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Actors let fly on political issues at Screen Actors Guild awards

Actor Mahershala Ali, accepting the award for Male Actor in a Supporting Role, during the Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.
Actor Mahershala Ali, accepting the award for Male Actor in a Supporting Role, during the Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.
Christopher Polk/Getty Images for TNT

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You could say the main discussion at the 2017 Screen Actors Guild Awards was summed up by this tweet:

That's Kerry Washington doing what a lot of actors did at the ceremony — taking the opportunity to comment on the current political climate. Many of the actors used the event as a platform to criticize President Trump’s executive order that temporarily limits visits from seven Muslim-majority countries.

Kyle Buchanan is a senior writer for New York Magazine’s and co-hosts The Awards Show Show podcast with John Horn. When Buchanan spoke today on The Frame with guest host Priska Neely, he addressed what all this politicking does for Hollywood’s reputation in the rest of the country.

Interview Highlights:

On whether expressing political opinions by celebrities helps or hurts the cause:

Certainly it is an old conservative canard that actors ought to stick to what they do and not speak out — that they should just be celebrities and not worry about politics. But now that we've elected a celebrity, I'm not sure that those rules still apply. 

On this kind of political climate at awards shows from previous years:

I don't think it's been this pointed. But things feel a lot more serious right now. I mean, this is all leading up to the Oscars and we just learned this past week that, because of Trump's travel ban, filmmaker Asghar Farhadi, who made the foreign language-nominated film, "Salesman," is not able to even come to the U.S. to take part in the Oscars. I think it is irrevocably changing every part of our society and Hollywood is no different. They just have a bigger platform from which to speak. 

On whether #OscarsSoWhite will take a backseat to broader issues this year:

I think both are extremely relevant and both might have something to do with one another. Representation — in art, in pop culture, in movies — does affect the way we see ourselves and each other. And I think that when you don't have that sort of representation, it becomes very easy to partition certain parts of society or to sow seeds of discord. 

On whether or not #OscarsSoWhite had any effect on this year's SAG awards:

If #OscarsSoWhite affected this at all, I think it affected it in a great way, which is it probably spurred a lot of film studios to green light and rush these movies into production. That's important. These awards bodies can only work with what they're given by Hollywood itself. So when there's more better, differentiated products, I think we'll see more better, differentiated nominations and wins.


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