The Academy Awards Brings the Noise


There was much sound and fury in and around the Academy Awards on Sunday night, but it is unclear if many of the production’s popular moments signified anything. There was much attention paid to Chris Pine’s tears, Benedict Cumberbatch’s flask, Neil Patrick Harris’ puns, and Sean Penn’s insensitivity, but there were many other moments where people grabbed the spotlight and made sure their voices were heard. Those are the moments to remember.
The evening’s first jolt of electricity came courtesy of Patricia Arquette, who spoke passionately about the need for income equality among men and women. During her acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actress, she extolled women across the United States to strive for what is right. “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 States of America!” The crowd erupted, most notably Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lopez.
While John Legend and Common’s rendition of Glory might be best known for the emotions it created throughout the theatre, the most striking part of the performance were the powerful emotions emanating from the stage. The two musicians, accompanied by a soulful choir and a picture of the Edmund Pettis Bridge, had an urgency and force about them that ensured everyone in the theatre and viewers across America felt their message about racial equality.
Director Graham Moore’s acceptance speech for Best Director turned deeply personal when he disclosed that he had attempted to commit suicide at the age of sixteen. He felt “weird” and “different” and that he “didn’t belong.” He went on to speak directly to those going through the same journey saying, “I'm standing here I would like this moment to be for that kid out there who feels she's weird or she's different or she doesn't fit in anywhere - yes, you do. I promise you do. Stay weird, stay different and when it's your turn, and you are standing on this stage, please pass the message on to the next person who comes along." He owned his moment and used it to support those who most needed it.
After Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu made his second trip to the stage, this time to collect Birdman’s Oscar for “Best Picture,” he took advantage of his unique platform to call for equality, respect, and change.  Iñarritu dedicated his Oscar to the people of Mexico who he implored to “build the country they deserve.” He also prayed for those “who are part of the latest generation of immigrants in this country… that they can be treated with the same dignity and respect of the ones who came before and built this incredible nation.” Instead of being bogged down by Sean Penn’s inappropriate and untimely joke, Iñarritu gave a speech that “shocked Mexico” and likely inspired people on both sides of the border.
It is easy to be cynical about the Academy Awards, thinking it’s all about vanity or that it is does not include women or minorities, but moments like these prove the are still those who demand to be heard. Please follow their lead. Download the EAGLE app and make yourself noticed with the same passion and energy shown last night.