After Joaquin Phoenix’s Oscar Speech, The Dairy Industry Is Defending Itself

Joaquin Phoenix in Joker
(Image credit: (ABC))

Oscar speeches often serve as platforms for the actors and filmmakers holding the gold trophies to talk about issues that are important to them to a large audience of Hollywood stars and the tens of millions of viewers at home. As a whole, the Oscar winners' words were more personal than political this year. There were a lot more “Thank you, mom” moments during the almost four-hour telecast. But when Joaquin Phoenix accepted his first Oscar for his performance in Joker, he called out the dairy industry.

During the emotional Oscar speech for Best Actor, Joaquin Phoenix didn’t give a second of time to discussing Todd Phillips’ record-breaking Joker. He decided to use his time to give “voice to the voiceless” – this time being the natural world, or more specifically the cows we “steal” resources from. The National Milk Producers Federation has now responded with the following:

If he [Phoenix] studied the commitment of dairy farmers to animal welfare and had a fuller understanding of the contribution of dairy products to a nutritious diet, especially for children, he might have a different perception of the value that dairy contributes to global health and the importance of the dairy sector to global livelihood.

The spokesman Alan Bjerga responded to Joaquin Phoenix’s words to Fox Business amidst a $3 billion fall in milk sales in the past four years, per Nielsen. More and more consumers are turning to milk alternatives in an effort to combat pollution and climate change across the globe. Almond milk continues to be regularly bought by more grocery shoppers. Oat milk sales rose over 600% last year.

Following Joaquin Phoenix’s comments during the 92nd Academy Awards, the National Milk Producers Federation spokesperson says he is not worried about its impact on the dairy industry. In Alan Bjerga’s words:

We haven’t seen any long-term impact [when comments like these were made previously]. People buy milk because it’s nutritious and healthy for their families, not because they’re following the thoughts of celebrities using a platform. Milk continues to be in 94 percent of refrigerators.

Joaquin Phoenix is vegan himself, and he recently led a protest in London surrounding animal rights as well when he was in town for the BAFTAs. He and fellow protestors hung a sign on Tower Bridge urging people to go vegan. Check more about it below:

A photo posted by on

Throughout the Oscars season, Joaquin Phoenix has touched upon various issues during his awards sweep, including his call to diversity at the BAFTAs last week, echoing the statements of Prince William, who also spoke of the conversation during the ceremony. Here’s what the Joker actor said about the dairy industry during his Oscar speech:

I think we have become very disconnected from the natural world. And many of us, what we’re guilty of is an egocentric worldview – the belief we’re the center of the universe. We go into the natural world and we plunder it for its resources. We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow and when she gives birth, we steal her baby even though her cries of anguish are unmistakable. And then we take her milk that is intended for her calf and we put it in our coffee and our cereal. And I think we fear the idea of personal change because we think we have to sacrifice something to give something up.

Joaquin Phoenix, who has been a nominee at the Oscars three times before his Sunday win, encouraged the audience to guide one another “toward redemption” to help the environment and start putting “systems in change” in place. You can check out his entire acceptance speech below:

The movie for which Joaquin Phoenix finally took home an Oscar, Joker, is now available on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.