Sean Penn threatened to do the unthinkable. He demanded the Academy Awards give Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky time to speak at the ceremony, or he would smelt his Academy Awards. Well, Zelensky did not speak, so what will Penn do?
Over his forty-plus-year career, Penn has accrued five Academy Award nominations. He was first nominated in 1995 for Dead Man Walking, losing to Nicolas Cage. He scored nominations for Sweet and Lowdown and I Am Sam before finally winning the big one in 2002 for Mystic River. Seven years later, he won his second Oscar for Milk. Only 10 men have won Best Actor twice, so he’s in rarified air.
His focus has started changing in recent years. Penn’s always been an outspoken democrat, and he’s used his status to interview El Chapo, and was ingrained in Ukraine when the bombs started dropping. Ahead of last night’s ceremony, he threatened to smelt his Oscars if the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences didn’t provide Zelensky with a chance to speak.
While Penn understands the moment is for films and filmmakers, he encouraged everyone “to protest and to boycott that Academy Awards. I myself, if it comes back to it, when I return, I will smelt mine in public.”
He told CNN “I pray there have not been arrogant people who consider themselves representatives of the greater good who have decided not to check in with leadership in Ukraine. So I’m going to hope that’s not what happened, and I hope everyone walks out if it is.”
Zelensky Did Not Speak
The crisis in Ukraine was mentioned numerous times throughout the Broadcast. Mila Kunis, a Ukrainian herself, discussed it on stage. She and Ashton Kutcher have personally spoken to Zelensky and have pledged to donate millions to help. The ceremony chose to honor victims with a moment of silence.
Considering what happened at the Academy Awards, this may have been for the best. Everything was derailed when Will Smith struck Chris Rock for a joke at Jada Pinkett Smith’s expense. Once that happened, it became the Smith show. One person on Twitter put it rather succinctly.
Will He Follow Through?
Who knows. Penn’s a bit of a wild card, but you can’t say the Academy turned a blind eye to what’s going on. He may not legally be able to smelt them anyway. The Academy owns the Awards it rewards. As stipulated on its website, “The Academy has the sole and exclusive right to reproduce, manufacture, copy, sell… and to distribute or exploit the statuette or reproductions of same by gift, sale, license or otherwise.”
The rules exist to stop folks from selling their Oscars, but this would probably fall under “or otherwise.” It’s hard to imagine Penn actually smelting his Oscars on live TV, but it’s also hard to imagine the Academy taking him to court to stop it. We’ll have to wait and see what happens with this powder keg.