The Artists4Ceasefire pins worn at the Oscars last night actually debuted at (or before) the Grammy Awards, and are representative of a group of artists petitioning Joe Biden to ask for an immediate and permanent ceasefire, after the 30,000 lives lost and over 70,000 injured in Gaza and Israel over the past five months. 

It's worth noting that the page doesn’t have a huge number of names on it (and, despite petitioning Biden, many aren’t American), but some of the people who wore buttons to the Oscars, including Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell, aren’t listed on the site, and a couple who are didn’t appear to wear buttons. 

Obviously, emotions run high on this one, and nobody’s obligated to wear anything, regardless of what they support. The stars we did see wearing ceasefire pins -- in addition to the Eilish-O’Connells, Mark Ruffalo, Ava DuVernay, Mahershala Ali, Riz Ahmed, and Ramy Youssef were all photographed with them on -–  are all relatively experienced with being politically outspoken (though maybe not regarding a conflict as fraught as this). 

Mahershala Ali speaks onstage during the 96th Annual Academy Awards
Mahershala Ali speaks onstage during the 96th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on March 10, 2024 in Hollywood, California

It does make you wonder how people are approached, though. If you’re a signatory to the list, and you’re going to the Oscars, but choosing not to wear a pin – do you post one on your socials? Give a donation? Do you have an obligation to do anything public at all? Did this same consternation surround celebs who put on HIV/AIDS ribbons a generation ago? 

Taking any kind of a stand is definitively separating yourself from those who aren’t. It’s so fraught, and understandably paralyzing – especially when those who choose to speak out do so knowing they run the risk of being misunderstood.

Jonathan Glazer used his acceptance speech for Best International Feature to compare the topics explored in his film with the state of Gaza, and to say that he and his colleagues “refute their Jewishness and the Holocaust being hijacked by an occupation which has led to conflict for so many innocent people”. It’s worth noting that he has refrained from any kind of comment through awards season, until now. The room erupts into cheers – but there are also shots of audience members looking affected, but unsure. Do they clap? Do they nod solemnly? If they do, what happens then? (Especially since Glazer’s remarks are, somewhat predictably, already being taken out of context?) 

What do we want from our highest-profile people? Do they have a responsibility to use their iconic statuses to bring visibility to things they care about? Or should we not be affected by what famous people think and feel? Is it disingenuous to ask these questions on the biggest, ‘glitziest’ night of, or is that when we want the biggest names to make the biggest moves? 

For every one of these questions there are dozens of answers, and everyone is flabbergasted that anything other than their feeling could be considered correct. I guess that's what makes a lapel pin so effective -- by wearing it, you sidestep the need to discuss it at all.