Golden Globes Recap: Social Justice and Politics Were Front and Center

Golden Globes Recap: Social Justice and Politics Were Front and Center

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Tina Fey and Amy Poehler pulled out all the stops at Sunday's Golden Globe Awards. Photo: NBC
Tina Fey and Amy Poehler pulled out all the stops at Sunday’s Golden Globe Awards. Photo: NBC

The Golden Globes Sunday night felt like a show that was about more than just the usual glitz and glam.

It was Tina Fey and Amy Poehler’s last go around as hosts of the Golden Globe Awards and while lampooning Bill Cosby and utilizing Margaret Cho to poke fun at North Korea worked (kind of, it was hit and miss), overall there was a relative serious tone at this year’s Golden Globes.

Presenters and award winners used their time on camera to talk about important social issues which, depending upon how you view the show going in, could either be a good thing or a bad thing. If you are looking just to laugh and be entertained, critics have noted that the Golden Globes left a bit to be desired, but if you were looking for actors and actresses to use their time on camera to talk about more than just themselves and go above the usual fluff, this year’s show was just that.

Even Ricky Gervais, former roaster…err host of the Golden Globes, was restrained in his commentary as a presenter.

With our world being as interconnected as it is today and  for how quickly information travels, Hollywood (and the broader creative arts industry) has as large of an impact as it ever has had on social and political issues. Hollywood and the star power it possesses in many ways serve as a barometer for our social identity as a nation as much as our politicians who represent us do. These award shows in a way, despite not having the TV ratings they once had, are still a major platform for actors and actresses to speak their minds when they choose to do so.

George  Clooney and his wife Amal Alamuddin on the red carpet. Photo: HFPA
George Clooney and his wife Amal Alamuddin on the red carpet. Photo: HFPA

Last week’s terrorist attack on the French publication Charlie Hebdo was a center of commentary among many of the night’s presenters and honorees. The phrase “Je suis Charlie” was used by Cecil B. DeMille Award winner George Clooney who is no stranger to social and political activism himself. It was not surprising that he took on the issue. His wife Amal Alamuddin, who he recently married this year, is a heavy weight in the human rights and legal communities. As a side note, she looked amazing and outdid many of usual red carpet fashionistas while looking relatively bored at much of the fluff that is associated with it. I didn’t like it, I loved it. Actor Jared Leto and nominee Helen Mirren also paid tribute to Charlie Hebdo.

North Korea was an obvious topic and while not all of the jokes landed, there was a notable awareness of what happened at Sony regarding the movie, The Interview, and an attempt to laugh about it and move on from the crisis.

One of the largest winners of the night was Transparent with lead actor Jeffrey Tambor and show creator Jill Soloway leaving the evening as winners. They also left important messages and dedications to the transgender community. Tambor thanked and dedicated the award to the transgender community.

“Thank you for your courage, thank you for your inspiration, thank you for your patience and thank you for letting us be part of the change,” said Tambor.

Soloway made mention of Leelah Alcorn, a transgender youth, whose suicide made headlines due to the harmful ways in which her parents handled her coming out. Soloway dedicated the award to her “MaPa,” her parent who is transgender herself and was the inspiration for the show.

The Normal Heart's Matt Bomer thanked his husband and kids when he won at the Golden Globes. Photo: Getty Images
The Normal Heart’s Matt Bomer thanked his husband and kids when he won at the Golden Globes. Photo: Getty Images

Also, of note, Matt Bomer from The Normal Heart won for Best Supporting Actor in a TV movie. The critically acclaimed film puts on display the rise of the AIDS crisis in New York City between 1981 and 1984, and brought well deserved attention to a disease that has plagued to the LGBT community for decades.

Racial inequality was also a topic of discussion at the Golden Globes.  The Golden Globe for Best Original Song was awarded to John Legend and Common for their song “Glory” from the film Selma.

“The first day I stepped on the set of Selma I began to feel like this was bigger than a movie,” Common said during his acceptance speech. “As I got to know the people of the Civil Rights Movement, I realized I am the hopeful black woman who was denied her right to vote. I am the caring white supporter killed on the front lines of freedom. I am the unarmed black kid who maybe needed a hand, but instead was given a bullet. I am the two fallen police officers murdered in the line of duty. Selma has awakened my humanity.”

Other notable winners included Michael Keaton for his leading role in Birdman and Julianne Moore for her role in Still Alice, who portrays a professor suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Both delivered emotional speeches that were relatively apolitical, but were heartfelt and sincere.

For Hollywood, there have been occasions at award shows where the program is entertaining and funny, but nothing of substance is said regarding current social or political issues. In some of those instances, criticism has been laid at the feet of the Hollywood elite, accusing them of being self-involved and missing opportunities to use their privileged power to say something meaningful about the lives of everyday people. So, now on a night where social justice and politics pushed aside a bit of the entertainment value, there is criticism that it was too boring for some. It’s almost a catch 22 scenario for award shows. Finding the right balance is key, I suppose.

In this image released by NBC, Tiny Fey, from left, Margaret Cho, and Amy Poehler speak at the 72nd Annual Golden Globe Awards on Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. (AP Photo/NBC, Paul Drinkwater)
Tiny Fey, from left, Margaret Cho, and Amy Poehler speak at the 72nd Annual Golden Globe Awards on Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. AP Photo/NBC, Paul Drinkwater

While, I agree, it wasn’t Tina and Amy’s best showing and the show could have used a bit more humor and entertainment injected into the program, I would much prefer and take a night where celebrities used their two minutes on stage for something more than just patting each other on the back.

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