Other than spoiler alerts, I never preface my articles with warnings. But here I’m making an exception; because this one contains some fairly spicy takes, especially in our current climate. If you can’t take the heat, stop reading now.
Let’s be honest: the Golden Globes have always been kind of a joke. They’re like the Oscars with half the prestige and twice the alcohol. But this underdog status has always been the Globes’s charm; they were the only Hollywood awards show that didn’t take itself too seriously, with hosts often poking fun at the Hollywood Foreign Press’s questionable legitimacy and the notoriously open bar. But this year things were different. In the wake of the #MeToo movement (or is it the #TimesUp movement?) the show’s producers felt duty-bound to inject the show with a record amount of self-importance, with disastrous results.
In the interest of maintaining this reverent tone, the Hollywood Foreign Press hired Seth Meyers, who graciously agreed not to tell a single joke. Meyers’s limp monologue initially took the odd tactic of mocking Kevin Spacey and Harvey Weinstein for things other than their allegations: Spacey for his House of Cards accent, Weinstein for his appearance. There were also the obligatory Trump jokes, plus some slavish lip service to identity politics, the latter reaching its cringe-worthy nadir with a segment in which Meyers would set up a joke, then hand off the microphone to an audience member deemed racially or sexually qualified to deliver the punchline. Even without the childish and pandering logic behind this bit, the awkward setup, requiring perfect timing on the part of both Meyers and the various punchline-deliverers, doomed it to failure from the start.
The rest of the night’s jokes didn’t fare much better; the fact that Meyers’s funniest, freshest zinger was a Bert and Ernie gay joke really says it all. Amid all the pap, there was only one moment of true edge, which prompted telling boos from the audience: Meyers’s remark that in twenty years, Weinstein would become “the first person ever booed during the ‘In Memoriam.’” This uncharacteristic show of chutzpah brought to mind a fantasy I’d had for months before the show: the return of Ricky Gervais. Never has his cutting presence been more deserved, and I suspect he was instantly ruled out for that very reason. But imagine the fearless, savage digs he would have leveled against all of the accused, as well as the system itself. It would have made for great television, not to mention salvaged the Globes’s steadily declining ratings.
The ceremony hit another low point when they wheeled out Kirk Douglas, looking even worse than he did at the Oscars seven years ago. Now look, I don’t expect a 101-year-old to be camera-friendly, but then why drag him out in the first place? Worst of all were the transparently fake reactions of those in the audience; their frozen smiles and applause apparently meant to trick us into thinking that the ghastly spectacle of Catherine Zeta-Jones translating Douglas’s death rattles was not deeply uncomfortable for everyone watching. I’m not saying Douglas shouldn’t be honored because of his appearance (though maybe he shouldn’t be because of the whole Natalie Wood thing), but there must be a better way of handling it.
But more than anything, what I found most distasteful about the entire mess was the hypocrisy. Yes, Hollywood’s exposure as an industry truly heinous towards women (and in some cases, men) absolutely needed to be addressed at this year’s Golden Globes. But instead of the humility and remorse that one might hope for in the face of such damning truths, Tinseltown responded with self-congratulation for finally acknowledging a problem that has been going on for decades, and likely would have continued without journalists forcing their hand. Presenters and winners couldn’t wait to pat themselves on the back, greedily reclaiming their self-imposed status as America’s moral arbiters. Yes, by bravely affixing a pin to their color-coordinated outfits, they solved sexism and ushered in a new era of gender equality, not just for Hollywood but also for the entire world. But an uncomfortable truth hung over the Golden Globes: that, by the basic rules of probability, many of the show’s attendees were aware of – and in some cases, complicit in – the industry’s culture of harassment. But hey, how about that Oprah speech? YAASS QUEEN, SLAY!
P.S. Oh, and James Franco not letting Tommy Wiseau speak? Not cool.