Did you watch last night’s Oscars? According to Twitter, you did. This one was a bit different than years past. Though the winners often speak about causes — as Patricia Arquette did last year when she spoke about equality for women — this time around there was a lot more of it.
It might be partially because they were given an opportunity to have their “thank you”s scrolled across the screen, potentially averting divorce when the winner fails to thank a spouse. Leonardo DiCaprio talked about climate change and host Chris Rock hammered home how very, very white the audience was and the lack of diversity in the nominees.
Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy accepted the Oscar for Best Documentary (Short Subject) for her film “A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness,” about honor killings in Pakistan. She told the audience the film is helping to change the laws in the country. Vice President Joe Biden gave a moving speech about no longer tolerating sexual assault, and Lady Gaga gave an incredible performance of her song “Till It Happens to You,” from the documentary “The Hunting Ground.”
To be honest, I usually can’t stand awards shows. I’m stuck watching them because of my job. It’s all a bit self-congratulatory and, for the most part, boring. This time, though, it meant something to me. Seeing the group of sexual assault survivors with things like “Not Your Fault” and “Survivor” on their arms and listening to Gaga sing her heart out (she recently discussed her own experience with sexual assault) may have done more for awareness than any 20 speeches about it anywhere else. Hearing Obaid-Chinoy talk about what a difference a film can make reminded the world that sometimes Hollywood can do good things for the world.
It was heartening after months of writing about whitewashing casts and the gender disparity in terms of pay. Who cares who won or lost? It got people talking, and that’s more important than any award.