In an awards ceremony filled with political messages, only one Oscar winner got it right
Everything else just felt hollow
by Amanda Ross
We all knew it was impossible for the Oscars to remain apolitical.
Before it aired, viewers geared up for the inevitable — some were angry over the anticipated anti-Trump undercurrent, some were excited for a large-scale drag of his policies, and some just remarked that they couldn’t watched the ceremony with their family because of the political division.
And they weren’t wrong. From the blue ACLU support ribbons pinned to nominee’s couture, to Kimmel’s at time tone-deaf bits, to almost every single acceptance speech, everything had a humanitarian spin. It’s certainly admirable to have so many powerful people using a captive audience to spread a message of tolerance, but one message from one attendee spoke louder than all the others — and he wasn’t even there to deliver it.
Iranian director Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar, tonight for The Salesman, but was not in attendance to collect it.
“My absence is out of respect for the people of my country, and those of the other six nations who have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the US,” his acceptance speech read, and it was instantly well-received.
Asghar Farhadi ✊? Didn't come in respect for those who are/were affected by the ban ?? Great statement #Oscars
— Kendrick Sampson (@kendrick38) February 27, 2017
His protest absence was powerful, and spoke volumes. So imagine if mainstream, beloved, A-list (read: mostly white) celebrities did the same thing.
Imagine an Oscars with no Ryan Gosling, no Meryl Streep, no Emma Stone. No late-night talk show host to give us something to make fun of, no gafs of flubs to turn into memes. Imagine a red carpet with no Michelle Williams to tell us who she’s wearing, with no Chrissy Teigan and John Legend to give us hashtag couple goals.
Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi's win for "The Salesman" showed that an empty seat can be just as powerful as a full one. #Oscars
— Upworthy (@Upworthy) February 27, 2017
The buzz would be everywhere, ratings would plummet as people tune out. Conversation, real conversation, would be sparked. Millions of dollars would be lost, hours of allotted time rendered useless. They would have hit everyone where it hurt: their wallets. In other words, it would have sent a serious message to the networks, to the people at home, and to the President.
The silence would be deafening.
It’s understandable that the industry would want to honor the best of the year, and that nominees would want to celebrate their artistry. But in times like these, it might be necessary to put pride — in work and in ourselves — aside and do whatever it takes to send a serious message.
Amazing act of solidarity by Best Foreign Language Film winner Asghar Farhadi #Oscars
— PAPER Magazine (@papermagazine) February 27, 2017
So while it’s great to use the Oscar’s platform to talk about the issues the nation (and, by proxy, the world) faces, most of the people in that room aren’t even as fractionally affected as the people watching in their living rooms the world over.
Sometimes the best message is no message, and an empty chair speaks volumes.