Even as we see them more than ever before, the Oscars have a long history of political statements. Marlon Brando sending up a Native American woman to collect his award for Best Actor caused a stir in 1973, but they are now the norm at every entertainment industry gala. The tense political climate and recent developments in Hollywood have prompted stars to wear their political hearts on their sleeves in unprecedented fashion.
Last year’s Oscars were all about Trump. Host Jimmy Kimmel replicated his stance from his popular talk show on stage through a series of jokes and jabs at the controversial president. “This is being watched live by millions of people in 225 countries that now hate us” he opened, and the acceptance speeches followed his rhetoric with dedications to immigrants, and a notable absence from winner Asghar Farghadi, in protest of the travel ban.
The environment has only grown more fraught since. The #MeToo movement has found its greatest promotion and publicity from Hollywood itself, with the Harvey Weinstein scandal and a subsequent series of allegations rocking the industry. The Grammy’s, Golden Globes, and Oscars have all been marked with the majority of attendees wearing black in support of sexual harassment victims. Celebrities brought along activists for causes ranging from LGBT rights to the environment as their guests. Oprah even gave a speech at the Golden Globes which prompted endless online speculation of her presidential credentials.
The nominee list this year sets up an Oscars ceremony which may be the most political in history. Films like Get Out, a fascinating look at racism, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, about a mother seeking vengeance and justice for her brutally raped and murdered daughter, have already received nominations from the Academy. The recent school shooting in Florida and the continued tensions in America set up this year for potentially the most politically active yet.