Joaquin Phoenix used his Best Actor win at the 92nd Academy Awards held in Los Angeles, CA on Feb. 10 to speak out about animal rights, advocate for the fight against all forms of injustice, and to support people growing and becoming better.
Phoenix, who won his Oscar for his role in the Batman universe film Joker, has been a long-time vegan and animal rights activist.
"I think that we’ve become very disconnected from the natural world and many of us what we’re guilty of is an egocentric worldview, the belief that we’re the center of the universe," said Phoenix in his victory speech. "We go into the natural world, and we plunder it for its resources. We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow, and when she gives birth, we steal her baby even though her cries of anguish are unmistakable. Then we take her milk that’s intended for her calf, and we put it in our coffee and our cereal."
The actor, whose work includes Gladiator, Walk The Line, The Master and Her, also made a point to bring together what he characterized as a number of "distressing issues."
"I’ve been thinking a lot about some of the distressing issues that we are facing collectively, and I think at times we feel or we’re made to feel that we champion different causes," said Phoenix. "But for me, I see commonality. I think whether we’re talking about gender inequality or racism or queer rights or indigenous rights or animal rights, we’re talking about the fight against injustice. We’re talking about the fight against the belief that one nation, one people, one race, one gender, or one species has the right to dominate, control, and use and exploit another with impunity."
Phoenix is well-known for his support of numerous causes. Some organizations he's supported include Amnesty International, the Peace Alliance, an organization which advocates for peace-minded policies in local, state and federal governments, animal and environmental support group In Defense Of Animals, and The Lunchbox Fund, which provides meals to schoolchildren in South Africa.
He also used his speech to confront the concepts of personal change and cancel culture. Instead, suggesting that it was better to give people the opportunity to improve themselves to do better, citing himself as an example.
"I think we fear the idea of personal change, because we think that we have to sacrifice something, to give something up," he said. "But human beings at our best are so inventive and creative and ingenious, and I think that when we use love and compassion as our guiding principles, we can create, develop, and implement systems of change that are beneficial to all sentient beings and to the environment.
"I’ve been a scoundrel in my life. I have been selfish, I’ve been cruel at times, hard to work with, and I’m grateful that so many of you in this room have given me a second chance. I think that’s when we’re at our best, when we support each other. Not when we cancel each other out for past mistakes, but when we help each other to grow, when we educate each other, when we guide each other towards redemption. That is the best of humanity."
Watch Joaquin Phoenix's Mercy For Animals videoAir Jordan 1