Vegan celebrity activism: an analysis of the critical reception of Joaquin Phoenix’s awards speech activism

CLAIRE PARKINSON, Lara Herring*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

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Abstract

Acceptance speeches have long been used by celebrity activists as platforms from which to promote their personal, political or ethical agendas. The actor Joaquin Phoenix, an outspoken proponent for animal rights and veganism, dominated the Hollywood awards season in 2020 for his portrayal of Arthur Fleck in Joker and used his platform to address this cause. The reaction to Phoenix’s speech in the trade and mainstream press reveals much about the role of celebrity vegan activism in the contemporary cultural and political climate.
This article analyses the critical reception of Phoenix’s Oscar speech across thirty-seven US and UK trade press and mainstream news articles. In doing so, we explore three key areas: firstly, we examine the notion of ‘acceptance speech activism’ and consider to what extent such speeches are culturally licensed. Secondly, we address the way in which Phoenix presents as an activist and as a celebrity to explore the tensions between these two identities. In doing so we highlight how gender and notions of hegemonic masculinity are managed and reproduced through the press discourse on celebrity animal rights activism. Finally, we seek to address the issues of authenticity by examining the press treatment of Phoenix’s veganism.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCelebrity Studies
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2022

Keywords

  • veganism
  • activism
  • awards

Research Centres

  • Centre for Human Animal Studies

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