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Oscars highlight Hollywood activism

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WEB EXCLUSIVE

The Oscars have always been regarded as a night of Hollywood glamour dedicated to the recognition of that year’s most influential films. More and more over the years, people at the Oscars–including nominees, presenters and even hosts–have used the platform to highlight and promote current political and social issues occurring in the United States and in the world of film. This year was no different.

There were various degrees of advocacy on Sunday night. Many stars donned orange American flag pins to advocate for Everytown and to promote gun safety. The night also featured political humor (provided by returning host Jimmy Kimmel and other celebrities) aimed at Donald Trump, Harvey Weinstein and Mike Pence.

While the advocacy that these actors demonstrated was very inspiring, I couldn’t help but wonder: Does any of it actually make a difference?

Will wearing a pin and cracking a joke start to repair the mess brewing in Hollywood, or bridge the great divide in American public opinion? Or will these small jabs at the flaws in Hollywood, and the divisiveness among Americans, slowly start to create real change, and show victims and those who are in the minority that they are being heard?

One such important issue in Hollywood is the inclusion of all ethnic and racial minorities in feature films. Creating a more diverse cast in movies may not seem like a pressing issue, but more than ever, it is important that minority audiences feel that they are represented in the media. This can provide role models for younger viewers, and create more job opportunities for minority actors. It is a win-win for the movie industry and for our country to more accurately depict the “melting pot” represented by Americans.

During her acceptance speech for Best Lead Actress in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Frances McDormand left the Oscars’ audience with two words: “Inclusion rider.” These two words quickly became the most googled words of the night, with celebrities and audiences wondering: What is an inclusion rider?

An inclusion rider is a clause that feature actors and actresses can ask to have inserted into their contracts, which requires that a certain number of diverse cast and crew be considered for the movie. The impact could be exponential if exercised by more actors and actresses, and certainly by those most in demand by movie studios.

My hope for the future of the Oscars–and for the future of Hollywood as a whole–is that actresses and actors continue to speak out for all of those who are not given a platform, continue to inspire change. Hollywood should strive to be a place where all people are welcomed and celebrated.

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Oscars highlight Hollywood activism