Jared Leto set a poignant tone for the evening as he made the first televised speech of the night, after accepting his award as Best Supporting Actor for his role in Dallas Buyers Club. While his speech has been widely praised as one of the Oscars’ best, Leto has received criticism from two divergent sources: Russia and the transgender community. The portion of Leto’s speech that mentioned the conflict in the Ukraine was cut out in Russia, while the transgender community felt slighted that Leto didn’t mention them in the speech.
Leto immediately hooked the audience with a beautiful tribute to his Mom:
“In 1971, Bossier City, Louisiana, there was a teenage girl who was pregnant with her second child. She was a high school dropout and a single mom, but somehow she managed to make a better life for herself and her children. She encouraged her kids to be creative, to work hard and to do something special. That girl is my mother and she’s here tonight. And I just want to say, I love you, Mom. Thank you for teaching me to dream.”
After moving off of his family and wading into the political arena, Leto said a few words about the anti-establisment protesters in Ukraine: “To all of the dreamers out there around the world watching this tonight, in places like the Ukraine and Venezuela, I want to say, ‘we are here.’ As you struggle to make your dreams happen, to live the impossible, we’re thinking of you tonight.”
That portion of Jared’s speech did not make it to televisions in Russia, as the issues between Ukraine and Russia have grown increasingly more tense. According to The Hollywood Reporter, a spokesperson for Russia’s state-run Channel One admitted that portions of Leto’s speech did not appear in its broadcast, but denied that it was responsible for censoring his remarks. He instead blamed the condensed version of the broadcast that was aired on Russian television.
Leto was also under attack on a wholly separate front, when Jos Truitt of Feministing wrote:
“I have no interest in watching a cis [non-transgender] man in drag play a trans woman ever again. No matter what ‘Dallas Buyers Club‘ does as a film, the narrative around this movie, the fact that a man in drag is playing a trans woman, perpetuates the stereotype that we are men in drag.” Did I fail to mention that Leto portrayed an HIV-positive, transgender woman in the film – and that he won the Oscar for his work.
It appears that being a heterosexual male should have precluded Leto from taking the role, if we apply Truitt’s logic. Luckily for the movie-going public, the producers of Dallas Buyers Club did not.
[Image via ABC]