As if Morgan Freeman's voice wasn't iconic enough already, the 80-year-old Hollywood legend might have just topped his most impressive rhetorical venture to date. Because, as the events of Sunday night's 24th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards have now confirmed, the only thing more staggering than listening to Morgan Freeman say just about anything is listening to Morgan Freeman call out the SAG Awards for its "gender-specific" male-bodied statuette. And what better forum for the actor to solidify his status as beloved Hollywood icon (and oratory master to boot) than the SAG Awards stage, in the midst of delivering an acceptance speech for the ceremony's prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award? (The answer: no better forum, probably.)
In typical Freeman fashion, the speech, in its entirety, would be best described as some cross between gripping and uproarious. And, given the audience's collective standing ovation just before Freeman's closing remarks, it seems safe to say they thought so, too. But it was the veteran actor-narrator's final comments — which he introduced almost like an aside, just before descending from the podium — that seems to have truly resonated with people.
"Oh, and one more thing. I wasn't going to do this," he said, gesturing toward a blown-up rendering of the SAG Awards' traditional (and ostensibly male) statuette on the screen behind him. "I'm going to tell you what's wrong with this statue. It works from the back, but from the front? It's gender-specific."
Some surface-level observational inquiries (or, alternatively, a quick once-over of the statuette) confirm that, in fact, Freeman's critique does make a valid point about the noticeably male-gendered figure. The famed statuette — whose official moniker is "The Actor" — has been something of a staple of the SAG Awards ceremony since its inception in 1995. The figurine is meant to represent a nude male body, proudly holding the "comedy" and "tragedy" theatrical masks in each of his two hands. As Freeman so deftly pointed out, The Actor might be able to pass as slightly more androgynous "from the back" — but, from the front, the statuette is clearly gendered.
After offering his two cents on the gender of the SAG figurine, Freeman paused (though just for a split-second) and glanced back out at his audience, flashing his trademark wry smile. "Maybe I started something," he said. And with that, he scooped up his Lifetime Achievement award and descended the stage. It shouldn't come as much of a surprise that the entertainment industry's reigning narrative guru is practiced at the art of the well-timed mic drop.
In light of Hollywood's Time's Up movement, as well as the burgeoning conversations about gender equality and women's rights (especially within the parameters of the entertainment industry) currently playing out on the national stage, it seems like Freeman's call-out couldn't have come at a more opportune time. In the aftermath of the award show, Twitter basically erupted with reactions to Freeman's speech from fans, news outlets, and industry personnel alike, the vast majority of which serve to praise the actor and rally behind his words.
The SAG Awards official Twitter account even tweeted a video clip from Freeman's speech, accompanied by a caption that suggests they've taken his comments to heart. "Change starts NOW," the account tweeted Sunday night, Jan. 21. The tweet continued, "Equality for all #sagawards."
Echoing the SAG Awards' tweet, the rest of the internet's collective reaction to Freeman's critique of the gendered SAG statuette pretty much boils down to this: 1) they're here for it, and 2) it's about time.
One Twitter user also managed to pretty perfectly encapsulate how most people probably feel about Freeman now, via this GIF:
And another took Freeman's comments about the SAG Awards' statuette and propelled them one step further, calling on other award shows to do away with "gender specific" figurines.
It seems like, one way or another, Freeman was right: he's certainly started something.