Humor is a way of making an unpopular truth accessible through laughter - and at the GG2015, this subversion shaped an entire awards show.
“Good evening and welcome you bunch of despicable, spoiled, minimally talented brats.”
Tina Fey began the Golden Globes with that biting sentiment. What was significant about the night though is the same thing that’s significant about the statement: it’s fucking true. And the truth kept coming… Transgender, rape, real women, North Korea and much more. Revolutionary moments that happened so fast it is easy to forget them between commercial breaks. Since a dear friend of mine thought it was important to draw light to these small significant moments, here’s my little recap.
I guess I should say *Spoiler Alert* … but let’s face it. If you haven’t watched the golden globes by now, chances are you won’t. Although maybe after my ramblings you’ll Youtube a few clips – I sincerely hope so, especially because the most prominent one is included at the head of the article.
Opening the show with a Bang
Okay, so where were we? Oh, yes. The truth. In multitudes. Some of you are probably thinking: “yeah, sooooo, what’s the big deal?!”
For a show that’s usually about puffing up Hollywood’s ego amidst our obvious obsession with who was the worst dressed, rude, [insert the proper snarky comment]. “Do you really think he’s gay?” Oh and “did you hear that Edward Nortan doesn’t wear underwear to award shows? He’s so ballsy.” Yes, that pun was intended. I digress.
While award shows are usually a place to plug sound bites for upcoming projects, to get more Facebook likes on your fan page – or let’s face it, just be more superficially liked in general – this award show was a little different.
Different in what way? Let’s look closer at the awesome opening dual-monologue which Tina Fey and Amy Poehler delivered to many laughs, some more uncomfortable than others. One hilarious bit was about George Clooney’s highly accomplished new wife, Amal Alamuddin.
“George Clooney married Amal Alamuddin this year. Amal is a human rights lawyer who worked on the Enron case, was an adviser to Kofi Annan regarding Syria and was selected to a three- person U.N. commission investigating rules of war violations in the Gaza strip. So, tonight, her husband, is getting a lifetime achievement award.”
Wait – is Hollywood actually admitting that what they’re doing is not as important as, like, saving lives? Yes, Hollywood and the movie industry have a huge influence on culture and society, but at the end of the day, most of Hollywood’s elite are not working with Doctors Without Borders or even doctors in the states. Though many of them pretend to, which is basically…NOT the same thing at all. So at least for this one night, we as an audience were asked to reconsider the importance of Hollywood, especially with so much civil unrest around the world, and wake up a little. To take the lime light off of Hollywood to focus on the real issues going on around the globe. While our society puts a massive amount of focus on the industry, possibly to keep us all a little distracted from the much more important issues going on globally, tonight we were asked to pay attention.
Well, that’s not very funny is it? Infusing some humor, we allow ourselves to accept the truth that’s too painful or ugly to approach in any other form. So it was with an uncomfortable laugh at itself that Hollywood continued its night.
Also in the opening monologue: an all too truthful quip about Selma. Let me take a moment to talk about the film Selma, since a lot of people have not heard about it, It’s a film that chronicles the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches led by James Bevel, Hosea Williams and Martin Luther King Jr. It’s directed by Ava DuVernay. Shout out to women filmmakers! Not to mention I am a fan of her work. If you haven’t seen her film I Will Follow, check it out!
Back to Selma, it’s a shame more people didn’t go out to see this movie. Especially considering the current marches, protests that have erupted around the U.S. due to widespread police brutality and racial injustices. Just a few months ago a 129 mile march from Ferguson to the capital was organized by the NAACP. Which mirrored the 1960’s marches and protests. So, yeah, the film Selma may have a bit (A LOT) of cultural relevance right now. So when Tina Fey commented about Selma and the matches stating “…and that totally worked and now we have no more problems” it hits home a little harder. In January 2015 alone, there were over 60 marches across the U.S. Yes, last month. More than 60 marches. You read that right.
Quick side note, if you’re looking to get involved in any upcoming marches and/or protests check the website Fergusonresponse.com because there are over five dozen marches against racial injustice happening in one month. Yes, in 2015.
Awards as a Means of Reflecting and Projecting Change
Then the awards came and so did Maggie Gyllenhaal. Looking out at the audience and totally present, she begins:
“ I’ve noticed a lot of people talking about the wealth of roles for powerful women in television lately. And when I look around the room at the women who are here and I think about the performances that I’ve watched this year, what I see are actually women who are sometimes powerful and sometimes not, sometimes sexy and sometimes not, sometimes honorable, sometimes not. And what I think is new is the wealth of roles for actual women in television and film. That’s what I think is revolutionary and evolutionary, and it’s what’s turning me on.”
Yeah, well, it’s turning me on too. I am sure so many people reading this are thinking “Oh great, here comes another feminist rant.” This is not that [for the record, being a feminist just means believing that women should have equal rights to men. Why is that so scary? I digress again]. Maggie is saying it’s okay to not look pretty every second of the day, inside and outside of Hollywood. To be a sexual woman and not be labled a slut, to be weak, to be strong, to be complicated and a fucking human. And Hollywood has recently started mirroring this sentiment in its portrayal of women. It’s shifted in the last few years from not only the types of roles we see women in, but also the way women are portrayed specifically during sex.
Before, good women were expected to only enjoy sex as long as it had really soft lighting and was super gentle and vanilla. Men on the other hand could enjoy sex when it’s exploitative, rough, objectifying. If a woman was portrayed as a sexual being, it was at the mercy of a man – or because she was a manipulative slut. There are exceptions to this, of course. But, lets take our beloved Game of Thrones for instance: Most of the sex in that show is cheap titillation, directed at men. It objectifies women to pairs of jiggling tits for the most part. In direct contrast, a show like Outlander, the sexual titillation is directed at both women and men, acknowledging that women can be sexual and not slutty. Women can and are more than a virgin or a slut, a powerful executive or a housewife – be everything and anything in between.
Not even the Hollywood starlets under the thickest make-up that night could hide from the truth of Maggie’s words. Here is a real woman talking about actual real women that saying, “we are complicated and that’s human and okay.” That is profound. It’s the kind of thing that makes me excited to be a writer and entertainer in the 21st century. But the night didn’t stop there.
The Golden Globes Go Online
One quick observation: there are several shows in the “TV” category of the Golden Globes that are actually only released on the internet: Orange is the New Black (Netflix), Transparent (Amazon), and House of Cards (Netflix). I know this has been happening for a few years, but did we ever stop to think: “Wow! That’s revolutionary and NOBODY IS TALKING ABOUT IT?”
We literally have a new industry in Hollywood that is exclusively online. Meaning that in the future, a web series on YouTube channel may be up for an award at the Golden Globes. Or they may have to add a category. This is a sign of a huge shift in the traditional model of dominating studios and TV networks. One other side note: none of the films nominated for best picture were produced by a studio; they were all independently produced. Granted, some of those production companies are HUGE, but still it’s worth noting.
Moving right along to Transparent. An amazingly honest show about a transgender man in the wake of him coming out to his family. Not only did it win best musical or comedy series, but the lead actor Jeffery Tambor took the golden globe for best male actor in a musical or comedy series.
“This is about changing peoples lives. This is about freedom.”
In a country that still has states where gay marriage is illegal I think this award choice is pretty significant.
When the creator of the show Jill Soloway accepted her award, she dedicated it to Leelah Alcorn, a transgender teen who recently committed suicide because she didn’t feel accepted. This win is a great first step towards people expressing the truth even if it makes them uncomfortable, self-reflective and – heaven forbid – having to change their dogmatic beliefs.
Moving on to Gina Rodriguez in “Jane the Virgin”. [Side note: I may skip around trying to get all my “Holy-wow moment” out before I forget them.] So, Gina got up and said:
“this award is so much more than myself. It represents a culture that wants to see themselves as heroes.”
She’s referring to the Latino culture and its relevance in the United States. She’s asking the industry to create more diverse roles and casting choices so we are not exclusively seeing the typical mold of roles given to just another white male or female. She is calling for us to break down our internal stereotypes and be more open to the diverse world we live in. Again I was just struck by the unapologetic honesty and insight. I found myself clapping while watching the awards… alone in my room.
Then we had Joanne Froggatt who won her globe for her role on Downton Abby where her character endured rape and then was wrongfully accused of murdering her attacker. She spoke on the matter “After the storyline aired, I received a lot of letters from survivors of rape. Thank you to everyone who wrote – I heard you.”
A subject matter that carries a very shameful past. In a world where 1 in 3 women will be victims of sexual harassment or assault, many of those women will not report the crime either because of fear or tarnishing their reputation. Whether out of fear of being the perpetrated or shame, it’s a hard subject to tackle and one we still hold taboo. And, there it was, at the Golden Globes out in the open. And again I am so glad to be a female writer at this time in Hollywood.
Then the ever so charming Billy Bob Thorton who won for “Fargo” came up and said: “These days, you get into a lot of trouble for anything you say. So, I’m just going to say thank you…”
Whether a comment on the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack in Paris, the Sony hack or a reference his checkered past – it stood out. And echoing his sentiment in a humorous fashion, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler had a “North Korean representative”come in. Margaret Cho, dressed up as a North Korean member of the HFPA, took a selfie with Meryl Streep and was there to “keep everyone in line. While gandering a few laughs, it was a little too true in the wake of what’s really a global issue: Free speech. On that more serious note, Hollywood Foreign Press Association president Theo Kingma went on stage and proclaimed:
“The freedom of artistic expression…is a beacon across the globe. We stand united everywhere, from North Korea to Paris.”
Truly powerful words that were supported by George Clooney, Kathy Bates and Helen Mirren who wore “Je Suis Charlie” buttons as a sign of solidarity with the people killed in the Paris terrorist attacks. And later on during George Clooney’s acceptance of his Cecil B. DeMillie Award for lifetime achievement award, he said of the Charlie Hebdo massacre and the marches that followed: “They didn’t walk in protest. They marched in support of the idea that we will not walk in fear.”
There were many more magical, thought-provoking speeches throughout the night, which is why I highly recommend you take a look. But, one thing’s for sure:
For a bunch of make-believers and pretenders, it was a night of fearless, brutally beautiful, unapologetic truth.