Celebrity Voices begin to Come Together on the #1 Issue of the Day
During a Golden Globes ceremony that had no shortage of politically charged dialogue, actor Joaquin Phoenix delivered one of the most memorable acceptance speeches of the evening. After winning the Best Actor in Drama Motion Picture award for his titular role in Todd Phillips’ “Joker,” Phoenix diffidently took to the stage and, before even expressing any obligatory thank yous, he first applauded the event’s efforts to be plant based. He then went on to condemn Hollywood’s egregious carbon footprint, urging his fellow stars to live up to their rhetoric and make tangible changes in their lives for the good of the planet.
Since Phoenix gave this unconventional speech on January 5th, there has been a lot of debate surrounding celebrity activism. Fueled also in part by 77th Golden Globes host Ricky Gervais’ opening monologue where he accused movie stars of hypocrisy, some are questioning weather celebrities actually do their part to combat climate change when the cameras aren’t rolling.
It has been argued, by the Extinction Rebellion (XR) and others that charges of celebrity hypocricy leveled at any who dare to speak up, encourages others to stay silent, thus achieving the opposite of what the climate, and the world actually needs. And cries of “stay in your lane” or “stick to entertaining” and even celebrities lobbing insults at each other, is precisely what the fossil fuel industrial complex needs to keep the movement to raise awareness of the climate crisis from gaining a larger following.
While we can’t speak for all of the winners who addressed the climate crisis in their acceptance speeches, Joaquin Phoenix recently showed concrete solidarity with the ideals he preaches, by getting arrested at a climate action rally in Washington DC.
Jane Fonda’s Leadership continues to Inspire and Energize
The climate rally was held on Friday, January 9th, just four days after the Globes. It was the last in a series of DC rallies led by actress-turned-activist Jane Fonda. Inspired by Greta Thunberg’s environmental campaigns, Fonda has been hosting weekly events, known as Fire Drill Fridays, on Capitol Hill since mid-October.
Fonda has used her own celebrity status and that of her friends to garner attention for the cause. At the final rally, both Joaquin Phoenix and fellow actor Martin Sheen also attended, and they each gave speeches to the crowd. Sheen expressed his admiration for Fonda among other female activists and then read “Where The Mind Is Without Fear,” a modernist poem by Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore.
When Phoenix spoke to the audience, his speech echoed that of his from the Globes. He pressed people to make changes in their individual livelihoods and particularly talked about consumption, once again championing plant based diets as the easiest and most effective way a single person can lower his or her carbon output.
As the rally escalated, the Capitol Police soon issued a warning for the protestors to vacate the Capitol Building’s steps or risk prosecution. When the protestors did not comply, the Police arrested 147 of the participants—both Phoenix and Sheen among them. The arrestees were charged with crowding and obstructing before being released.
Due to an increasing number of previous arrests, Fonda has been careful not to end up in handcuffs again herself. Nevertheless, she expressed her appreciation and unity with those willing to get a criminal record for Fire Drill Fridays’ goals. Fonda is now returning to Los Angeles to film the final season of Netflix’s “Grace and Frankie,” so she will not be seen in the capitol as consistently. Nevertheless, she is likely to continue her activism wherever she goes.
Expect More Celebs to Join and Repeat
As for Phoenix and Sheen, neither have announced any future Hollywood projects just yet—with the exception of a rumored “Joker 2” for Phoenix. Sheen will be appearing in the upcoming “The Adventures of Theo Star” and “12 Mighty Orphans” while Phoenix will be in “C’mon C’mon” later this year. However, all of these films are already in post-production. Therefore, the actors have seemingly free schedules, so we can likely expect to see them at more rallies and events in the future.
Phoenix’s arrest is a testament to the honesty behind his Golden Globes acceptance speech. While cries of celebrity hypocrisy may rise among perma-critics and those that carry water for the fossil fuel companies, Phoenix (and Sheen) are show their true colors and the willingness to put themselves on the front line for environmental justice. For that, they, along with Fonda, Sam Waterston and others can be seen as genuine role models and deserve commendation.