Hollywood debates whether actors should use their platforms for activism

World Today

Hollywood is no longer just the place of movies and stardom. It’s increasingly become an arena for politics and activism. CGTN’s Phil Lavelle reports.

The big campaign in Hollywood this year is “Times Up.” The movement started after allegations of sexual impropriety by film producer Harvey Weinstein: one of Hollywood’s most powerful men.

It led to a self-enforced, black-only dress code at the Golden Globes, and an all-female presenting lineup at the Screen Actors Guild Awards.

“It’s about workplace harassment – people like Harvey Weinstein abusing power… it’s about representation, and I think that this is a moment where quality and engagement go hand-in-hand,” Chief Film Critic for Variety Peter Debruge said.

But do political movements like this underline the integrity of the Oscars, or distract from what the Oscars are about?

Stephen Verona is a Hollywood director and long time Academy member – one of the people who gets to pick the winners. He thinks these movements are a distraction. 

“I’m not going to say I’m a purist – there’s room for everything, but there’s a time and a place, and I don’t think bringing political views and getting on stage and not thanking but making their own speeches,” Verona said. “I don’t think that’s right. That’s not why they’re there. I think that’s what gets press though.”

But others believe there is some room for activism in Hollywood.

“I think the Oscars are still always going to be about the movies and the wonderful films that came out in the past year, but you have to remember that this is a stage where these people can speak to millions of people around the country, and around the world,” Rebecca Ford of the Hollywood Reporter said. “So they have a moment to really say something important, and I think in a really political time like the one we’re living in now, a lot of people want to take advantage of that opportunity.”

They almost certainly will again on March 4 for the 2018 Academy Awards: the biggest of all the awards ceremonies and the most watched globally. If ever there was a point to be made, that’s is the place to be heard.