Joaquin Phoenix called out the entertainment industry for its "systemic racism" while accepting a BAFTA for Best Leading Actor. Phoenix's portrayal of Arthur Fleck in Todd Phillips' Joker has earned him a lot of attention and he has already won numerous awards, each time making an effort to speak about issues that are important to him. Some people have branded the actor as "woke" and see it as pandering, while others are impressed and inspired by his actions to buck the system.
Since accepting his BAFTA award for Joker last night, Joaquin Phoenix has been showered with praise from many in the entertainment industry. Additionally, his short speech has some worrying that he might not get the Academy Award for being too outspoken. Whatever the case may be, Phoenix has definitely heard the criticisms about Joker and it's "white male rage." He had this to say during his speech.
"The BAFTAs have always been very supportive of my career and I'm deeply appreciative, but I have to say that I also feel conflicted, because so many of my fellow actors that are deserving don't have that same privilege. I think that we send a very clear message to people of color that you're not welcome here. I think that's the message that we're sending to people that have contributed so much to our medium and our industry and in ways that we benefit from. I don't think anybody wants a handout or preferential treatment, although that's what we give ourselves every year. I think that people just want to be acknowledged and appreciated and respected for their work."
Joker and the other major movies this awards season have been called out for their lack of diversity. Unfortunately, this is nothing new, and it continues to go on. While Joaquin Phoenix has been given praise for his viewpoints on the matter, Stephen King was slammed for taking another approach on social media, which just goes to show how sensitive the topic is. You can read the rest of Phoenix's speech below.
"This is not a self-righteous condemnation, because I'm ashamed to say that I'm part of the problem. I have not done everything in my power to ensure that the sets that I work on are inclusive. But I think it's more than just having sets that are multi-cultural. I think we have to do the hard work to truly understand systemic racism. I think that it is the obligation of the people that have created and perpetuate and benefit from a system of oppression to be the ones that dismantle it, so that's on us."
The lack of diversity at the BAFTAS was not just highlighted by Joaquin Phoenix. Actress Rebel Wilson and host Graham Norton also took aim at it as "BAFTAS So White" began trending on social media. Norton specifically put Joker in his crosshairs, joking that the face paint made the white man even whiter. Jokes aside, Phoenix's speech hit the nail on the head for how many are currently feeling.
Instead of doing interviews during the day leading up to the awards ceremony, Joaquin Phoenix joined protesters on Tower Bridge calling for a meat-free world. The 45-year old actor is vegan and has made sure to make that aspect of his life a part of his message. And thanks to the success of Joker, Phoenix has a much louder voice. What will he say if he gets his first Academy Award next Sunday? You can watch Phoenix accept his BAFTA below, thanks to the BBC YouTube channel.