Joker's Joaquin Phoenix calls for compassion—and respect for animal rights—after winning Oscar for best actor

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      When Joaquin Phoenix won the Oscar for best actor tonight, he didn't even mention the film. Nor did he say anything about the director, producer, or his costars.

      Everyone knew he played the title role in Joker, but he was more interested in discussing bigger issues.

      Like the role of humans in the animal kingdom.

      Like the importance of giving human beings a second chance.

      And about how love and compassion should be our guiding principles.

      "I'm filled with so much gratitude right now," Phoenix said as he began his speech. "And I do not feel elevated above my fellow nominees or anyone in this room because we share the same love. That's the love of film and this form of expression has given me the most extraordinary life.

      "I don't know what I would be without it," he continued. "But I think the greatest gift that it's given me and many of us in this room is the opportunity to use our voice for the voiceless. 

      "I've been thinking a lot about some of the distressing issues that we are facing collectively and I think at times we feel or are made to feel that we champion different causes. 

      "But for me, I see commonality. I think whether we're talking about gender inequality or racism or queer rights or Indigenous rights or animal rights, we're talking about the fight against injustice. We're talking about the fight against the belief that one nation, one people, one race, one gender, or one species has the right to dominate, control, use, and exploit another with impunity."

      At that point, the audience spontaneously started cheering.

      "I think that we've become very disconnected from the natural world—and many of us, what we're guilty of is an egocentric world view," Phoenix declared.

      He also suggested that human beings must shed the view that they are at the centre of the universe.

      "We go into the natural world and we plunder it for its resources," he added.

      To cite one example, he brought up the dairy industry.

      "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," he continued. 

      That was followed by a comment about how the milk, whic is intended for her calf, is used in people's coffee and cereal.

      Then he switched topics for a moment. Phoenix admitted that he's been a scoundrel, selfish, and cruel at times in the past. And he thanked people in the audience for giving him a second chance.

      According to Phoenix, when people help one other grow, it reflects the best of humanity.

      Then as he came to the end, he started to choke up.

      He closed by mentioning his older brother River, who died at the age of 23 in 1993.

      "When he was 17, my brother wrote this lyric," Phoenix said. "Run to the rescue with love and peace will follow."

      Then he walked off the stage to a standing ovation.