By Jamie Corter
The flashing lights, glamorous gowns and emotional moments have drawn viewers to televised award ceremonies for years. The anticipation builds and then lingers in the air each time a category is called and a celebrity wins. The speeches that proceed can range from heartwarming, empowering, shocking and sometimes political.
As political acceptance speeches at major award shows become more common, students at County College of Morris have a variety of opinions regarding the appropriateness of the practice.
Brooke Preziosi- Arnott, a digital media major, said that it’s good for people to voice their opinions, but celebrities should do so on their social media platforms. In her opinion, incorporating politics into an award show is uncalled for.
“Instead of pushing their beliefs on someone, celebrities should just voice what they believe in, and they shouldn’t accuse other people of being wrong,” Preziosi- Arnott said.
Marilyn Mayorga, a respiratory therapy major, agreed with Preziosi-Arnott that social media, or even news outlets, are the proper places for celebrities to speak up.
“They can obviously speak their minds, that’s how you get people to open up, but I feel like right now, it’s just a bad time to do so,” she said.
Mayorga said that someone will be angry either way because there’s never one side to politics.
“Celebrities should try to limit that [kind of talk] because it can be controversial,” Mayorga said.
Mayorga related celebrities talking about politics at award shows to athletes expressing their political views on the field. From what she’s witnessed, sports fans don’t want to hear about the players’ political views; they want to know what’s happening with the sport itself. If sport fans want to hear about politics, they’ll watch CNN or some other news outlet, she said.
An award ceremony, Mayorga said, is the perfect event for a celebrity to speak their mind if they wish to stir the pot and get a conversation started.
“If you want to spark controversy, then yes an award show is the place to do so,” Mayorga said. “You’ll definitely get the media talking, but you need to be careful. The media also has their own opinions as well. If you want people to notice that you are talking about politics, you’ll definitely stand out at the Emmys or any award show.”
Unlike Preziosi- Arnott and Mayorga, Michael Tartaglia, a psychology major at CCM, believes celebrities shouldn’t speak their mind about their political views at all.
“I don’t think it’s their place to,” Tartaglia said. “They’re there for entertainment purposes, and they shouldn’t be telling other people how they think or how their audience should think.
“No one cares about how Oprah feels about Trump or Hillary,” Tartaglia said. “She is in her own world, experiencing her own things. People in the working class perceive life so different. Oprah is kind of protected from [the struggles of common society] because she has fame and power.”
Tartaglia said responding to followers’ questions about politics is fine for a celebrity to do on their social media, but to openly speak about their political views without being prompted to is not acceptable.
“They shouldn’t bring [politics] to the forefront of an award show,” Tartaglia said. “It should be about the award and about the entertainment. That’s their job, and they should focus on what the award shows are really about.”
Fashion has become a large canvas for celebrities to express their opinions in without verbally saying them. The 2018 Emmy Awards, which were held Monday, Sept. 17, had numerous celebrities decked out in politically driven attire.
Padma Lakshmi, a famous model and Top Chef host, wore a gown she had previously worn to the Vogue India Women of the Year Awards to highlight the toll fashion has on the environment, and also sported a small blue ribbon to support the American Civil Liberties Union. Black-ish star Jenifer Lewis dawned her Nike attire for the red carpet walk in support of the company’s decision to use Colin Kaepernick as the face of their most recent ad campaign.
Fashion is the most tasteful way to express your political opinion, Mayorga thinks.
“[Incorporating your opinion] into fashion is smart,” she said. “Your clothing speaks for you, like, you’re putting yourself out there but in a different way other than just speaking your stance.”
In recent years, the number of award show viewers has plummeted. According to the Los Angeles Times, the 2018 Emmy Awards only drew 10.2 million viewers which was down 10.5 percent from last year’s show. But the Emmys are not the only award ceremony hitting record low viewing numbers.
As stated by Forbes, the Oscars also took a hit in viewers this year by captivating only 26.5 million, marking a 19 percent decrease from the previous year. The New York Times found that this year’s Grammy Awards plunged 24 percent with only 19.8 million viewers. Rolling Stone said that the MTV Video Music Awards drew a mere 5.2 million viewers, which was an all-time low since Nielsen Media started tracking the views in 1994.