2017 could be the Oscars' most political show

For decades, going to the movies has offered people today a two-hour escape from the day-to-day news cycle. But at the Academy Awards -- the pinnacle event in Hollywood -- winners on occasion have applied the platform to bring consideration to political issues....

2017 could be the Oscars' most political show

For decades, going to the movies has offered people today a two-hour escape from the day-to-day news cycle. But at the Academy Awards -- the pinnacle event in Hollywood -- winners on occasion have applied the platform to bring consideration to political issues.

ABC News film critic Peter Travers predicts this year will "be the most political year of the Academy Awards ever."

When did the Oscars turn out to be so political?

Hollywood insiders frequently point to the 1973 Oscars as the precursor to political speeches.

That year Marlon Brando asked Sacheen Littlefeather, the president of National Native American Affirmative Image Committee, to accept the finest actor Oscar on his behalf.

Littlefeather told the audience "that [Brando] very regretfully can not accept this quite generous award" because of "the therapy of American Indians nowadays by the film business" and "current happenings" at Wounded Knee Creek, on the Lakota Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Weeks ahead of the awards show, protesters at Wounded Knee referred to as for the resignation of tribal council president Richard Wilson, whom they accused of corruption, and for the U.S. government to reexamine treaties with Native Americans.

Her comments were met by applause and boos. She mentioned she hoped her speech would not "intrude" on the evening.

Just after Littlefeather's speech, "everybody at the time was wildly upset" since they felt politics and Hollywood need to be separate, Travers said.

In 1978 Vanessa Redgrave was nominated for ideal supporting actress for her role in "Julia," in which she played an anti-Nazi activist. Redgrave, an outspoken supporter of the Palestinians, had narrated and helped fund the documentary “The Palestinian” which supported a Palestinian state, according to The Linked Press.

When Redgrave stepped on stage to accept her award, she praised the Academy for its support.

"I salute you ... and I feel you should be incredibly proud that in the final handful of weeks you've stood firm, and you have refused to be intimated by the threats of a modest bunch of Zionist hoodlums," Redgrave said to the crowd as the Academy members booed.

With out pausing, Redgrave continued, "Whose behavior is an insult to the stature of Jews all more than the planet and to their good and heroic record of struggle against fascism and oppression."

"And I salute that record, and I salute all of you, for having stood firm and possessing dealt a final blow against that period when Nixon and McCarthy launched a worldwide witch-hunt," she mentioned, which was met with extra boos. "Against these who tried to express in their lives and their operate the truth that they believed in. I salute you and I thank you and I pledge to you that I will continue to fight against antisemitism and fascism."

When Redgrave was very first nominated, she was "opposed very aggressively by Jewish groups mainly because of her help of Palestinians," mentioned Akira Mizuta Lippit, vice dean of faculty at the University of Southern California's College of Cinematic Arts.

Supporters of the Jewish Defense League picketed outside the awards ceremony and burned an effigy of Redgrave.

"There was a massive protest," Lippit told ABC News. "And she spoke out against the protest and praised the Academy for moving forward with her nomination."

Travers said Redgrave "referred to as it as she saw it ... she referred to as people 'hoodlums' -- she was angry, there were protesters outside" and she resented that they have been carrying placards against her due to the fact of her position on Palestinians.

But "there was tremendous backlash at the time for her obtaining something political to say," Travers mentioned.

Lippit stated Redgrave faced so a great deal backlash after that speech for the reason that her fellow Academy members thought it was "inappropriate to take a political stance at a ceremonial occasion like this."

But "in several strategies [it] served as a catalyst because it seriously opened up the question ... what are the limits?" he added.

Director Elia Kazan was provided an honorary Academy Award in 1999, decades just after his involvement with The Residence Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) -- a group in the 1950s that investigated Americans suspected of possessing Communist ties.

If an actor or writer proffered names of people today who have been involved in "leftist, socialist activities," Lippit explained, that particular person "would be permitted to continue and resume" their career. If somebody refused, that person could come to be blacklisted from Hollywood. A lot of, like Kazan, likely supplied names to protect themselves, Lippit stated.

Kazan in no way apologized for his actions and "became a pariah for numerous persons," Lippit stated. The honorary Academy Award "was a massive debate" that "really divided the community."

Some, like Warren Beatty, have been supportive, Lippit stated, and "felt [Kazan] must be recognized for the perform he accomplished as a director." Other people, on the other hand, felt that "you could not forgive a man who had betrayed other individuals in the profession in order to save himself."

Lippit stated Kagan's situation presented an interesting dilemma in Hollywood.

"It truly raises the query: if a single can completely quarantine politics from entertainment and whether or not that is even a valid query. Is entertainment, as we define it, something that demands to be kept strictly segregated from the social, political planet ... when in reality entertainment reflects in many situations the planet that we live in, or the globe that we have lived in," he explained.

The trend of political speeches continued by way of the years. Halle Berry proclaimed her best actress win symbolically opened the "door for other African American actresses in the industry" whilst Michael Moore focused his 2003 Oscar speech on bashing President George W. Bush and the Iraq War.

In 2009, when Dustin Lance Black won ideal original screenplay for "Milk," he stated the story of gay rights activist Harvey Milk gave him hope as a teen.

"If Harvey had not been taken from us 30 years ago," Black mentioned in his speech, "I believe he'd want me to say to all of the gay and lesbian little ones out there tonight who have been told that they are less than by their churches, or by the government, or by their families, that you are lovely, wonderful creatures of value. And that no matter what any individual tells you God does enjoy you, and that pretty quickly, I promise you, you will have equal rights federally across this terrific nation of ours."

Extra lately climate alter has come to be a hot subject at the Oscars.

Finest actor winner Leonardo DiCaprio pleaded for action on climate alter in his 2015 speech.

"Producing 'The Revenant' was about man's connection to the organic world -- a planet we collectively felt in 2015 as the hottest year in recorded history. Our production needed to move to the southern tip of this planet just to be capable to locate snow," DiCaprio mentioned. "Climate modify is actual. ... Let us not take this planet for granted, I do not take tonight for granted."

This year, Travers predicted Mahershala Ali, who is Muslim, will get political if he wins for finest supporting actor.

And he may possibly not be the only one. If Viola Davis nabs an Oscar for her efficiency in "Fences," she "is not going to mince words about what is going on in her head," noted Travers.

Moreover, Travers believes this year will "be the most political year of the Academy Awards ever" for two motives: the Trump administration and the #OscarsSoWhite backlash from 2015.

At the Golden Globes in January, Meryl Streep, in her acceptance speech for the Cecil B. DeMille Award, went on the attack against Trump, calling him out (even though not by name) for his treatment of a disabled reporter and the press.

Trump later responded by tweeting that Streep was "over-rated" and a "flunky" of Hillary Clinton.

Travers stated the criticism of Trump by Hollywood wasn't "name calling."

"They all look to have an agenda," he mentioned.

Apart from tension with Trump, Travers mentioned the Academy is "dealing with their personal two-year criticism for not recognizing minorities in any of those major awards."

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Cheryl Boone Isaacs addressed the criticism by producing modifications to membership policies, which would, she hoped, generate a lot more possibilities for minorities.

Ted Johnson, senior editor at Selection, mentioned these speeches can eventually launch different initiatives.

"Presidential administrations are conscious of the potential of the Oscars to be a platform," he told ABC News in an e mail. "Joe Biden introduced Lady Gaga at least year's Oscars as a way to highlight the difficulty of sexual assault on college campuses. Ronald Reagan addressed the ceremony by video in 1981, and Franklin Roosevelt addressed the Oscars in 1941."

He also gave the example of Patricia Arquette, who won an Oscar in 2015 for "Boyhood." The publicity following her speech on equal pay for females encouraged 1 California lawmaker to introduce equal spend legislation in the state. It passed later that year, Johnson noted.

According to Lippit, these speeches "will only have an indirect impact -- on climate modify policy, for example -- but they do at times have a important effect on public opinion, which can lead to policy alterations."

With one hundred million people watching, Travers mentioned, "Would anybody give up the opportunity to get one thing off their chest? I don't believe so."

ABC News' Morgan Korn, Jeff Costello, Lindsey Jacobson, Lesley Messer, Veronica Stracqualursi, Stephanie Ebbs and Stacy Chen contributed to this report.

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