Joaquin Phoenix Rambles About How Breakfast Cereal Enslaves Cows, Then Slams Cancel Culture

(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Marlo Safi Culture Reporter
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Joaquin Phoenix gave a speech that explored a variety of themes after accepting his award at the 2020 Oscars, including social justice, cow insemination, and cancel culture. 

Phoenix, a favorite for the award of Best Actor after his role in “Joker”, won the award on Sunday and followed with an address that had its surprises at every turn. (Related: Joaquin Phoenix Wins The Academy Award For Best Actor For ‘Joker’)

He began his speech with remarks on social justice and human solidarity. “I think whether we’re talking about gender inequality or racism or queer rights or indigenous rights or animal rights, we’re talking about the fight against injustice,” he says. “We’re talking about the fight against the belief that one nation, one people, one race, one gender or one species has the right to dominate, control and use and exploit another with impunity.”

He then begins to address the crowd about natural resources, saying that we are guilty of an “egocentric worldview, the belief that we’re the center of the universe. We go into the natural world and we plunder it for its resources.” Phoenix does not break character after he rebuked his fellow celebrities last month at the 77th annual Golden Globes awards for using private jets and polluting the earth despite being climate activists.

However, Phoenix specifically mentions bovine insemination during his Oscars speech, although still striking notes of personal sacrifice and accountability that are similar to his exhortation to fellow celebrities last month. “We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow and when she gives birth, we steal her baby, even though her cries of anguish are unmistakable. And then we take her milk that’s intended for her calf and we put it in our coffee and our cereal. And I think we fear the idea of personal change because we think that we have to sacrifice something to give something up.”

Approaching the finale, he transitions into a speech about cancel culture. “I’ve been a scoundrel in my life. I’ve been selfish, I’ve been cruel at times, hard to work with and I’m grateful, but so many of you in this room have given me a second chance and I think that’s when we’re at our best, when we support each other. Not when we cancel each other out for past mistakes, but when we help each other to grow, when we educate each other, when we guide each other toward redemption.”

He closes his speech with a lyric written by his late brother, River Phoenix: “Run to the rescue with love, and peace will follow.”