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Should award ceremonies be less political?

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Award shows have always been political. However, with our current, controversial president, politics in award ceremonies have become increasingly prominent. Recent movements and statements made by his administration has resulted in changes in celebrities’ attire, comedy, and speeches. This reality brings forth the question of whether these award shows should be less political and if so, what is the alternative?

Award ceremonies are inherently used for a good purpose, which is to celebrate the outstanding work of our entertainers and artists. Through the years, these events have transcended their purpose, and have become a stage for increasing the political and social awareness of its attendees and audience. The celebrities who have transformed it into such a platform have used it to bring messages on empathy, acceptance, strength, and more, which is as it should be. These prominent figures should use their fame into bettering society and these award ceremonies are a place to start, especially when millions nationwide are tuned in.

Despite their prominence, celebrities are just celebrities. Because of this, some believe that they have no authority to talk about politics in the manner that they do. For example, Oprah Winfrey’s speech for receiving the Cecil B. de Mille award at this year’s Golden Globes were ripe with her thoughts on women’s rights and freedom of speech. In this year’s Grammys, Janelle Monáe delivered a speech on the Time’s Up movement, which is a coalition to support victims of sexual assault abuse legally and financially. Monáe’s speech was a result of the piling sexual assault allegations on powerful men, which includes a man who sits in the oval office today. The topics celebrities cover in their speeches are not to push the “liberal agenda”, but it is to spread the ideas of equality, justice, and inclusiveness.

Although celebrities lack the authority to present these problems to the public, they have a right as American citizens to speak up against the corruption and inequality prevalent nationwide. Plus, if celebrities shouldn’t talk politics, what is Donald Trump, a reality television star, doing in the oval office ?

Even with the grandeur and heartfelt speeches boasting the speaker’s moral high ground, there is a sense of hypocrisy in these award ceremonies. In this year’s Golden Globes, the female attendees wore black to show their allegiance with the Time’s Up movement. However, when Kirk Douglas, a retired actor accused of rape, came up to present an award, he was given a standing ovation. It all seemed backwards. So instead of just talking about political issues and changing the color of their dress, celebrities aiming to talk politically should act and speak accordingly. Either they shouldn’t have given Douglas a standing ovation or they shouldn’t have worn black dresses to stand in solidarity with women who have been affected by sexual assault. Their previous action must match their current and future actions.

There is also an alternative to having such political award shows. Rather than publicizing political issues through speeches and ceremonies, these artists can utilize their medium to do so. By incorporating their messages and their take on contemporary political issues into their craft, more young people will be aware of these problems. Artists, such as the N.W.A, made politically drenched music in the late 1980s about the racism and disproportionate policing black people faced in America, which is still relevant today. There are also female artists, such as Kesha, who recently released the song “Praying”, symbolizing her journey back to the music industry after alleging her music producer with sexual abuse. Through art, these public figures can do more than just speak to an audience at an award show, they can evoke emotion and provoke action.

It is true that award ceremonies have become increasingly political, but it is also true that politics has become increasingly entertaining. Hollywood and politics are bleeding into one another, and award shows illustrate this. If these ceremonies did not talk about political issues as it did, that would be a lost opportunity to create a more politically aware society. And if these celebrities are wholeheartedly committed, they can move beyond the awards stage, and use their artistry and their privilege to incite real change.


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