Joaquin Phoenix delivered powerful, spot-on speeches about systemic racism and the climate crisis after winning Best Actor at the BAFTAs and the Golden Globes, and after winning yet again at the Oscars on Sunday, he made it clear he was going to jump right in to something heavy.
"Stop guys," he muttered just after he took the stage. Here it was: A chance for him to shine, yet again, and partially redeem the fact that the sad clown movie won another award. He could've tackled gender inequality, or reiterated how disturbing it is that just one actor of color was nominated this year, but instead, he decided to talk about... artificial insemination?
"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," Phoenix said. "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. And then we take her milk that’s intended for her calf and put it in our coffee and our cereal. And I think we feel the idea of personal change is that we have to sacrifice something, to give something up, but human beings at our best are so inventive, and creative, and ingenious, that I think that we…. 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."
To be fair, Phoenix has a point here: We treat animals terribly, and factory farming is bleak as shit. He just got that point across in one of the most bizarre ways imaginable.
Still, good on you, Joaquin, for nodding toward the broader fight against injustice as a whole, and using your platform to at least say something of substance.
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This article originally appeared on VICE US.