Political Speech Galore but Not Much God at the Academy Awards

John Shearer/Invision/AP
John Shearer/Invision/AP

During the most political Academy Awards ceremony in years, an event filled with partial nudity, political statements, and a lot of farcical back patting, Hollywood’s elite once again gathered to secularly wrap up another year in film.

While the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences handed out a total of 24 awards during Sunday night’s events, by and large, both presenters and award winners generally used the platform to pursue political causes, and only one winner used his acceptance speech to share the success with a higher power.

As previously reported by Vocativ, of the 1,396 previous acceptance speeches currently archived on the academy’s website, up until Sunday, God had only been mentioned by winners a total of 19 times.

That has now changed, as rapper Common broke up the narcissistic monotony with a shout out to his creator after winning the Best Original Song award for his collaboration with John Legend on “Glory,” from the Selma soundtrack.

“First I would like to thank God, that lives in us all,” Common said.

That brief mention was the only notable showing of gratitude toward anyone outside of the industry (not including family members.)

While it was unlikely God would unseat director Steven Spielberg Sunday, (he has 42 mentions,) after Matthew McConaughey’s Oscar speech last year, it certainly felt as if anything was possible.

“First off I want to thank God, because that’s who I look up to. He’s graced my life with opportunities that I know are not of my hand or any other human hand,” the actor said in 2014, immediately following the win for Best Actor for his role in Dallas Buyers Club.

“He has shown me that it’s a scientific fact that gratitude reciprocates,” McConaughey continued. “In the words of the late (British actor) Charlie Laughton, who said, ‘When you got God you got a friend and that friend is you.'”

While faith certainly wasn’t a focal point for most attendees on Sunday, it is safe to say stars were busy championing other noble causes, including ALS, Alzheimer’s, civil rights, equal pay for women, and suicide prevention.

While some of those calls to action touched hearts and drew applause, it is likely a gutter-joke made by Sean Penn that will go down as this year’s most memorable moment, and it came at the end of the show.

As Penn presented the award for Best Picture to Alejandro González Iñárritu for Birdman, the liberal icon said, “Who gave this son of a bitch his green card?”

In a demonstration of the duality of Hollywood, Penn received a great deal of laughter for the quip, while last year, McConaughey was met with mostly silence.


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