Robert De Niro has never been one to smooth over life’s grittier aspects and pretend everything’s fine—not even while addressing a group of fresh college graduates.
The actor gave a short speech while accepting an honorary doctorate of fine arts at Brown University’s commencement on Sunday, the Associated Press reports. “Well, the country’s gone crazy. In movie terms, when you started school, the country was an inspiring, uplifting drama,” the Oscar winner told the Ivy League grads. “You’re graduating into a tragic, dumbass comedy.”
De Niro has made his feelings about Donald Trump’s administration apparent before. During an appearance on NBC’s Today show in January, he said that protests of Trump’s inauguration were warranted. And although De Niro advised the graduating students to lock the famous Van Wickle Gates at Brown’s entrance and stay in their safe university bubble forever—”Are you sure you want to do this?” he joked—he advised, should they do decide to go out into the world, they ought to “work for the change. Work to stop the insanity.” He added: “Start now, so the class of 2018 will graduate into a better world.” (De Niro’s speech begins around the 30-minute mark in this official video of Brown’s commencement.)
Hamilton star Daveed Diggs also received an honorary doctorate of fine arts at the ceremony and, like De Niro, took the opportunity to inspire the new grads to rise above the nation’s current chaos. In his remarks at Saturday night’s baccalaureate ceremony, the Tony Award winner and Brown graduate told seniors, “Our world desperately needs you now,” according to Brown. “We need your new ideas because our old ones have made a big mess of things.”
The actors aren’t the first ones this graduation season to implore new grads to resist America’s current status quo. In her commencement speech at Wellesley College last week, Hillary Clinton advised the audience to steel themselves against the current administration’s dangerous tactics. “When people in power invent their own facts and attack those who question them, it can mark the beginning of the end of a free society,” she told the 2017 graduates of her alma mater. “You are graduating at a time when there is a full-fledged assault on truth and reason.”
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