The Oscars are no bright beacon of hope for equality and social change — when looking at either the voters or the nominees, you won’t see much diversity. But the films nominated at the Oscars have been a gateway to talk about important things throughout history, like 2008’s Milk or last year’s Best Picture winner 12 Years a Slave.
This year, four of the eight best picture nominees are based on true events, and one of them has spurred a petition that has collected over460,000 signatures, including those of the film’s cast.
The Imitation Game was inspired by the story of Alan Turing, the mathematician who led the team that broke Germany’s Enigma coding machine and paved the way for the Allies to win World War II. Turing was gay, during a time when committing homosexual acts was illegal in England, and was convicted of indecency. He underwent chemical castration (he was given the choice of that or jail) and eventually committed suicide.
Queen Elizabeth II pardoned Turing in 2013, but now Prime Minister David Cameron is being called to grant the same amnesty to the other estimated 49,000 men who had also received an indecency sentence. Turing’s great niece and nephew will be delivering delivering the petition to Cameron’s office, Deadline reports.
Lead actor Benedict Cumberbatch — who is up for Best Actor for his portrayal of Turing — spoke about the petition on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
Smaller petitions have spiraled off of other Oscar issues before. Last year a petition urging the Academy to honor Sarah Elizabeth Jones, who died in a film set accident, received over 50,000 signatures. On the less serious side, petitions spring up every season for who should host the award show, and there are even multiple petitions for Leonardo DiCaprio to win an award. But none of those petitions would have the beneficial societal impact that this one would.