At the 24th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on January 21, Morgan Freeman received a well-deserved lifetime achievement award—and during his acceptance speech, called out the very award that he was given for not representing all actors.
Freeman was presented with his award by iconic actor, dancer and singer Rita Moreno, who was given the same SAG honour by Freeman five years ago. The award recognized Freeman’s 54 years in Hollywood, highlighting his groundbreaking roles in The Shawshank Redemption, Million Dollar Baby and Driving Miss Daisy.
Freeman’s speech was confusing to say the least, using the first moments of his time on stage to call out someone in the audience for reasons that were unclear to those watching at home and bantering back and forth with Moreno, but it was what he said at the end that really resonated. As he was wrapping up, Freeman took a moment to call out the figure that is mean to represent actors as a symbol of the Screen Actors Guild.
“I’m going to tell you what’s wrong with this statue,” he said. “It works from the back, [but] from the front, it’s gender-specific.”
In case you’re wondering what that means, let’s just say that the SAG Award figurine, called the “Actor,” is clearly male when viewed from the front. Even though some *ahem* details on the figure’s buff bod may be smoothed out, the mostly nude statue, holding the classic comedy and tragedy masks, definitely has some visible junk in the front. SAG’s “Actor” is basically like “Oscar” of the Academy Awards, except that Oscar’s business is covered, making his gender identity slightly more ambiguous.
As Freeman pointed out, this detail about the SAG Award is particularly problematic for a symbol that’s meant to represent all actors—meaning men, women and gender-non conforming individuals.
— Katie (@Vindikatied) January 22, 2018
I wonder if SAG will change the statue, as Morgan Freeman said, “it’s gender specific.” #TimesUp
— Sassy Blonde (@videogirlprod) January 22, 2018
Freeman’s message was particularly poignant given the Time’s Up movement fighting against sexual harassment and inequality that has taken over this award season. Numerous men and women on the red carpet and the SAG Awards stage used their time at the mic to call attention to the work of women and advocates speaking out against injustices and calling for change. Host Kristen Bell set the stage during her opening monologue.
“Everyone’s story deserves to be told, especially now,” said Bell. “We are living in a watershed moment and as we march forward with active momentum and open ears, let’s make sure that we’re leading the charge with empathy and with diligence, because fear and anger never win the race.”
After calling out the SAG Award statue for being gender-specific, Freeman ended his speech saying, “Maybe I’ve started something.” TBH, we think he has.
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