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Tom Hiddleston Being Called Out For His "White Savior Speech" And 8 Other Times Celebs Faced Backlash For Their Acceptance Speeches

The Sam Smith one...I'm cringing.

Contrary to popular belief, celeb acceptance speeches aren't always a home run — occasionally they can totally miss the mark, draw backlash, spark debate, and make headlines.

Patricia Arquette standing at the podium holding an award and a piece of paper

Here are nine times celebs' acceptance speeches were insensitive, controversial, or both:

1. Jane Campion recently won Best Director at the 2022 Critics Choice Awards and said to Venus and Serena Williams, who were in the audience, "Venus and Serena, you are such marvels. However, you don’t play against the guys like I have to."

@mavericksmovies Here's the clip of Jane Campion's speech #CriticsChoiceAwards


People magazine called out out Jane for "peak white feminism." They said her speech came across as arrogant and as if she was trying to say she was more oppressed than the Williams sisters, who face racism and misogyny. She later apologized, saying, "I made a thoughtless comment equating what I do in the film world with all that Serena Williams and Venus Williams have achieved."

2. Sam Smith said they might be the first openly gay man to win an Oscar when they won for Best Original Song for "Writing's on the Wall" in 2016.

Sam Smith standing next to another man, both wearing bow ties

3. Patricia Arquette used her 2015 Oscar speech to call for equal pay, but missed the mark. "It is time for us," she said. "It is time for women. It’s time for all the women in America, and the men who love women and all the gay people and people of color we’ve all fought for, to fight for us now."

4. In 2013, Jared Leto sparked backlash for his acceptance speech at the Screen Actors Guild Awards for Best Supporting Actor, which he won for playing Rayon, a trans woman living with HIV, in Dallas Buyers Club. "I did not ever use any prosthetics in this film. That tiny little Brazilian bubble butt was all mine. It was a very transformative role. I had to do a lot of things to prepare. One of the things I did was wax my entire body, including my eyebrows. I'm just thankful that it wasn't a period piece, so I didn't have to do full Brazilian. Ladies, you know what I'm talking about, and so do some of you men, I think."

Jared Leto in a bow tie at the podium

5. James Franco won for Best Actor, Motion Picture Musical or Comedy, at the 2018 Golden Globes for his portrayal of Tommy Wiseau and then pushed Tommy away from the podium and did not let him speak during his acceptance speech.

Tommy and James at the podium

6. Adele sparked controversy at the BRIT Awards this year when she said, "I really love being a woman and being a female artist."

#ADELE: “i really love being a woman and being a female artist” #Brits

BRITs / Via

In 2021, the BRIT Awards announced that they would have gender-neutral categories. Some people viewed Adele's emphasis on gender in her Artist of the Year speech as anti-trans.

7. Fiona Apple's 1997 Video Music Awards acceptance speech was controversial at the time when she didn't thank anyone and went on a rant.

Fiona standing at the podium with quote from her that "this world is bullshit" and "you shouldn't model your life about what you think we think is cool, what we're wearing, and what we're saying and everything"

8. Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones threw a drink at Brandon Block, a DJ who drunkenly kept interrupting his BRIT Awards speech in 2000.

Ron throwing a drink at the podium

9. Tom Hiddleston won Best Actor in a Limited Series for The Night Manager at the Golden Globes in 2017 and gave a speech that many viewed as peak white savior complex. In his speech he said, "I recently went to South Sudan, which is the youngest country in the world, in East Africa. With the United Nations Children’s Fund. I do a little bit of work with them to spread the word as fast as I can. It’s a terrible situation for children there. The Night Manager is about arms dealing, and there are far too many arms coming into South Sudan." He said the workers there would "binge" his show.

.@twhiddleston wins Best Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series or a Motion Picture Made For Television! Congrats! #GoldenGlobes


In his speech, Tom also said, "The idea that I could, or that we could, provide some relief and entertainment for people who work for UNICEF and Médecins Sans Frontières and the World Food Programme, who are fixing the world in the places where it was broken, made me immensely proud." Some people thought it was rather self-involved and arrogant.

Did I miss any? Let me know which celeb acceptance speeches missed the mark in the comments below!