Great speech, Joaquin – but you should have just boycotted the Baftas | Suzanne Moore

Joker star Joaquin Phoenix was right to attack ‘systemic racism’ in the film industry, but wrong to even collect his best actor award

So, Joaquin Phoenix. Great guy, great speech. Nearly as good as his unhinged dance to Gary Glitter in Joker. Actually, perhaps a little more disturbing because it was real life. Only not that real, as this was the Baftas – yet another awards ceremony where well-rewarded people reward each and laugh at crap jokes, where women are applauded for wearing implausible dresses, where Phoenix himself has made the eco sacrifice of wearing the wearing the same Stella McCartney tux that he will to all the awards ceremonies. Hardly a hair shirt.

Also, he is vegan and I liked the Joker for all of half an hour. Anyway, it was “brave” to talk about systemic racism. Pretty fly for a white guy because we have all had enough of various windbags telling us that they are not personally racist. From Piers Morgan to Laurence Fox and, yes, Jeremy Corbyn on antisemitism. Anyone who says they haven’t got a racist bone in their body needs an X-ray.

The continual denial that racism is structural is dismal. When I worked for social services in the 80s and Ken Livingstone and John McDonnell ran the GLC, I did little else but attend courses on structural racism. The Macpherson report called it institutional racism. None of these ideas are new. So well done, Joaquin, but … you know, just how uncomfortable was it?

Everyone knows the Baftas has flopped on every kind of diversity front. It is, I believe, legal not to attend this type of event. No one needs another gong that badly, do they? Step aside. Yes, really – you play your part in the unfair contest by being the star turn. Just as some men refuse to be on panels where there are no women involved, in this type of situation, where the lack of diversity was signalled in advance, you can just not show up.

• Suzanne Moore is a Guardian columnist


Suzanne Moore

The GuardianTramp

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