Gender

Joaquin Phoenix, his powerful speech at the Oscars in full

Joaquin Phoenix, who won Best Actor at the 2020 Oscars, reminded us that we need to overcome our egocentric view of the world, and rather choose love and compassion towards others and the natural world.

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 room is the opportunity to use our voice for the voiceless. I’ve been thinking about some of the distressing issues that we’re 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, or one species has the right to dominate, use and control and exploit another with impunity.

Joaquin Phoenix's speech while he accepts the 2020 Oscar for best actor
Joaquin Phoenix accepts the 2020 Oscar for best actor onstage during the 92nd Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on 9 February 2020 in Hollywood, California © Kevin Winter/Getty Images

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 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.

We fear the idea of personal change, because we think we have to sacrifice something; to give something up. But human beings at our best are so inventive and creative and ingenious 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.

Read more: The Oscars will serve a plant-based menu, also thanks to Joaquin Phoenix

I’ve 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. That is the best of humanity.

When he was 17, my brother wrote this lyric. He said: “Run to the rescue with love and peace will follow”.

Joaquin Phoenix has delivered this speech while accepting the 2020 Oscar for best actor during the 92nd Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California, on 9 February 2020.
Featured image © Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Related articles
How coronavirus is laying social inequalities bare

The pandemic and its restrictions are affecting everyone, without exceptions. However factors like housing, income inequalities, gender, access to technology and working conditions are influencing how people experience the health crisis.

100 women who changed the world

Time magazine’s 100 Women of the Year project sheds light on influential women’s stories, from Amelia Earhart to Greta Thunberg. A selection of some of the greats for International Women’s Day.