Celebs challenged to pony up $140,000 Oscar SWAG gift bags instead of tearful speeches on Ukraine

It’s hard to imagine Hollywood being any more out of touch than it already is.

But then each year another Oscars comes along, and with it more evidence of the growing divide between Tinsel Town and Main Street America. This year, at the 94th Academy Awards held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on Sunday night, the whole world was treated to the spectacle of a tone-deaf Oscars ceremony in which the hosts delighted in mocking Republicans and weighing in on domestic issues, but awkwardly shunned any mention of the war in Ukraine until the very end of the program.

The mostly unlikable hosts and celebrity guests spent much of the show taking potshots at the vast majority of Americans who don’t share their views, but they remained mum on Ukraine until actress Mila Kunis, who hails from Ukraine, appeared on stage to speak about Russia’s invasion of her home country. However, at no time did she mention either country by name.

“Recent global events have left many of us feeling gutted,” she said, “yet when you witness the strength and dignity of those facing such devastation, it’s impossible to not be moved by their resilience. One cannot help but be in awe of those who find strength to keep fighting through unimaginable darkness.”

The actress then went on to introduce country singer Reba McEntire, who performed her song “Somehow You Do.” Kunis has been very outspoken about the situation in her home country, and she and her husband, Ashton Kutcher, have already done a great deal to provide humanitarian aid to the war-torn country. The couple launched a fundraiser on the crowd-sourced GoFundMe site that has raised over $35 million in relief money for Ukrainian refugees.

So it’s a little surprising that she wasn’t more vocal about the war during her brief appearance at the Oscars. The segment concluded with an awkward moment of silence, during which title cards were displayed to solicit support for Ukraine from the audience. “We’d like to have a moment of silence to show our support for the people of Ukraine currently facing invasion, conflict and prejudice within their own borders.”

“Invasion, conflict and prejudice”—that’s certainly one way of putting it, although it makes it sound like the Ukrainians are more in need of a good anti-discrimination lawyer than heavy weaponry and powerful warplanes. Meanwhile, according to The New York Times, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy himself had lobbied the Academy to appear in a video address at the ceremony, but they decided on the bizarre title cards instead.

The hosts Regina Hall, Wanda Sykes, and Amy Schumer had little to say about Ukraine. Schumer managed to at least mention a “genocide in Ukraine” among a list of general world concerns at the end of the program. But they had no such reticence when it came to safer and more familiar issues—like mocking fellow Americans whom they disagree with.

“We’re going to have a great night,” Sykes declared in the forgettable opening monologue, “and for you folks in Florida, we’re going to have a gay night! Gay, gay, gay!” It was yet another unfunny reference to Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill, but it probably plays well with the Oscars’ target audience. Schumer chimed in with her own grievance: “This year the Academy hired three women to host—because it’s cheaper than hiring one man.”

Matters weren’t helped by the fact that the already obscenely wealthy guests were given gift bags valued at over $140,000. The swag bags included Scottish titles and land; a four-night stay for two at a luxury resort, valued at $15,600; an arm-sculpting procedure, valued at $12,000; a $25,000 home remodeling project from a construction company; and Botox skin treatments valued at $10,000, according to Daily Mail.

Needless to say, this didn’t go over well with many people.

Once again, Hollywood has outdone itself in proving to the world just how out of touch it really is.


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Todd Jaquith


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