Confession: I loved Graham Moore’s Oscar speech.
For those of you who missed it or had something better to do than watch an awards show (gasp!), here’s the latter part of what he said:
“When I was 16 years old, I tried to kill myself, because I felt weird and I felt different and I felt like I did not belong. And now I’m standing here, and so I would like for this moment to be for that kid out there who feels like she’s weird or she’s different or she doesn’t fit in anywhere: yes you do. I promise you do. You do. Stay weird. Stay different. And then when it’s your turn and you are standing on this stage, please pass the same message to the next person who comes along.”
There’s been a surprising amount of backlash about his comments. Specifically, that he didn’t make his statement about sexual orientation, since his Oscar was for a movie about Alan Turing, a scientist who was gay. (See this article.)
I find the negativity terribly disappointing. How could you be upset at someone for not saying exactly what you would like them to say?
Graham Moore’s words were not less valid or less true simply because he wasn’t promoting a cause like most of the other celebrities. There are plenty of people who, like him, struggle with depression, feel like they don’t fit in, and wonder if they ever will. Are they somehow less important because they don’t represent a cause?
Of course not. And how dare anyone shame Moore for sharing his experience and offering hope. Must every statement be a social commentary or a call-to-action? Is Moore’s experience any less valid because he’s a straight, white male? I’m not saying Hollywood doesn’t have diversity issues. But why are we diminishing Moore’s words because his depression didn’t spring from a struggle with his sexual identity?
That’s like saying someone who grew up wealthy cannot possibly know what it is to feel neglected, or that someone who excelled academically could never feel like a failure. How can we possibly judge someone else’s experience? Depression is no respecter of class, race, sexual identity, or life experiences.
Within Hollywood, overdoses and suicide attempts are sadly common. But outside that world, there is still a major stigma attached to depression, so Moore’s choice to be honest and reveal something about himself was incredibly brave. On a night when celebrities were using their time to draw attention to causes (admirable, no doubt), Moore took the time to share a message of hope to whoever needed it instead of limiting it to a specific population.
Stay weird. Stay different. You belong.
Thank you, Graham Moore. I plan to stay weird. I hope you do the same.