.S. Dividing the world into the U.S. and our enemies categories creates fear—a deceitful justification for aggression and war.” 

   Later, while presenting the Oscar for Best Animated Feature, actor Gael Garcia Bernal stated, “As a Mexican, as a human being, I am against any wall that wants to separate us.” 

    Viola Davis went on to win her first Oscar as Best Supporting Actress for her performance in August Wilson’s Fences.

Davis, along with Hamilton creator and Moana songwriter Lin-Manuel Miranda are now both one award away from attaining EGOT status. Miranda himself performed a rap intro to the song he wrote for Disney’s Moana sung by 16-year-old Auli’i Cravalho, the voice of Moana. Cravalho is of Filipino, Chinese, Irish, Native Hawaiian, Portuguese, and Puerto Rican descent and is a spitting image of her character in the hit movie. 

 Hidden Figures, a movie about three African-American women who worked at NASA during the Space Race and made significant contributions to the mission. It was the highest grossing Best Picture Nominee this year. Moonlight, which tells the story of Chiron, a young, black, gay man, in three parts of his life, won Best Adapted Screenplay. 

Barry Jenkins, the director of the film said in his acceptance speech,“For all you people out there who feel like there’s no mirror for you, that your life is not reflected, the Academy has your back, […] the ACLU has your back. We have your back. And for the next four years, we won’t leave you alone. We will not forget you.” 

When it came time for Best Actor, winner of last year’s Best Actress award for her performance as a rape victim in Room and sexual assault activist Brie Larson, came out to announce the winner. After reading Casey Affleck’s name, Larson barely had a reaction and refused to clap as she stood to the side. Many people on social media pointed this out and announced they were with her. The younger brother of two-times Oscar winner Ben Affleck has been accused of sexual assault by two different female filmmakers who have previously worked with him. 

 Then it came time for the biggest and most anticipated award of the night, Best Picture. Director Warren Beatty approached the microphone with Faye Dunaway. Beatty opened the envelope, very confused and looking around for what seemed like hours until finally, Dunaway declared “La La Land” as the winner. The cast and crew of the musical began to approach the stage and recite their acceptances speeches when members of the award show production crew began to come out on stage. 

There was much confusion and chaos until executive producer Jordan Horowitz went up to the mic and said, “There’s a mistake. “Moonlight,” you guys won the best picture.” 

The cast and crew of the landmark film began to stand up in shock and walk up to the front. 

“I want to tell you what happened. I opened the envelope and it said, “Emma Stone, ‘La La Land.’” That’s why I took such a long look at Faye, and at you. I wasn’t trying to be funny,” said Beatty. 

The flub has been called the biggest in Oscar history and well soon not be forgotten. 

Adele Romanski, producer of Moonlight stated in her acceptance speech, “I hope even more than that, that it’s inspiring to people — little black boys and brown girls and other folks watching at home who feel marginalized and who take some inspiration from seeing this beautiful group of artists, helmed by this amazing talent, my friend Barry Jenkins, standing up here on this stage accepting this top honor.” 

The fact that in Trump’s America and in an atmosphere of hateful rhetoric against marginalized groups, a film about a gay, black man has won Best Picture. It is so important for us to take this into account and have this to hold onto for the next four years. It shows that we have and will not give up, that the struggle will continue, but we will have each other through it all.

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