In Titanic, DiCaprio screamed “I’m the king of the world!”. He may very well be now.
The annual spectacle that is the Oscars was controversial this year when, for the second year in a row (why am I not surprised), all the nominees were Caucasians. And so the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite made its way back to our newsfeeds. It didn’t help that the host of the 88th Academy Awards was Chris Rock – he sure did emphasize the conspicuous lack of diversity among the nominees. Mr. Rock was actually doing great, calling out the Academy for its major faux pas, until he made an inappropriate remark himself about Asians halfway into the program. It makes one wonder if it’s about time they renamed the Academy “Barnum and Bailey”.
While the politically correct among us dwelled on that issue, asking when the reforms will take place or if it will ever happen, the purists and even those who enjoy the movies for what they really are – as entertainment, an art, a medium for escapism – were collectively asking a different question altogether:
Will this be the year Leonardo DiCaprio bags his first and long-awaited and perhaps, overdue Oscar?
And so when the secret fantasy of every girl aged four to 65 took the stage after having been named Best Actor in a Lead Role for his portrayal of frontiersman Hugh Glass in the movie The Revenant, everybody was in bated breaths, expecting him to give a lengthy, emotional speech about the bittersweet event that is getting an Oscar for the first time (after having been nominated five times previously, the first of which was in 1994). Alas, Mr. DiCaprio surprised us yet again.
After the perfunctory thank you’s to his family and the whole team, he wasted no second in talking about the most glaring issue in the world right now: Climate change.
“Making The Revenant was about man’s relationship with the natural world — a world that we collectively felt in 2015 was the hottest year in recorded history. Our production team needed to go to the southern tip of this planet just to be able to find snow; climate change is real, and it’s happening right now. It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species and we need to work together and stop procrastinating. We need to support leaders around the world who do not speak for the big polluters or the big corporations, but who speak for all of humanity; and for the indigenous people of the world; for the billions and billions of underprivileged people who will be most affected by this; for our children’s children; and for all the people out there whose voices have been drowned out by the politics of greed. Let us not take this planet for granted; I do not take tonight for granted.”
He might as well have been awarded “Best Person” in the world right that moment.
See, it wasn’t a political issue, or a diversity issue. It was a human issue, a universal issue. That’s why it resonated with everybody. It was vital for our survival, and the survival of the planet we call home.
What Leo did was an act of bravery and initiative and vigilance. But if you narrow it down, it was just plain common sense. Or prudence. There may be scientists who claim they know, who believe that we are centuries away from running out of resources, just as there are scientists that claim global warming isn’t real. Guess what? There used to be scientists, too, who said the world was flat, that the Earth was the center of the galaxy. In spite of their certainty, and the fact that many believed them, they were wrong. But their wrong assumptions and theories didn’t have any global repercussions. The worst that happened was, they were prosecuted and killed. Now, if the scientists saying climate change and global warming are nothing but hoaxes are wrong, we lose everything.
We need to use common sense. We know there is not a resource on Earth, from a mountain spring to our own human bodies, that doesn’t have limits. Everything has a tipping point. Everything has a point where too much is too much. And once that happens, there’s no going back.
So, ask the questions. Search for answers. And then, be prepared to fight for our home to make the sacrifices necessary to ensure its survival, and the survival of every bit of life on this planet. It’s the most important job we will ever have. We must save our home from ourselves.
That’s the most important thing we can do. And when we’re done, maybe we can watch a Titanic re-run.
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