Wednesday 10 January 2018

What the men didn't say

At the 75th Golden Globe Awards, not one male award winner used their platform to mention the biggest story of the night. “Facing a sea of women wearing black, not one of the dozen-plus men who received an award seemed particularly compelled to note that anything about the night was different,” writes Sophie Gilbert in The Atlantic. Read on: 

The women of the 2018 Golden Globes collectively (almost) wore black. On the red carpet, many of them brought as their dates not husbands and partners, but activists for gender and racial equality. They talked about endemic sexual harassment in America and a sea change sparked by industry-shattering stories from The New York Times and The New Yorker about the abuse perpetrated for decades by Harvey Weinstein.

The men of the Golden Globes wore (some of them) Time’s Up pins. On the red carpet, they were asked less about Weinstein and #MeToo than about their work. They shifted uncomfortably when the actress Natalie Portman emphasized the “all-male” directing nominees in film. Accepting their awards, they thanked their mothers, their wives (in one case their wives and their girlfriends), their agents, the nation of Italy for its great food. The composer Alexandre Desplat observed that this award was a different color to the previous one he’d claimed. But, facing a sea of women wearing black, not one of the dozen-plus men who received an award seemed particularly compelled to note that anything about the night was different. For the men of the Golden Globes—with the exception of the host, Seth Meyers, who delivered a series of jokes skewering Weinstein—it was business as usual.

James Franco and Dave Franco pose after the former wins the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Drama for
'The Disaster Artist'
It was a notable disparity on an evening in which women had, for the first time in awards-show history, coordinated their color schemes to draw attention to similar imbalances in the entertainment industry and beyond. But the women of the Golden Globes didn’t just wear black—they also used, for the most part, their minutes on the public stage to talk thoughtfully and inclusively about sexual harassment and assault in America and around the world. Accepting the evening’s first trophy for her role playing a domestic-assault survivor in the HBO miniseries Big Little Lies, Nicole Kidman praised “the power of women” and talked about the scourge of abuse. “I do believe, and I hope, we can elicit change through the stories we tell and the way we tell them,” she said. It was a moment that set a tone for the evening: Subsequent winners from Laura Dern to Rachel Brosnahan to Elisabeth Moss to Oprah used their platforms to speak about the need for women’s voices to be heard. Many mentioned the Time’s Up campaign specifically, in a coordinated effort. But the subtext men seemed to hear was that women’s voices are the only ones that matter when it comes to advocating for change.

Alexander Skarsgård, who played the abuser of Kidman’s character in Big Little Lies, praised the “extraordinarily talented” group of women he had the privilege of working with on the show. He wore a Time’s Up pin on his lapel. But he said nothing about the themes of the evening, or even the themes of the show he’d just won an award for. Martin McDonagh, whose film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is about a grieving mother seeking public justice for the rape and murder of her daughter, also said nothing about how uncannily the topic of his award-winning work intersected with the state of Hollywood in its post-Weinstein moment. Bruce Miller, the executive producer of the Golden Globe–winning drama The Handmaid’s Tale, was the only male award-winner of the night who even alluded to #MeToo, stating, “To all the people in this room and this country and this world who do everything they can to stop The Handmaid’s Tale from becoming real, keep doing that.”

What this meant was that the 2018 Golden Globes split neatly into two very different ceremonies. In one, Laura Dern urged everyone in the room to support “restorative justice,” and to teach their children that “speaking out without the fear of retribution is our culture’s new North Star.” Frances McDormand spoke of “a tectonic shift” in the entertainment industry post-Weinstein. “Trust me, the women in this room tonight are not here for the food,” she said. “We are here for the work.” Barbra Streisand talked about being (still) the only woman to win a Golden Globe for directing. Salma Hayek, who wrote an extraordinarily powerful essay about her experiences with Harvey Weinstein, appeared onstage having brought Ashley Judd, another Weinstein accuser, to the ceremony as her date. Oprah Winfrey delivered one of the most rousing speeches in awards-show history, praising the women “fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say ‘me too’ again.”

In the other ceremony, awards were claimed and key figures were thanked without much sense at all that anything in Hollywood had changed. The actor James Franco, grinning, brought Tommy Wiseau to the stage while accepting an award for The Disaster Artist. The director Guillermo del Toro scolded the orchestra for trying to play him offstage. Gary Oldman quoted Churchill. McDonagh wished his mother a happy birthday. It was almost as if Harvey Weinstein, #MeToo, and the subsequent tsunami of accusations against powerful men in Hollywood and beyond had never happened. Women were largely left with the labor of explaining why wage parity matters, and why telling diverse stories matters, and why having more women and people of color occupying positions of power in all industries in America matters. (The actor Sterling K. Brown didn’t mention #MeToo, but he powerfully praised This Is Us’s creator, Dan Fogelman, for writing a role specifically “for a black man.”) The women were left to try and transform a pivotal moment for Hollywood from a painful scandal into a necessary reckoning. And as their male co-stars and directors and producers mostly made clear, they were—and they will be—doing all this by themselves.

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