Last Sunday, the most important & exciting award ceremony of the year took place in LA, California: the Oscars. So, what did we learn from this 90th Academy Award edition – apart from the fact that ‘The Shape of Water’ was the biggest winner of the night? That this year’s ceremony wasn’t just about celebrating the motion picture masterpieces, it was also about claiming awareness around social & political issues. And it’s not the first award ceremony of that kind this year. It seems that it has become a recurring affair lately, that high-profile ceremonies are used for putting not only people but also social & political issues in the spotlight.
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Orange is the new black
And what better way to do so, than by already making a statement on the red carpet? Because it’s a fact, the red carpet is thé best place to catch global attention. This year, it wasn’t specifically about WHO you were wearing, but WHAT you were wearing. At the Golden Globes and Baftas, the red carpet turned black, while the Grammy’s and BRIT Awards were marked by white roses pinned to the finest & most expensive (again black) dresses and tuxedos. Last week, we could say that orange was the new black. All for a reason: making a statement with a dress code.
While the black-dress code at the Golden Globes and Baftas was all about making a point about sexual abuse in the film industry (following the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements), the white roses at the Grammy’s & BRIT Awards were in support of gender equality. At the Oscars however, orange pins & ribbons were the must-have accessory. The pins – supporting advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety – want to raise awareness around legal gun ownership after the bloodbath in Florida last month, where a 19-year-old killed 17 teenagers at his old school.
Speech is power
One could say that this makes the red-carpet celebrities kind of influencers, not only off stage, but also on stage. Think about winning actress Frances McDormand making a powerful speech when she accepted her award and inviting all female nominees to stand up in solidarity.
Not to mention Oprah’s astonishing speech at the Golden Globes, which even resulted in her being named as candidate for becoming the next president of the United States.
So, 5 major events, 3 major social issues, 100+ celebrities making a statement, reaching billions of people. Purpose achieved? I think so, because we can all agree these events have triggered the discussion about these issues even more, not only amongst friends and family, but also at higher political levels. Proof-point: as from today, the parliament of Florida has approved a new gun policy, where the minimum age to purchase any firearm has now been raised from 18 to 21.
Thinking of NextGen, a generation that’s dreaming of creating a better society, a better world, these kinds of initiatives are exactly what they are supporting as well: putting social issues in the spotlight to make sure something happens. This generation is on a personal quest for meaningful lives. That is why these kinds of big initiatives are perfectly in line with their purpose-seeking behavior.
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And I don’t think we’ve seen the last of it. To say it in Annabella Sciorra’s words at last Sunday’s ceremony: “It’s nice to see you all again. This year, many spoke their truth and the journey ahead is long, but slowly a new path has emerged.”