The overlooked message of Ellen Page's speech

22 February 2014

Ellen Page's emotional and touching speech, known as her 'coming out speech' given last week at the Human Rights Campaign's conference, was a significant moment and important reflection on our current society by a world-wide known figure. This speech didn't just address LGBT community, it addressed an important position of society and tackled an issue close to many peoples hearts - the acceptance of one another. But one of the most important messages of this speech that I believe it holds, will become regrettably overlooked, all because of the tabloid obsession over another celebrity's personal relationship endeavours. This message is arguably one of the most important things I learnt from my time at university and growing up in this digital society. It is about the ideals, the world and the nature that Hollywood movies and television create for us to implement in some shape or form into society and our everyday lives.

In the conference, Ellen made an interesting remark against the culture of the Hollywood industry, that could also relate to television as well. She stated;  

"It's weird because here I am, an actress, representing - at least in some sense - an industry that places crushing standards on all of us. Not just young people, but everyone; standards of beauty, or a good life, of success. Standards that, I hate to admit have affected me ... You have ideas planted in your heads, thoughts you never had before, that tell you how you have to act, how you have to dress, and who you have to be. I've been trying to push back, to be authentic, to follow my heart, but it can be hard."

To me, this is one of the most important confessions I have ever heard from anyone in the Hollywood industry. It carries social meaning and moral value that is missing from the messages that mainstream Hollywood portrays. Hollywood creates a world that we feel like we have to live up to; from the way we act, to the way we speak, who we appear to be, and, who we should aspire to be. Sometimes these messages can be completely contradictory as well. For instance, it is important to attend tons of parties, have as many intimate hook-ups as possible. But if a young female does that, then she must have no standards, morals and should not be someone you imagine yourself with in a long-term romantic relationship. If she, however, can not 'loosen' up, she is frigid and not worth spending worth your leisure time on right now. There are also other so called truths that Hollywood portrays, which are also damaging to our society and the people who live in it. Losing your virginity by the end of high school is a must, or else you may die of public shame and social embarrassment. It is a prerequisite to the adult stages of the good life. We should attempt to take all the world has to offer, no matter the consequences and who we may hurt along the way. It's just all good fun. The only way to truly live and be successful is by being rich and famous. That is the way way life should be lead and no other way. The list is endless! We could be sitting here all day trying to name all these 'truths' presented to the world through these films.

These types of meanings and messages create a perception of how the world should be from a fair few individuals who've only lived a certain way. The population of the world is much more denser, larger and varied than what is shown on screen. These films dictate the way the world is seen through a screen medium, and the agenda of a high power in our society. The impact that Hollywood, film, television  and even music can have on our ideals and everyday lives is just staggering. There are so many people who in some shape or form have addressed this over the years from the online community of YouTube to the everyday conversation. This situation has been identified, and in some ways this awareness is definitely helpful for the future generation who are growing up in this digital mediated society. Change needs to be done - but the question of will it, is another topic entirely. Change does not happen over night, but it starts with a fair few. I do believe there's a reason why dystopian fiction has become so popular these past years in the pop-culture realm. Unfortunately - this message is not something that will be taken from this Valentines day confession from Ellen Page. It will be overlooked. The importance of this statement that resides not only within the LGBT community, but within the everyday individual (regardless of race, gender, social class and ethnicity), who is affected by the standards that are reinforced into society by these films. This message will not be acknowledged in the way it should be. It again, like so many other attempts to provide a social good to society, will be overlooked by the small trivial details of who wore what, who is dating who and the relationship happenings of celebrity figure. These factors can not help but make this wonderful speech, oh so bittersweet!

How do you feel about the Hollywood system or Ellen Page's speech? What did you take from it? How do you feel about the world or ideals portrayed in Hollywood movies? I'd love to know what you think! Let me know, in the comments below.

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