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Oscars 2020: Joaquin Phoenix speech in full


Story by Jack Foley

AS WIDELY predicted, Joaquin Phoenix was named best actor at the Oscars for his stunning portrayal of Batman villain Joker in Todd Phillips’ film.

The film itself is notable for framing a cautionary tale about mental health within the single most watched film genre of the moment, while also remaining true to Batman folklore.

Phoenix has swept the awards season with recognition for his portrayal of the notorious comic book villain, taking home the Golden Globe, SAG Award and the BAFTA. And he has increasingly used his victories to tackle issues that are close to him.

Only last week, he won widespread praise for his speech at the BAFTAs, in which he called out systemic racism within his industry.

On Oscars night, he received a standing ovation from the audience and even teared up toward the end when he spoke about a lyric his brother wrote.

Here is his powerful speech in full…

“[We have to] continue to use our voice for the voiceless. I’ve been thinking a lot about some of the distressing issues that we are facing collectively. I think at times we feel, or were 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 or one species has the right to dominate, control and use and exploit another with impunity.

I think that we’ve become very disconnected from the natural world, and many of us, what we’re guilty of is an egocentric worldview — the belief that we’re the center 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 when she gives birth, we steal her baby, even though her cries of anguish are unmistakable. Then, we take her milk, that’s intended for her calf, and we put it in our coffee and our cereal, and I think we fear the idea of personal change because we think that we have to sacrifice something to give something up. But human beings, at our best, are so inventive and creative and ingenious, and I think that when we use love and compassion as our guiding principles, we can create, develop and implement systems of change that are beneficial to all sentient beings and to the environment.

Now, I have been a scoundrel in my life. I’ve been selfish. I’ve been cruel at times, hard to work with and ungrateful, but so many of you in this room have given me a second chance. And I think that’s when we’re at our best, when we support each other, not when we cancel each other out for past mistakes, but when we help each other to grow, when we educate each other, when we guide each other toward redemption. That is the best of community.

When he was 17, my brother wrote this lyric. It said, ‘Run to the rescue with love, and peace will follow.’”

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