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Joaquin Phoenix and Renee Zellweger got it right in Oscars speeches

Henry A. Brechter

As has become the norm, a recent Hollywood award show ignited a partisan divide in reactions and news coverage from throughout the political spectrum. But buried under the hyperpolarized noise was a positive theme that many people missed — a call to find common ground.

Two key award winners at the 92nd Academy Awards on Feb. 9 used their acceptance speeches to encourage unity and camaraderie as a country — an encouraging sentiment to hear from socially influential figures. Yet, this theme was largely ignored in media coverage, while stories about which actor criticized which politician or the $225,000 “swag bags” given out to attendees topped headlines.

Renee Zellweger and Joaquin Phoenix, who each won an Oscar for lead acting roles, took time on stage to preach the importance of inclusion and civility.

“(Our heroes) unite us,” said Zellweger, accepting the award for her role as Judy Garland in “Judy.” “When we look to our heroes, we agree, and that matters. Neil Armstrong, Sally Ride, Dolores Huerta, Venus and Serena and Selena, Bob Dylan, Scorsese, Fred Rogers, Harriet Tubman. … When we celebrate our heroes, we’re reminded of who we are as one people united.”

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