Hollywood Activism

Vegan food, animal rights and diversity win at the Oscars

‘Parasite’, the genre-defying South Korean film about class warfare, made history at last night’s 92nd Academy Awards in Los Angeles, winning the award for best picture. It was the first foreign language film to win best picture and marked a milestone in the efforts of the Academy to address diversity.


There was outrage in 2015 and 2016 over the lack of non-white nominees in the acting categories, with the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite trending both years. The president of the Academy at that time, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, released a letter where she laid out the mandate moving forward: ‘inclusion in all of its facets: gender, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation’.

That mandate may finally be picking up momentum. Bong Joon Ho, the director of ‘Parasite’ won for best directing, Taika Waititi, of Maori descent, won best adapted screenplay with ‘Jojo Rabbit’ and Hildur Guðnadóttir won the Oscar for best score in her work for ‘Joker’. She was the first woman to win the award since Anne Dudley’s 1997 ‘The Full Monty’.

In her acceptance speech, Gudnadottir said:

‘To the girls, to the women, to the mothers, to the daughters who hear the music bubbling within – please speak up, we need to hear your voices.’

Taika Waititi dedicated his award to ‘all the indigenous kids in the world who want to do art and dance and write stories. We are original storytellers and we can make it here as well.’

Following in the footsteps of the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards, the food served around the award celebration was primarily plant-based.

The Oscar Nominees Luncheon at the end of January was entirely plant-based, as was all the food served in the lobby at the awards ceremony. The after party menu was 70% vegan with a mix of vegetarian, meat and fish dishes making up the other 30%.

Joaquin Phoenix shared a picture by Greg Williams on his Instagram showing him and actress Rooney Mara enjoying Monty’s vegan burgers.


Finding commonality

Joaquin Phoenix won an Oscar for best actor for his performance in Joker. His impassioned speech, in which he highlights our commonality as we stand against injustice and our need to reconnect to the natural world, is below in full:

‘I’m full of so much gratitude now. I do not feel elevated above any of my fellow nominees or anyone in this room, because we share the same love – that’s the love of film. And this form of expression has given me the most extraordinary life. I don’t know where I’d be without it.

But I think the greatest gift that it’s given me, and many people in [this industry] is the opportunity to use our voice for the voiceless. I’ve been thinking about some of the distressing issues that we’ve been facing collectively.

I think at times we feel or are made to feel that we champion different causes. But for me, I see commonality. I think, whether we’re talking about gender inequality or racism or queer rights or indigenous rights or animal rights, we’re talking about the fight against injustice.

We’re talking about the fight against the belief that one nation, one people, one race, one gender, one species, has the right to dominate, use and control another with impunity.

I think we’ve become very disconnected from the natural world. Many of us are guilty of an egocentric world view, and we believe that we’re the centre of the universe. We go into the natural world and we plunder it for its resources. We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow and steal her baby, even though her cries of anguish are unmistakeable. Then we take her milk that’s intended for her calf and we put it in our coffee and our cereal.

We fear the idea of personal change, because we think we need to sacrifice something; to give something up. But human beings at our best are so creative and inventive, and we can create, develop and implement systems of change that are beneficial to all sentient beings and the environment.

I have been a scoundrel all my life, I’ve been selfish. I’ve been cruel at times, hard to work with, and I’m grateful that so many of you in this room have given me a second chance. I think that’s when we’re at our best: when we support each other. Not when we cancel each other out for our past mistakes, but when we help each other to grow. When we educate each other; when we guide each other to redemption.

When he was 17, my brother [River] wrote this lyric. He said: ‘run to the rescue with love and peace will follow.’’

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