People are empowered by their lack of power. Malcolm Gladwell

The 10 Most Political Moments at this year's Academy Awards

Including Feminist Fashion Statements™, a moving speech on race, and an invitation to be weird.

1. Host Neil Patrick Harris giving a nod to #OscarsSoWhite in his opening number

“Tonight, we honor the best and the whitest – er, brightest.”

Let’s hope for more diverse Oscars in 2016. There are a lot of stories worth telling, not only those of white men.

2. John Legend and Common nailing it with their speech on race…

“Selma” was snubbed, but at least its soundtrack won: John Legend and Common received the Best Song Award for “Glory” and didn’t hold back in the accompanying speech.

Common began by stating:

“Recently John and I went to Selma and got to perform “Glory” on the same bridge that Doctor King and the people of the Civil Rights movement marched on 50 years ago. This bridge was once the landmark of a divided nation, but now it’s a symbol for change. The spirit of this bridge transcends race, gender, religion, sexual orientation and social status.”

And John Legend continued:

“Nina Simone said it’s an artist’s duty to reflect the times in which we live. We wrote this song for a film that is based on an event that happened 50 years ago. But we say that Selma is now, because the struggle for justice is right now. We know that the voting rights that they fought for 50 years ago are compromised right now in this country today. We know right now that the struggle for justice and freedom is real. (…) There are more black men under correctional control than there were under slavery in 1850. When people are marching with our song, we want to tell you we see you, we love you and march on.”

3. …and moving everyone to tears with their “Glory” performance.

Especially Chris Pine and David Oyelowo.

4. Steve Carell using the show for feminist fashion statements

Emma Watson, ambassador for the UN Women’s campaign “HeForShe”, was very pleased by the actor’s commitment to the feminist cause:


5. Patricia Arquette’s angry demand for equal pay

The Best Supporting Actress (“Boyhood”) used her acceptance speech to set the record straight:

“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 Stated of America.”

She really should have stopped here, but in the pressroom she told reporters some strange things:

“It’s time for all the women in America, and all the men that love women and all the gay people and all the people of color that we’ve all fought for to fight for us now.”

As writer Roxane Gay rightly noted:



6. Eddie Redmayne shining a light on ALS

No need to dump a bucket of ice on his head to raise awareness for ALS: the Best Actor winner chose humble words to acknowledge his privelege and to dedicate his Oscar to Stephen Hawking, whose struggle with ALS he portrays in “The Theory of Everything”:

“Thank you. Thank you. I don’t think I’m capable of articulating quite how I feel right now. I’m fully aware that I am a lucky, lucky man. This Oscar belongs to all of those people around the world battling ALS. It belongs to one exceptional family – Stephen, Jane and the Hawking children.”

7. Julianne Moore acknowledging the work of her female colleagues

Finally, one of the greatest actresses of our time got the Academy’s golden approval (not that Julianne Moore needed it, but really, who doesn’t want an Oscar?). Moore used her appearance to stress that “Still Alice”, for which she won Best Actress, may tell an individual’s story, but it’s also the story of millions of people worldwide suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

“I’m thrilled that we were hopefully able to shine a light on Alzheimer’s disease. So many people with this disease feel isolated and marginalized. (…) People with Alzheimer’s deserve to be seen, so that we can find a cure.”

Also, Moore didn’t fail to mention the other contesters for Best Actress and the great work they have done. Furthermore, she joked about the age gap between her and her younger husband – let’s face it, while the pairing older man/younger woman is socially acceptable, the pairing older woman/younger man most often isn’t. Thanks to Julianne Moore for indirectly pointing that out.

8. Graham Moore asking people to “stay weird, stay different”

Graham Moore won Best Adapted Screenplay for “The Imitation Game”, a film about British pioneering computer scientist Alan Turing who was prosecuted for homosexual acts in 1952. Turing accepted treatment with oestregon injections – equaling “chemical castraction” – as an alternative to prison. Moore had a powerful, personal message for all those unsure of themselves and struggling with social expectations:

“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 now I would like for this moment to be for that kid out there who thinks she’s weird, or she’s different or she doesn’t fit anywhere: Yes, you do! I promise, you do. Stay weird, stay different.”

Still, over at “Slate”, June Thomas had a few pensive, relevant remarks on Moore’s speech, writing that

“I wish that Moore had drawn a clearer line between his comments about Turing—a man who was persecuted and prosecuted for his homosexuality—and his “it gets better” message to teens who are merely weird and different. For one thing, overemphasizing the connection between queer teens and suicide can be dangerous. But it’s also important to note that being gay simply isn’t the same as being a ‘geek’.”

9. The Edward Snowden film “Citizenfour” winning Best Documentary

Whistleblower Edward Snowden may not be welcome in the USA, but the documentary about him was very welcomed at the Oscars: Director Laura Poitras accepted the Best Documentary award for “Citizenfour” in presence of Edward Snowden’s girlfriend Lindsay Mills and investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald, who helped to analyze and publish Snowden’s material. Poitras, who is living in Berlin, said:

“The disclosures that Edward Snowden revealed don’t only expose a threat to our privacy but to our democracy itself. Thank you to Edward Snowden for his courage and for the many other whistleblowers.”


After the show, Snowden himself, currently residing in Moscow, released a statement:

“My hope is that this award will encourage more people to see the film and be inspired by its message that ordinary citizens, working together, can change the world.”

10. A joke on immigration not sounding so funny

When Sean Penn handed the Oscar for Best Picture (“Birdman”) to his longtime friend, Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu, he „honored“ him by shouting: „Who gave this son of a bitch a green card?“ While González Iñárritu obviously got the joke, a lot of other people didn’t:


Not only that, soon several people began to point out Penn’s violent past:


(“The Daily Beast” has the whole story).

At least Alejandro González Iñárritu turned the awkward moment into something positive on stage, by calling for a better Mexico and better treatment of immigrants in the USA:

“The ones who live in Mexico, I pray that we can find and build the government that we deserve. The ones that live in this country, who are just part of the latest generation of immigrants in this county, I just pray they can be treated with the same dignity and respect as the ones who came before and built this incredible immigrant nation.”

Read more in this column Julia Korbik: Fashionable feminism

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