By Gil Alon
Awards season has fallen during a time when the country is more politically divided than ever, and members of Hollywood should not use their nights of celebration to convey their own political beliefs.
At awards shows like the Grammys and Oscars, many celebrities use their acceptance speeches to express political beliefs and further their political agenda. Small protests during the awards shows– like when acceptance speeches are given or presenters express their political beliefs on controversial issues– usually occur repeatedly during the course of an award show.
The purpose of award shows is to celebrate artist’s accomplishments and the people who helped them earn the reward, but expressing their political ideologies adds unwanted and unnecessary layers of controversy.
Even if, like me, you agree with most of what the celebrities are saying, these political speeches don’t spark changes in policy, and just anger the supposed opponents.
At this year’s Oscars, Jimmy Kimmel, like many other comedians before him, managed to create an enjoyable night while also addressing the importance of politics. These comedians encourage unity and laugh about our differences rather than promoting alienation like the political speeches do.
The social power that Hollywood has is not derived from award shows but from its artistic work. The movies and songs that artists decide to write and express drive public opinion and brings awareness to real issues. For example, the movie Hidden Figures brought attention to the female African American mathematicians that were integral in the NASA space program much faster than the book the movie was based on ever did.
If celebrities and artists want to incite political change and action, they should consistently tap into their fan bases to inspire them to take action instead of making fruitless one-minute speeches. Thus, they are maintaining political action consistently, instead of just for show. However, an award show is a time of celebration and escape for viewers, and is the wrong time to cultivate political support.
After receiving an award, the speech should simply thank all the people that have contributed to the artist’s’ success.
As Paskin from Slate explains that politics seep into every cultural space and awards shows, in particular have become “a proxy battle between the left and the right.”
We can all agree that the arts are important and that they should be celebrated. Thus award shows should represent everyone coming together to celebrate these artists’ accomplishments.
Additionally, by focusing on best dressed lists and elaborate performances awards, shows allow us to escape out of the real world and into Hollywood for an evening. These award shows should be a part of the escapism that Hollywood was literally built on. There is a time and place for action, but award shows are simply not that time.