With the Academy Awards just days away, host Jimmy Kimmel is ready. He's had an entire year to prepare for this job, and yet, Kimmel and his team will continue to rework jokes and tweak the final script right up until showtime. But there's one thing he absolutely plans to address in his opening monologue: #MeToo.
The 90th Academy Awards — airing this Sunday, March 4 on ABC — will honor and award the groundbreaking and stellar films and creatives from 2017. Inseparable from that year in film is the reckoning in Hollywood, ushered in by mounting claims of sexual misconduct against Harvey Weinstein, which opened a flood of accusations against an array of prominent actors, directors, producers and men in media and other industries. While #MeToo was founded over a decade ago— and very much outside of the Hollywood arena — actresses broke the floodgates on a national scale and even mobilized a legal defense fund for survivors under the rallying call, Time's Up.
When Vanity Fair asked Kimmel if he planned to address #MeToo and Time's Up, his answer was definitive: "Yes, I do."
But the stakes this time are different. This isn't like last year's ceremony, where Kimmel easily ripped into President Donald Trump, who wasn't in the room and is always easy fodder for artistic and left-leaning audiences. Some of the culprits may be in attendance, wearing tuxedos, drinking champagne and toasting to their success — even if it meant harming a less powerful creative in the process. Others who have been accused — or not yet outed — may be hyper-conscious of their every move, their every laugh.
"It’s very tricky, because when people are scared, they don’t laugh. And, when there’s a camera in their face, they behave differently than they do in a comedy club or in the audience on a talk show," Kimmel said. "When you’re put in that position, those in the audience become a little bit of a deer in the headlights. That’s the part [where] you have to rely on experience and the knowledge of your medium. We all know that what happens during and after the Oscars is that people will take a screen-grab of somebody and build a whole story around it."
The reality that the Oscar's this year will be different — with the film industry entangled in an ongoing, yet exposed web of misogyny and systematic abuse — is a dynamic that Kimmel is acutely aware of. He spoke to Vanity Fair about finding a balance between entertaining millions of viewers and this larger social responsibility.
"There are some people who feel causes have no place on the Oscar broadcast," he said. "There are some people who feel that should be what we do with that platform. Like everything else, you just have to find that balance. Part of it is luck, part of it is making the right choices."
"Even though it’s the Oscars, this one feels different than last year," Kimmel added. "People, for whatever reason, expect social issues to be addressed on the Oscars [telecast]. That expectation has created situations where it happens always."