Oscars And Trump: A Marriage Made In Hollywood

Feb 23, 2017

And the winner is...likely to go political in the thank you speech.
Credit Cliff / Flickr via Creative Commons

Of all the Academy Award predictions one could make this year, there's one sure bet:  that some winners will go political in their thank you speeches.  After all, it's a Hollywood tradition.

Marlon Brando did it.  Vanessa Redgrave, too.  And don't forget Michael Moore.  When the winners mount the stage at the Academy Awards to pick up their golden trophy, some of them don't hold back on matters other than thanking mom and dad and their agent.  This award season has had many examples of performers revealing their dismay with the current political situation in the U.S. You can expect more politics to surface during The Academy Awards this year, said GLT's Culture Maven, Shari Zeck.

"The Hollywood community tends to be a liberal community.  And they pride themselves, in general, they pat themselves on the back a lot for politics in their movies. Hollywood has this image of itself as the protectors of liberal ideas, and as creative people, they are the ones who are, in general, moving the world in a progressive way."

President Trump presents a particular challenge to Hollywood, noted Zeck. "First of all, Trump is a different kind of challenge to America than other conservatives that we've had in the office of the presidency, so there's that.  But it's also that he is a media person, that he is a TV star, a producer, and a voracious consumer of popular media. So his being such an avid consumer of the media, I think, has made people when the have the stage feel more emboldened to speak against him."

And it's perfectly appropriate to make a political statement during a thank you speech, Zeck said. But there is a risk of alienating their fans. Backlash is possible, but so is something else.

"It can enhance how we look at somebody, as somehow more serious than we took them before.  For instance, Leonardo DiCaprio, who is someone I think is a pretty fine actor.  But he's still always kind of trying to prove himself as actually a good actor and not just a pretty face.  There's this sense about him in the roles he takes that he's always trying to demonstrate that he's the real deal. And when he won Best Actor last year, in the middle of his speech, he said something about the treatment of Native Americans in the area where the filmed The Revenant.  And I think that was him trying to say that he's a serious person. I'm not saying his political statement wasn't heartfelt, but that it's also part of a project to enhance how we view him."