Actors wear red pins calling for Gaza ceasefire on Oscars red carpet

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On the Oscars red carpet, a striking departure from the typical glitz and glamour unfolded, with notable celebrities such as singer Billie Eilish and actor Mark Ruffalo proudly donning red pins as a poignant call for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war, The New York Times reported. This marked a significant departure from the general trend of Hollywood stars shying away from drawing attention to the ongoing conflict during this awards season.

The red pins served as a symbol of solidarity with Artists4Ceasefire, a coalition of celebrities and industry members who, in a collective effort, signed an open letter urging President Joe Biden to advocate for an immediate cease-fire, according to The New York Times. The list of nearly 400 signatories includes this year’s Oscar nominees Bradley Cooper and America Ferrera, along with prominent names like Cate Blanchett, Drake, Ben Affleck, and Jennifer Lopez.

“The pin symbolizes collective support for an immediate and permanent cease-fire, the release of all of the hostages and for the urgent delivery of humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza,” Artists4Ceasefire said in a news release. “Compassion must prevail,” the release continued. One of the entertainers who wore the symbolic pins was comedian and actor Ramy Youssef, who starred in the highly nominated film “Poor Things.”

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Youssef expressed a mixture of hope and disappointment, saying, “There’s a part of you that hopes it doesn’t have to get to pins… There’s a part of us that hoped we would already be at a cease-fire, and we’re not.” Youssef also reflected on the surprising lack of questions about the war during earlier red carpet events this season. At the Golden Globe Awards in January, he seized an opportunity to redirect a question about Jeremy Allen White’s Calvin Klein ad into a call for a cease-fire.

He emphasized that this isn’t about political strategy but a simple plea: “Hey, let’s stop killing kids.” Other notable personalities joining this movement included director Ava DuVernay, actor Quannah ChasingHorse, and Billie Eilish, who won the Best Original Song for “What Was I Made For?” from “Barbie.” Eilish incorporated the red accent into her black-and-white Chanel ensemble, a sentiment echoed by her brother and producer, Finneas, as reported by The New York Times.

While the Israel-Hamas war had a limited presence on red carpets since the Golden Globe Awards in January, where stars wore yellow ribbons in solidarity with hostages held by Hamas, the Oscars served as a platform to renew attention to the humanitarian crisis. The Artists4Ceasefire pins, resembling glossy red quarters with an image of a hand surrounding a small black heart, have made intermittent appearances throughout the awards season.

At the Grammy Awards, members of the indie rock trio boygenius attached these pins to their suits, and actors Tony Shalhoub and Ebon Moss-Bachrach showcased them on the red carpet at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. Mark Ruffalo, nominated for the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role in “Poor Things,” also proudly displayed an Artists4Ceasefire pin at the Directors Guild of America Awards in February.

Ruffalo emphasised the need to give a ceasefire a chance, stating, “We’re not going to bomb our way to peace.” The Israel-Hamas war has resulted in a significant loss of life, with over 30,000 people reported killed in Gaza, according to Gazan officials, and around 1,200 casualties in Israel from the Hamas attack on October 7. Red carpets at award shows have traditionally provided opportunities for stars to draw attention to various issues.

At the 2023 Oscars, blue ribbons were donned to express support for refugees. In 2018, women in Hollywood wore black to the Golden Globes in solidarity with victims of sexual harassment. Natalie Portman, in 2020, wore a cape embroidered with the names of female directors at the Oscars. While Hollywood stars have increasingly spoken out on political leaders, abortion rights, and racial inequality on award show stages, discussions surrounding the war in the Middle East have been relatively subdued.

However, the Grammy Awards saw a slight shift last month when Annie Lennox called for a cease-fire during her musical tribute to singer Sinead O’Connor. The Los Angeles Police Department anticipated possible protests related to the Israel-Hamas war on the day of the Oscars, leading to increased security around the Dolby Theater, the venue for the awards show.

Ramy Youssef emphasised the unique role of artists in encouraging viewers to engage with humanitarian issues, saying, “There’s that term ‘talking heads’ — I think artists are talking hearts,” he said. “We’re appealing on an emotional level,” The New York Times reported.