I have a confession to make: I didn’t catch any of this year’s Academy Awards, which is now 24 hours old as I write this. Admittedly, I do not get into awards shows very much. When I think “Oscar,” I tend to think of the roommate that Felix would drive crazy. I’m not even one for all the red carpet strum-and-drang that accompanies the Oscars. However, I noticed a trending topic on Twitter, “#AskHerMore.” Yes, it had to do with the Oscars red carpet, but it was more than just complaints about the interviewers on E! or ABC saying or doing something crazy.
As a matter of fact, “#AskHerMore” served as a call for empowerment. For the uninitiated, the Representation Project launched “Ask Her More” to raise awareness of and to fight gender stereotypes in media and pop culture, including on red carpets, where male stars are championed with meaningful questions (“What did you do to get into your role?” “Describe how you got your film made?”), while the questions asked of female stars are only as meaningful as “Who designed your gown?” “Ask Her More” aims to alter that script and promote red carpet questions that are not so sexist. Happily, “Ask Her More” appeared to make a difference on Oscar night, as evidenced by how well that topic trended and by such red carpet responses such as this:
So to the Julianne Moores of the world eager to answer questions more meaningful than “What post-awards party are you attending,” and to those wanting to have more red meat on the red carpet, thanks for altering the Oscar night script. Here’s hoping #AskHerMore makes a difference. (By the way, more info on the topic can be found in this great write-up on Think Progress.)
Of course, if one doesn’t watch an award show (again, guilty as charged), they may miss some powerful moments. Sure, Patricia Arquette brought the house down with her equality speech on Oscar night, as did John Legend and Common with their performance. But after reading up on the Monday morning Oscar postmortem, my favorite is the acceptance speech Graham Moore gave after winning for his screenplay for The Imitation Game. Moore confided to the audience that he tried to take his own life at the age of 16 “because I felt weird and I felt different and I felt like I did not belong.” Luckily, he was able to receive support in the face of his depression from family and friends, “and not everyone gets to have that. I’m very aware of how lucky I am.”
Support is a powerful thing, isn’t it? I won’t get into it too much here (perhaps in a future post), but I myself had a rough time emotionally as a teenager; I felt scared and unsure of school, of my intelligence, of myself in general, though not scared enough that I would consider ending it all. Luckily, my parents were able to see through my defenses and realize I had problems; when I was 16 and was trudging to the final weeks of my junior year of high school, they sought out a counselor to help me sort through (some of) my problems. The time I spent with that counselor that summer made me feel better about myself the rest of my high school days. Though there have been times when I sought out additional help, I’ll be forever grateful for the support that counselor gave me.
Though I don’t know if I would have considered myself “weird” as a 16 year old (even with my closeted crossdressing), I did find Graham Moore’s speech quite moving, and his closing thoughts are perfect for any “weird” person of any age out here. Consider his meaningful words as a shot of encouragement for those who feel out of place:
“I would like for this moment to be for that kid out there who feels like she’s weird or she’s different or she doesn’t fit in anywhere. Yes, you do. I promise you do. You do. Stay weird. Stay different. And then when it’s your turn, and you are standing on this stage, please pass the same message to the next person who comes along.”