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Patricia Arquette’s Golden Globes speech warned of a world on the brink of apocalypse

“Tonight, January 5, 2020, we’re not going to look back on this night in the history books.”

Constance Grady is a senior correspondent on the Culture team for Vox, where since 2016 she has covered books, publishing, gender, celebrity analysis, and theater.

Patricia Arquette brought politics crashing into the 2020 Golden Globes, with a powerful acceptance speech that gestured to the world’s near-apocalyptic mood as the ceremony unfolded Sunday night.

At the beginning of the evening, host Ricky Gervais admonished winners not to talk politics in their acceptance speeches. “You’re in no position to lecture the public about anything,” Gervais declared. “You know nothing about the real world. Most of you spent less time in school than Greta Thunberg. If you win, come up, accept your little award, thank your agent and your god, and fuck off.” And accordingly, most of the night’s winners thanked their agents and their gods, murmured a quick line about climate change, and then beat a hasty exit from the stage.

But Patricia Arquette, who won the award for best supporting actress in a limited series for her work on the Hulu show The Act, decided not to take Gervais’s advice.

“I’m so grateful to be here and celebrate this,” Arquette began, “but also I know tonight, January 5, 2020, we’re not going to look back on this night in the history books. We will see a country on the brink of war, the United States of America. A president tweeting out a threat of 52 bombs, including cultural sites. Young people risking their lives traveling across the world. People not knowing if bombs are going to drop on their kids’ heads. And the continent of Australia on fire.”

Arquette wasn’t up for one of the biggest or splashiest awards of the night, and her speech, which she concluded by begging the audience to vote in 2020, was one of the ceremony’s briefest. But her speech was one of the night’s most impactful and serious moments — perhaps in part because, in direct contrast to Gervais, Arquette neither treated the Globes as the most important thing happening, nor as though acknowledging their unimportance made her daring or brave. She delivered her message and got off the stage, and now her message is one that viewers are talking about.

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