Lady Gaga stands with sexual assault survivors. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
As Lady Gaga performed a song about sexual assault, the curtain behind her slowly lifted. About 50 people emerged, black figures against a blue screen. They stepped forward, out of the shadows, and onto the Academy Awards stage, facing the Hollywood crowd and millions of viewers.
The casually dressed women and men, who looked like anyone you’d pass on the street, raised their forearms to reveal handwritten messages:
Not your fault.
Rachel McAdams and Kate Winslet, both nominated for one of the evening’s glitziest awards, promptly teared up. Based on the social media response, it appears a good chunk of America did, too.
The nation’s problem with sexual assault — on campus, in the community and in the Catholic Church — was an unexpectedly prominent theme at last night’s Oscars, an event not exactly known for tackling heavy topics.
“Spotlight,” the true story of the Boston Globe reporters who exposed the Catholic Church’s cover-up of widespread molestations, won Best Picture. Mark Ruffalo, who played journalist Michael Rezendes, said on the red carpet that he hoped more victims would feel empowered to step forward.
Brie Larson snagged Best Actress for her role in “Room,” a film about a young woman who is kidnapped, raped and forced to raise her child in captivity. “Mad Max: Fury Road,” a movie about enslaved women escaping their rapist, swept the audio and visual awards. Vice President Biden delivered a surprise speech saying that sexual assault is never the victim’s fault and urging people to intervene “in situations when consent has not or cannot be given.”
“Let’s change the culture,” he said. “We must change the culture, so that no abused women or man, like the survivors …read more