This morning, I sat through three hours of the Golden Globes just to watch five minutes of Joaquin Phoenix. While his acceptance speech for Best Actor (Drama) was simultaneously everything and nothing that I'd expected, I did wish, when it was past noon and I'd done nothing, that I'd had the sense to turn on the telly at, oh, 11.30am, given that it was more than likely that his category would be announced close to the end of the show.
Then again, if I hadn't sat through the whole thing, I wouldn't have had the opportunity to roll my eyes at the 'celebrities' (what a stupid word) who banged on about the bushfires in Australia - sad, no doubt - but didn't make, or didn't mention, the connection between that and the plant-based dinner that they all had (though the Lindors on the table probably weren't vegan). And Joaquin's epic speech, while epic in its own right, would have seemed less epic without the context of the seeming obliviousnes of all who came before him.
The point of this entry is to capture what it'd felt like when my favourite actor of the past twenty bloody years, whose vegan world view I finally share completely, stood on stage in front of virtually the entire world and said the crucial
thing that needed to be said. It had felt like he was speaking on my behalf; that's what it'd felt like. While I had an inkling that he'd mention veganism (though he never said the word explicitly), I didn't know where he was going when he began by thanking the Hollywood Foreign Press Association; I didn't know that it was going to be the first thing that he would bring up. 'First, I would like to thank the Hollywood Foreign Press,' he said, 'for recognising and acknowledging the link between animal agriculture and climate change. It's a very bold move making tonight plant-based and it really sends a powerful message.'
If only more people picked it up. If only the press focused on this part of his speech instead of the 'f-bombs' (for fuck's sake, are we in primary school?) that he dropped in his speech. At least they picked up on the last part of his speech that he managed to sneak in before he was rushed off the stage. And if I hadn't sat through the preceding 2 hours and 55 minutes, I probably wouldn't have picked up on the subtext of what he said:
Contrary to popular belief, I don't want to rock the boat. But the boat is fucking rocked. And--it's really nice that so many people came up and sent their well wishes to Australia, but we have to do more than that. [...] And I've not always been a virtuous man, and I'm learning so much and so many of you in this room have given me the opportunity to try and get it right... But together, hopefully we can be unified and actually make some changes. It's great to vote, but sometimes we have to take that responsibility on ourselves, and make changes and sacrifices in our own lives, and I hope that we can do that. We don't have to take private jets to Palm Springs for the awards sometimes and back. Please. And I will try to do better, and I hope you will too.
In the broader context of the impact of animal agriculture on climate change: what's the point of sending useless well wishes to Australia, apart from a brief feel-good moment and scattered applause, when the most obvious thing that anyone
can do probably isn't being done? If the HFPA hadn't decided on a plant-based menu, the hypocrisy of these 'well wishes', uttered while people in the room feasted on dead flesh, would have been even more stark. So well done on the plant-based menu; this is the way it should be everywhere
, all the time
, for the animals and for the planet.
But more importantly, well done Joaquin for saying what desperately
needed to be said, which no one else had said. I had never quite understood the concept of someone else giving me
a voice, for I've always felt like I express myself pretty well, and that no one else can express what I think and feel better than I do; in fact, I've always been pretty full of myself in that regard. But watching him fumble through his awkward acceptance speech and listening to those words, it'd really felt as if he was speaking on my behalf...and plausibly not just my
behalf, but for all committed ethical vegans who have made the necessary changes in their own lives and habits, in hopes of delivering a better world for all
, human and non-human animals alike.
I'd wanted Joaquin to win for two reasons: I love this man, and I have loved him on-and-off for the past twenty (fucking) years; and I knew that he would say what he said, which, I repeat, desperately needed to be said. It's become a point when veganism isn't just about saving the animals (though, for me, it's primarily about that); it's also about the planet. Ditching plastic straws and plastic bags is great, but it literally does not have the same impact as going vegan. It's a mere pat on the back to make ourselves feel better, as if we're doing something good for the planet that we profess to love. I'm sorry to say that it simply isn't enough; in fact, in the grand scheme of things, it's as good as nothing. It's as good as carnists going on stage at the Globes and sending their shitty well wishes to Australia. Animal agriculture is one of the leading causes of climate change; this is a fact. It is obvious, then, that the solution, easily done by anyone
who is of average health and who lives in a modern society, is to go vegan. Let's stop this meat-free Monday bullshit, let's stop telling ourselves it's okay to consume animal products as long as we're making the effort to reduce. It is not enough; it has to be all or nothing. That
is how serious the climate emergency is.
And of course, think about the animals. All the animals who don't want to die, but die needlessly anyway to provide the food that we don't need, the suffering they endure, the trauma, the pain. I would go into details but thinking about all this is emotionally exhausting, and the facts are all out there on the Internet. In fact, Joaquin has narrated two documentaries on the subject: Earthlings and Dominion. They're the Joaquin films I will never watch because they will fucking destroy me, and I do not have the emotional stamina and hardiness to sit through four hours of footages of animal abuse.
But let me end this on a positive note: yay Joaquin!