Pop-culture column: Hollywood gets political at SAG Awards

Posted on Jan 31 2017 - 8:52pm by Akim Powell

The Screen Actors Guild Awards were filled with actresses walking the red carpet in their customized, dazzling and expensive gowns, ready to make a statement. Actors sporting their well-tailored suits looked suave and camera-ready.  

The SAG Awards recognize the film industry for its achievements. But someone stole this year’s award show, and it wasn’t an actor, to say the least. 

Our new president, Donald Trump, recently announced an executive order to ban people from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States for the next 90 days and suspend the admission of all refugees for 120 days. CNN reports Trump said the government was “totally prepared” for this.

“You see it at the airports. You see it all over. It’s working out very nicely, and we’re going to have a very, very strict ban,” Trump told reporters Saturday.

This ban has left many people outraged and confused, including celebrities.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time this year Trump’s policies have dominated awards season, and it definitely won’t be the last. Early this month, Meryl Streep called out Trump for mocking New York Times reporter Serge F. Kovaleski, who is physically handicapped. Time.com reports that Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi, who is nominated for an Academy Award for his film “A Salesman,” might boycott the award show even if he is allowed entrance in America. Who would’ve thought that this would cause such a controversy in Hollywood?

From the moment the award show started, several presenters and winners didn’t hold back how they felt about the ban. Ashton Kutcher opened the award show by commenting on the ban.

Good evening fellow SAG-AFTRA members, everyone at home and everyone at airports that belong in my America. You are the part of the fabric of who we are. And we love you, and we welcome you,” Kutcher said.

The executive order hit home for a few celebrities including “Veep” star Julia Louis-Dreyfus. She emotionally said in her acceptance speech that she is the daughter of an immigrant who fled persecution of Nazi-occupied France.

“Because I love this country, I am horrified by its blemishes,” she said, continuing to call the ban “un-American.”

Other actors like American Horror Story actress Sarah Paulson asked for support around the world.

I’d like to make a plea for everyone if they can, any money that they have to spare, please donate to the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) to protect the rights and liberties of people across this country. It’s a vital, vital organization that relies entirely on our support. So please, if you can,” she said.

If you think it stops there, then you’re wrong.

“Stranger Things” star David Harbour accepted his award for best ensemble in a TV drama series and asked for support from other A-list celebrities asserting, “It’s a call to arms from our fellow craftsmen and women to go deeper and through our art to battle against fear, self-centeredness and exclusivity of our predominantly narcissistic culture and through our craft to cultivate a more empathetic and understanding society by revealing intimate truths that serve as a forceful reminder to folks that, when they feel broken and afraid and tired, they are not alone.”

Despite the glitz and the glam, it’s nice to see celebrities put their self-image aside and focus on important and timely issues, sometimes becoming outspoken activists. Celebrities’ actions have people wondering what the future of American politics means for Hollywood and more importantly what it means for all Americans. These issues don’t just affect immigrants or celebrities, but all of us as Americans.