Netflix’s Stranger Things beat the likes of Game of Thrones and The Crown to win Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series at the 2017 SAG Awards.
The sci-fi show’s success was almost entirely expected, as the series was the runaway hit of 2016; however the big surprise came in the powerful acceptance speech that followed.
David Harbour, who plays Chief of Police Jim Hopper in the cult 1980s-set drama, had joined Winona Ryder, Millie Bobby Brown, and his fellow cast members to accept the show’s trophy. The actor then stepped up to the microphone to speak out on behalf of the Stranger Things gang – but, instead of working through all the usual thank-you nods, he used the opportunity to deliver the most unexpected and thrilling speech of the night.
“In light of all that's going on in the world today, it's difficult to celebrate the already celebrated Stranger Things,” he said. “But this award from you, who take your craft seriously and earnestly believe, like me, that great acting can change the world, is a call to arms from our fellow craftsmen and women to go deeper, and through our art to battle against fear, self-centeredness, and exclusivity of our predominantly narcissistic culture.
While he never mentioned the President of the United States by name, it quickly became apparent that Harbour was talking about Donald Trump – and, in particular, the POTUS’ controversial ‘travel ban’ on Muslim immigrants.
Harbour got the crowd on its feet with his rousing plea for artists to use their craft to “cultivate a more empathetic and understanding society by revealing intimate truths that serve as a forceful reminder to folks that when they feel broken and afraid and tired that they are not alone.“We are united in that we are all human beings, we are all together on this horrible, painful, joyous, exciting and mysterious ride that is being alive.”
Then, comparing Stranger Things’ fictional, nostalgic tale of demogorgons and upside-down worlds to everything we’ve seen in 2017 thus far, Harbour said: “We are united, in that we are all human beings and we are all together on this horrible, painful, joyous, exciting, and mysterious ride that is being alive.
“Now, as we act in the continuing narrative of Stranger Things, we 1983 Midwesterners will repel bullies.”
As the crowd rose to give him a standing ovation, Harbour continued: “We will shelter freaks and outcasts — those who have no hope.
“We will get past the lies.
“[And] we will hunt monsters.”
Finally, much to the delight of his younger cast-mates, Harbour said: “And when we are at a loss amidst the hypocrisy and casual violence of certain individuals and institutions, we will, as per Chief Jim Hopper, punch some people in the face when they seek to destroy the meek and the disenfranchised and the marginalized. And we will do it all with soul, with heart, and with joy. We thank you for this responsibility.”
The Stranger Things cast were not the only stars to condemn Trump’s controversial Muslim ban.
Ashton Kutcher opened the show at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles by welcoming "everyone in airports who belong in America".
“You are a part of the fabric of who we are and we love you and we welcome you,” he said.
Emma Stone, who took home the gong for Best Actress in La La Land, echoed his sentiments.
“We're in a really tricky time in the world, in our country, and things are very inexcusable and scary and need action,” she said.
“I'm so grateful to be part of a group of people that cares and wants to reflect things back to society.”
Veep’s Julia Louis-Dreyfus, during her acceptance speech for Best Actress in a Comedy Series, also took aim at the US president.
“I'm the daughter of an immigrant,” she said. “My father fled religious persecution in Nazi-occupied France.
“I'm an American patriot and I love this country.
“This immigration ban is a blemish and it's un-American.”
Dev Patel, meanwhile, told the SAG Awards' official red carpet live stream: “I just flew in from India a day ago. When I heard the news it was utterly devastating.
“The first thing that came into my head was the children who arrive on these shores with hope in their hearts.
“It's horrible. It's divisive.
“I hope something changes and something can be done because it really is terrible.”
And Sarah Paulson, star of American Horror Story, urged people to donate to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
“They protect the rights and liberties of people across this country”, she added.
Images: Rex pictures