Joaquin Phoenix won the Best Actor BAFTA & wants to dismantle systemic racism

Joaquin Phoenix attends the 2020 EE British Academy Film Awards on Sunday 2 February 2020

Joaquin Phoenix picked up yet another Best Actor award at last night’s BAFTAs. No surprise there, just as there are no surprises in any of the acting categories. As I’ve said before, Joaquin even seems to be playing the awards-season game this year, perhaps because he doesn’t want to be so grumpy, perhaps for other reasons. I theorized that Joaquin was leaning into the Bummer Oscar Campaign, wherein he uses the awards season to raise awareness of the issues he cares about deeply, like environmentalism, veganism, sustainability, etc. He’s made references to those issues at previous awards shows. But let me tell you… at the BAFTAs, Joaquin SNAPPED. And it wasn’t about veganism either. Bro snapped about white supremacy and racism in the film industry. He truly got up at the Royal Albert Hall and spoke about how it’s white people’s responsibility to dismantle the white power structures and white supremacy that infects everything. He told the audience:

“I 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 people just want to be acknowledged, appreciated and respected for their work.

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 I work on are inclusive, but I think it’s more than just having sets that are multicultural. We have to do the hard work to truly understand systemic racism. I think 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.”

[From Deadline]

I mean… on one side, Joaquin is winning awards for a movie which was exploitative of the “damaged white man” trope and how easily those damaged white men turn to violence (and are celebrated for it). On the other side, it’s a f–king starting point. I appreciate that he is properly ashamed of his lack of movement to ensure more diverse/inclusive films. I appreciate that he’s telling the white people in the audience “this is on US.” Here’s the video:

Meanwhile, here’s Joaquin Phoenix’s girlfriend/maybe-fiancee Rooney Mara in custom Givenchy. They didn’t walk the BAFTA red carpet together – they haven’t walked any red carpets “together,” but Rooney has always been there and they are very much together. At this point, I actually love the exquisite weirdness of Rooney’s style. This Givenchy is SO unsettling, but it works on her. And usually the “girlfriend of” a nominee isn’t going all out like this. Rooney doesn’t care. She wanted to look like this porcelain goth doll.

Guests arrive at the EE British Academy Film Awards 2020 at Royal Albert Hall

Photos courtesy of WENN and Backgrid.

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30 Responses to “Joaquin Phoenix won the Best Actor BAFTA & wants to dismantle systemic racism”

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  1. Lady Baden-Baden says:

    Rooney Mara looks amazing.

    And no shade from me for Joaquin. White men with power must become allies or we’re all f****d

  2. Cee says:

    And yet everyone is talking about Hollywood Golden boy Pitts mean spirited jokes about Harry and Megan and disrespecting his ex again. This is our America which is how we ended up with Donald Trump. So proud of Angie for being brave and dumping this idiot and she is smart to want to get out of Hollywood. It is a fake world.

  3. Thanks says:

    I’ve always wondered why it’s always the same 50 stars that get recycled for awards every single year. They only add a handful of newcomers only if they’ve been critically praised and that’s it.
    Surely there are other amazing actors/esses out there.

    • Slowsnow says:

      Meryl Streep really explored being the only token white female getting prizes didn’t she? There can only be one good female actress and she has to be the right colour.

  4. Slowsnow says:

    OMG that dress is everything.
    In the morning on Bafta day, Phoenix was protesting for a meet-free, vegan world at Tower Bridge, London with other postestants. I can get behind that.
    I haven’t heard the speech but read about it this morning and he didn’t mention Bafta’s mysoginy. Johanna Hogg’s work as a film director being overlooked in Britain is a real problem.
    He works with the most alpha male of all directors, someone who I loved but have come to think of a really problematic guy, Paul Thomas Anderson. The Master was strangely male and Phantom Thread which I wtched a few days ago got me in hives. It’s so mysoginistic while thinking it’s feminist… and it propagates the myth of the (male) genius. Then the Joker… I can’t.

    Ed: just watched his acceptance speech and REALLY wonder if he read the criticism of Joker and… GOT IT?!

    • Some chick says:

      Rooney is STUNNA. She always looks like an elegant gothy doll! She probably wakes up like that!

      I won’t see Joker, but I thought Joaquin was brilliant in The Master. Which, see it in widescreen. (Part of that was for sure the script, but I thought he really nailed it there.)

      • Slowsnow says:

        @Some I watched The Master and LOVED it at the time (at the theatre). Loved, particulalry, his performance. But I am reviewing my thoughts on PTA at the moment…

  5. Valiantly Varnished says:

    His speech was good. The irony for me and what keeps me from wanting to pat him – or any of these actors – on the back is that the role he was accepting the BAFTA for is a role that perpetuate the angry white male toxic masculinity ethos. It’s great to give a speech and get applauded for it but unless you are doing the work to dismantle white supremacy in your WORK…it’s just words.
    So again. Nice speech. What else will he do? I’ll wait for the actions to back that speech up.

  6. TQ says:

    Am totally with you @Kaiser: ‘On the other side, it’s a f–king starting point. I appreciate that he is properly ashamed of his lack of movement to ensure more diverse/inclusive films. I appreciate that he’s telling the white people in the audience “this is on US.”’ Hell yes.

    It’s the start of a conversation. It’s a white guy saying white folks need to do heavy lifting on white privilege and can’t just leave all the burden on us POC. I’m not saying he’s walking the walk (he seems to admit that he hasn’t been doing what he needs to). But am here for him calling out a mostly White, British, privileged BAFTA audience on this. Keep talking about it, Joaquin. And better yet start walking the walk. Even after you win your damn Oscar.

    • Valiantly Varnished says:

      Yes to all this. Well said.

    • Lilah casting says:

      I like that he gave this speech if only just to see the reaction of the white straight male fanbase who have gone after women who have said something like this and are dragged for it.

  7. Lucy says:

    Sure. He kept it short and simple, yet complete.

  8. potatoe says:

    I suddenly like him.

  9. D says:

    I mean… The speech was alright I guess but what actionable things will he do? I don’t foresee any follow through on this and it feels like another grab of attention for him. He could of rejected the award on stage and then I might have had a little more respect for him but *shrug*

    Idk I’m just not impressed by all the lip service

  10. MellyMel says:

    That’s a good speech! I’m glad he called himself out as well.

  11. Leriel says:

    Nice speech from a guy who played white supremacists wet dream twice already.

    • Heather says:

      Not sure if I’m detecting sarcasm, but if I am:
      Are you suggesting that playing these characters is a reflection of him as a person?

  12. Case says:

    I thought it was a thoughtful, honest speech. I like that he admitted he’s not doing everything he can, and that he and others who have the power need to do better before anything can change. Really, all well-known actors should make a point to work with female/POC directors and producers, with people of color in the cast and crew, people with disabilities, etc. They have the power to work on sets that are more inclusive, which would be a start.

    I just have to say re: Joker – while I don’t think it was as deep as it thought it was, it did NOT glorify the angry white male. Perhaps it made the viewer empathize with the circumstances that lead people to these positions, but he was not made a hero by any stretch. It actually reminded me a lot of watching Carrie as a person who has grown up with school shootings being a regular occurrence – I felt sorry for how she was bullied, but boy was I horrified by the finale. Very complex.

  13. Astrid says:

    I think the goth dress is wearing Mara. I’m not onboard with this monstrosity of a dress.

  14. kerwood says:

    I’m glad that he said it. And I’m glad that someone like Joaquin Phoenix said it because there are no BET Awards in his past (or probably in his future). He’s the industry’s DARLING, always has been. They love him, so if they’re best boy is telling them some truths, that means something.

    But Phoenix is no diversity hero. He was right there with Casey Affleck as Affleck sexually harassed women on his set. The award he won for has become the poster boy for White male rage. So Phoenix’ hands aren’t clean.

    But maybe it’s best that someone who is deep inside told those people how fucked up they are. It’s better than Normal Bill, who stood by and let his sister in law be driven out of the country.

  15. SheaButterBaby says:

    I saw the speech and felt it was genuine and needed. You can tell he thought long and hard about what he wanted to say and also admitted that he himself was part of the problem. Also was very interesting to see how uncomfortable some in the audience were.

    • Cali says:

      The uncomfortable faces were the best part 😄 and I uploaded his speech to FB to congratulate him on his win and for speaking out, and of course he was called Liberal, Woke and advised to “just do his f*cking job” by white bro’s who took offense because they know he’s talking directly to them. I’m very proud of him and his honesty, and even more of a fan

  16. StormsMama says:

    I actually think he is an evolving growing human being
    And that he HAS learned thru this awards season- with all the heightened attention and interviews – he has been receptive to criticism and challenged himself to push out of his comfortable white privileged zone.
    This is a good step : holding the mirror up to himself and others like him
    And I believe that he is now aware and can’t unsee the injustice (similarly with veganism for him- he can’t unsee the animals as sentient beings) and he will be a part of the change going forward.
    I hope I am right.

  17. sparker says:

    yes, he totally came down on the right side of the Joker argument against incels with this rehashed insta-savvy sentiment. Okay Yes, it needed to be said, in real time, to folks without instagram, by someone who looks like them. And No one will remember we thought Joker was supportive of the alt-right movement now. It’s a great strategy, but oh so convenient. Does he get the OScar? Does he mean what he said? Was it timed perfectly to reflect the privilege voting in the senate today? enquiring minds wanna know.

  18. Awkward symphony says:

    Well done to Joaquin for speaking up and admitting his inaction in the past but as they say better late than never!! We should applaud people who admit & highlight how much inequality exists rather than bringing them down!

    Hopefully this encourages more people to help push back and demand change from organisations/directors, casting agencies…etc

  19. CatWomen says:

    Rooney really gives me Olsen sisters vibes in that dress. It’s beautiful and she wears it well.

  20. Asiyah says:

    Part of me thinks he said this because of the criticisms of Joker and how it glorified white male angst? Like he first didn’t get it when he first heard criticisms so he was defensive but then he took time to think and saw why some people would think that way. Then it opened things up for him. Plus, he worked with black people in this movie and it was a different experience for him than previous films. I’m not sure, but I do hope he walks the line now (pun intended).

  21. Eve says:

    I adoooooore him.