Last night’s 88th Academy Awards ceremony has been generating buzz for months now for two primary reasons: the lack of diversity among nominees launched a conversation about race and white privilege in Hollywood, and fans all over the internet have been full of excitement for Leonardo DiCaprio’s opportunity (and victory) in finally securing the coveted Best Actor award that many feel he has deserved for decades now. The racial controversy was heavily addressed and the show brought even more issues to the conversation, such as climate change on which DiCaprio gave a riveting speech upon receiving his award, and sexual assault.
It should be no surprise that sexual assault would be a topic of discussion at last night’s Oscars since many of the nominated films touch on the topic including Spotlight starring Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams which took Best Picture last night, and Room for which Brie Larson took home the Best Actress award. These films, alongside DiCaprio’s Revenant, dominated the awards and both are incredible films for spreading Sexual Assault awareness.
Spotlight is a star-powered film about the Boston Globe’s exposure of child sexual abuse in the Catholic church, and producer Micheal Sugar used his acceptance speech as an opportunity to implore Pope Francis to make this issue a priority. “This film gave a voice to survivors, and this Oscar amplifies that voice, which we hope will become a choir that will resonate all the way to the Vatican,” he said. The cast and crew of this film have been advocating for the film’s cause since their involvement began, attending protests and speaking publicly on the subject. Hours before the ceremony, star Mark Ruffalo attended a protest against sexual abuse by priests in the Catholic Church and was quoted saying: “I’m here to stand with the survivors and the victims and the people we’ve lost from Catholic priest childhood sex abuse.”
Brie Larson’s character in Room, the role for which she won the high honor of Best Actress, is depicted in the film as an abuse and sexual assault survivor, and she was thanked and congratulated off-stage by a group of around 50 sexual assault survivors, each of whom she shared a passionate hug with.
But the winners tonight were not the only ones honoring sexual assault victims. The aforementioned crew of 50 sexual assault survivors were present as a part of Lady Gaga’s heart wrenching performance of her nominated song about sexual assault ‘Til It Happens to You,’ written for the documentary The Hunting Ground. The survivors joined her on stage during the performance with inspirational phrases written prominently on their arms, prompting a tearful reaction from the crowd.
Vice President Joe Biden also showed his support for sexual assault survivors as he introduced Lady Gaga’s performance. He took the stage asking for action and support from all those present and watching at home: “Despite significant progress over the last few year, too many women and men, on and off college campuses, are still victims of sexual abuse and tonight I am asking you to join million of Americans including me, President Obama, the thousands of students I’ve met on college campuses and the artists here tonight to take the pledge. A pledge that says: ‘I will intervene in situations when consent has not or has not been given.’ Let’s change the culture. We must and we can change the culture so that no abused woman or man, like the survivors you will see tonight, ever feel they ever have to ask themselves ‘what did i do?’ They did nothing wrong. I really mean this, take the pledge. Visit itsonus.org.”
For information on our sexual abuse treatment and prevention resources, please visit our website.