Controversial acceptance speech moments

That of Sam Smith… I cringe.

Contrary to popular belief, celebrity acceptance speeches aren’t always a home run — sometimes they can totally miss the mark, sparking backlash, sparking debate, and making headlines.

Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images

Here are 9 times celebrity acceptance speeches were insensitive, controversial, or both:


Jane Campion recently won Best Director at the 2022 Critics Choice Awards and said, “Venus and Serena, you are marvels. However, you don’t play against guys like I should.”


People called Jane for “cutting edge white feminism.” They said her speech was arrogant and she was trying to say she was more downtrodden than the Williams sisters, who face racism and misogyny. She later apologized, saying, “I made a thoughtless comment equating what I do in the film world with everything Serena Williams and Venus Williams have accomplished.


Sam Smith said they were the first gay men to win an Oscar when they won Best Original Song for “Writing’s On the Wall” in 2016:

Oscars / Via

Obviously, Sam’s statement is incorrect. Several homosexuals, like Elton John and Tim Rice, have won Oscars. Sam then apologized on Ellensaying they had drunk too much.

Note: Sam Smith now identifies as non-binary and uses they/them pronouns.


Patricia Arquette took advantage of her speech at the 2015 Oscars to call for equal pay, but missed the mark. “It’s time for us,” she said. “It’s time for women. It’s time for all women in America and men who love each other”. women and all gay people and people of color that we all fought for to fight for us now.”


It lacked any semblance of intersectionality. For example, black women exist. Gay women do exist. The pay gap is also significantly worse for black women, so excluding them from the narrative and message was problematic.


In 2013, Jared Leto sparked a backlash for his Dallas Buyers Club Screen Actor’s Guilds speech, where he won for playing Rayon, a trans woman living with HIV. “I never used prosthetics in this movie. That tiny little Brazilian ass was all mine. It was a very transformative role. I had to do a lot of things to prepare. One of the things I I did was wax my whole body, including my eyebrows. I’m just grateful it’s not a vintage piece, so I didn’t have to do full Brazilian. Ladies, you know what I speak, and some of you too, I think.”


Salon reviewer Daniel D’Addario said it best, writing, “It’s kind of a weird punchline for someone whose whole role was about bodily discomfort and the painful changes one has to make. to feel good about yourself. Leto got some money and at least one award for playing his part in Dallas Buyers Club; it’s odd that he didn’t factor in the idea that his struggle wasn’t, in fact, the most important thing involved in his role.”


James Franco won Best Actor, Musical or Comedy at the 2018 Golden Globes for his portrayal of Tommy Wiseau, then pushed Tommy away and didn’t let him speak during his acceptance speech:

NBC / Via

The film The Disaster Artist talks about Tommy and his life – probably should have let him do the talking.


Adele sparked controversy at the BRITs this year when she said, “I really like being a woman and being a female artist.”

BRIT / Via

In 2021, the BRITs announced that there will be gender-neutral categories. Some people viewed Adele’s focus on gender in her Entertainer of the Year speech as anti-trans.


Fiona Apple’s VMAs acceptance speech in 1997 was controversial when she thanked no one and launched into a rant.


That probably wouldn’t have been a big deal today, but in 1997 it was a rebellious rhetoric that criticized a culture that emphasized celebrity idolization.


The Rolling Stones’ Ronnie Wood threw a drink at Brandon Block, a DJ who kept interrupting his Brit Awards speech in 2000:


Tom Hiddleston won Best Actor in a Limited Series for The night manager in 2017 and delivered a speech that many considered to be the peak white savior complex. In his speech, he said: “I recently went to South Sudan, which is the youngest country in the world, in East Africa. With the United Nations Children’s Fund. I work a little with them to spread the word as quickly as possible, it’s a terrible situation for the children there. The night manager is about arms trafficking, and there are far too many arms coming into South Sudan. He said workers there would “gorge” on his show.

.@twhiddleston wins Best Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series or Made-for-TV Movie! Congratulation ! #GoldenGlobes


In his speech, Tom also said: “The idea that I could, or we could, bring some relief and entertainment to people who work for Unicef ​​and Doctors Without Borders and the World Food Programme, fixing the world in the places where it was broken made me immensely proud.” People thought it was rather self-centered and arrogant.

Let me know which celebrity acceptance speeches missed the mark in the comments below!

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