I Have Some Thoughts on the Golden Globes
I love award shows. This should not surprise you. They are an amalgamation of more than half of my leading interests: culture, criticism, cultural criticism, fashion (hayyy Diane Keaton), media, celebrities, Rihanna, hyper-stylized Instagram shots of red carpet happenings and afterparties DJ'd by Drake. They also provide fodder for judgment and gossip as well as at least 24 hours of common conversation. People look great, people win awards, people behave erratically. What isn't to like?
Well, many things actually. We tune into award shows for the visual appeal of beautiful women, but we stay to celebrate male accomplishments. The Hollywood award shows are often self-congratulatory circle jerks of old, rich white men who benefit from the labor of others. In other words, a microcosm of society. We watch as women are awarded best actress trophies for roles in which they were paid far less than the men they share the screen with. We watch as a number of men are awarded best actor trophies for roles where they spent much of their offscreen time wielding their power inappropriately. We watch as stories and stars that fit our culturally accepted narratives are praised for their heart and snappy scripts. We watch as a disproportionate number of white men traipse across the stage to accept the night's biggest honors for writing, directing and producing.
And until this year, we watched as attendees paraded themselves in silent complicity in front of a man who designed the modern awards season to curry to his favor while choosing to ignore what was happening behind the closed doors of those hotel rooms.
Sunday's Golden Globes were Hollywood's first public appearance in the wake of its reckoning. It was an attempt at activism where women, and some men, sought to reimagine a red carpet where every participant is valued solely on their objective talent.
I use the word attempt purposely.
There were a number of heartening moments throughout the show. Including but not limited to: the women of Big Little Lies and The Handmaid's Tale being awarded for their shows that portrays the reality of abuse and the power of women in numbers, the activists on the red carpet including Tarana Burke, Seth Myers acknowledging the absurdity that the HFPA chose a white, male host for this year's awards and working that absurdity into his monologue, Sterling K. Brown became the first black man to win a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a TV drama for his role in This is Us, Frances McDormand accepting an award for an angry mother seeking justice for her murdered daughter while offering to buy tequila shots for all female attendees (at what one can only assume is an open bar) and also reminding us that woman are here for the work-nothing else, Natalie Portman and Barbara Streisand throwing some unbridled shade at the snubbing of female directors, Oprah.
And here are a few places where they lost me:
- James Franco wearing a Time's Up pin: Here is where I must admit that I have called Franco a babe on more than once occasion. Never would I call him a feminist, an advocate for women or empathetic to the existence of anyone who is not himself, his brother Dave or BFF Seth Rogen. He seems like one of those guys you knew in college who only wants to hang out with his boys and finds women useless until it's time to smash. So when he paraded on stage, Dave in tow, to accept his award for his portrayal of Tommy Wiseau in The Disaster Artist wearing a "Time's Up" pin, I was perplexed. Were they just handing these things out like Xanax bars backstage for anyone who was willing to don them? Was there no vetting process for distribution based on past behavior? He, of course, did not acknowledge the cause in his acceptance speech- and if he hadn't chosen to wear the pin, he wouldn't have had to. But, James, if you are making the choice to be feminist in your apparel it's implied you should also do so in your actions. To do otherwise is called hypocrisy. Apparently others also found his lapel decor confusing, five women have come forward to accuse Franco of sexual misconduct in the days since with one calling his choice to wear the pin "a slap in the face".
- Kirk Douglas: Kirk Douglas received a standing ovation after presenting the award for Best Screenplay with his daughter-in-law Catherine Zeta Jones. First of all, it was incredibly painful to watch the 101 year old Douglas attempt to form coherent sentences while Zeta Jones coddled him like a puppy. Secondly, Douglas was accused of violently raping Natalie Wood in a hotel room when she was sixteen years old. As published in Gawker in 2012, Douglas allegedly raped Wood, spit on her, and mocked her while she lay bleeding. There is no reason for me to believe these accusations are false, as Douglas was a powerful Hollywood heavyweight for much of the 20th century with a litany of harassment claims levied against him. The visual of Douglas receiving a standing ovation while standing next to the much younger, MUCH hotter Zeta Jones is proof of the strength of our selective memory. Here's how Twitter responded.
- All the Money in the World: Ridley Scott was celebrated, rightfully so, when he chose to replace Kevin Spacey with Christopher Plummer after Spacey was accused of assaulting a number of underage boys. This required the actors to reshoot scenes featuring Spacey over the holidays. Michelle Williams agreed to do so for around $1,000 in per diems over the course of the reshoot- or around $80 a day. Her co-star Mark Wahlberg was paid $1.5 million over the same period. Both actors are represented by William Morris Endeavor, who said today that Williams' contract did not stipulate payments for reshoots. However, the agency failed to tell Williams or her manager that they had negotiated the sizable bonus for Wahlberg nor did they offer her the same service (the fact that Wahlberg was moved to demand this payment while Williams offered to work for free is a classic example of gendered workplace dynamics). Just let this sink in- Michelle Williams, one of the greatest actors of our time, was working basically for free while an underwear model who made $68 million last year was raking in an exorbitant amount of money. This news was revealed Thursday morning, so it retroactively colored the celebration of the film at the Globes.
- When Ladybird won: When Ladybird won Best Movie (Musical or Comedy) the announcer welcomed Scott Rudin, the film's executive producer, to the stage to accept the award. To his credit, Rudin immediately stated that the only person who should speak on behalf of Ladybird is Greta Gerwig. Right, Because it is HER FUCKING MOVIE. She lived it, imagined it, wrote it and directed it. Hers was the only name that should have been announced. There is no one really to blame here besides the systems and powers that be, but the sound of a man's name being called in conjunction with the celebration of a film focused on the complicated relationships between mothers and daughters really stung.
Essentially, I'm not sold Hollywood has done anything more than what it does best- tell a story. It was smart, visually stimulating spin to fill a room with beautiful people who promised to revolutionize their industry by starting to protect those it has historically exploited. You have to question why they waited for their industry's most powerful predator to fall to make this collective statement, and what would have happened last Sunday if he hadn't. However, the most important questions will arise after the curtain falls on the awards season after the Oscars air on March 4th: Will agents champion equal pay? Will harassers be held accountable no matter how powerful they may be? Will women be asked questions about what is inside their heads rather than what's on their bodies? Will dynamic, truthful roles be written for women of color? Will the Time's Up initiative have an impact that matches its hype?
The answers to these questions matter. For all of us. Whether you like it or not, celebrity is power because representation is power. What we see on our screens, big and small, affects how we see each other in reality. Hollywood has the opportunity to dictate a seismic shift in our culture. The world is watching how they handle it. Stay Tuned.
Related Links: All from the New York Times' series The New Red Carpet
Conflicting takes on whether the all black attire was actually complicity in the form of passive protest or a show of strength and empowerment. The red carpet has its own economy, but will it ever be the same? And Tanya Harding, a guest at the Golden Globes, would like her apology now.
And The Hollywood Reporter's profile of Ronan Farrow in which Farrow (and his mother) begins to explain how being Woody Allen's son primed him to investigate Harvey Weinstein. Its perfect title? The Hollywood Prince Who Torched the Castle
In this week's issue: No article reviews this week, as I am teetering on the edge of unemployment and am working hard not to fall from the ledge. Below you will find the worst in this week's immigration news, the best of what I read/ listened to in the past seven days, as well as a list of the five most feminist things I've consumed.
I. It's been a terrible week for immigrants. Here's a rundown.
- As our button bragging, degenerate, reality bending excuse for a president attempted to manipulate America into believing that he truly cared about saving DACA and the Dreamers it protects during a televised meeting, he insisted behind closed doors that we should no longer allow immigrants from "shithole countries" like Haiti and those in Africa and instead look for more applicants from countries like Norway (NOW are we ready to call him racist?).
- Federal immigration authorities raided 98 7-Eleven stores in 17 states, resulting in 21 arrests of undocumented workers and their employers.
- On Monday, the administration announced the end of protected status for 200,000 immigrants from El Salvador who fled the country after a civil war in the 1980s and a number of devastating earthquakes. Many Salvadorans have been living in America for their entire lives. They are being forced to return to a country entrenched in gang warfare and violence. Tuesday's episode of The Daily covers the dangerous conditions in the country and why the U.S. is largely responsible for them. El Salvador is now the 4th country whose immigrants have lost their protected status, the others being: Haiti, Sudan and Nicaragua.
II. A few things to keep you busy: The Week's Best
- I Started the Media Men List, Moira Donegan, The Cut, January 10th, 2018: In a bombshell essay (that was a HUGELY powerful publishing play by The Cut), Donegan outs herself as the creator and original distributor of the now infamous "Shitty Media Men" Google Doc last October. Donegan's original intention was to keep a running record of the whisper network women in the media industry formed to protect themselves from men with histories of sexual misconduct. More than 70 men were named by anonymous sources and accused of everything from harassment to rape, with those who were accused more than once highlighted in red. The spreadsheet went viral after being exposed to the public in a Buzzfeed article. Donegan took it down after a number of threats and consequences, including losing her job. She outed herself before a Harper's article was slated to do it for her. Her essay is a powerful take on the #metoo moment and the naïveté of a woman who didn't think that empowering other women would end in her own professional demise:
"I thought the focus would be on the behavior described in the document, rather than on the document itself. It is hard to believe, in retrospect, that I really thought this. But I did."
Should Women Make Their Own Pop Music Canon? Wesley Morris, NYT Magazine, October 29th, 2017: This article, published in October, has been sitting in my Pocket for months. I finally got to it, and am so glad I did. Morris chronicles his quest to listen to more than 300 albums made by women in a row. He sets out on this journey after having the realization that most music released more than ten years ago that is still played in public spaces was made by men. He enumerates and evaluates albums by Janet Jackson, Stevie Nicks, Aretha Franklin and more as he crafts an argument for why women should have their own musical canon- largely because their music is not allowed the same longevity as that made by their male counterparts. The article's accompanying, 10 hour playlist is on Spotify.
You're Most Likely to Do Something Extreme Right Before You Turn 30... or 40, or 50... or 60..., Daniel H. Pink, The Atlantic, January 5th, 2018: Particularly relevant to me this week as I just quit my job at the age of 29 to start a new career. The article uses psychological evidence to disprove the myth that we are most likely to take a major life risk in the years ending in 0 and explain why we are more courageous in the last year of each decade. Sample stat: "Nine-enders", those whose age ends in a nine in any decade, make up an average of 48% of first time marathon runners.
- The Sexual Assault Epidemic No One Talks About, Joseph Shapiro, NPR, January 8th, 2018: People with intellectual disabilities are seven times more likely to be sexually abused than those that are not disabled. They are also more likely to be assaulted by someone they know during day time hours than any other group of people because they are often dependent on others for the most basic of life's functions and are not taken seriously by investigators. This article is the result of a year long NPR investigation of assaults on the intellectually disabled and includes the story of a pretty brave woman named Pauline who insisted her story should be told. The article also has a link to the audio from All Things Considered.
And what I've been listening to on repeat: Miguel's Criminal and City of Angels, The Pinkprint Deluxe, Nicki Minaj (If Alexis were an album...), B by Jaden Smith (this song speaks to me and it is unclear why), the old Rihanna/ Kanye/ Paul McCartney standby FourFiveSeconds, Sampha is back on work-flow shuffle and OF COURSE obsessing over Cardi and Bruno's Finesse remix.
III. List of the Week: Five sources of feminist inspiration
2018 has been a super feminist year for me thus far (which is really no different than the last 28 but...), almost everything I've been consuming is made by ladies, about ladies, for ladies. This singular consumption is in the spirit of solidarity and a quest for lifeboats in a sea of stressful situations- and mostly because the work these women produce is super fucking powerful. Here are five of my favorite quotations I've read this week:
- Warsan Shire's poetry, as read by Beyonce: The number of times I've seen the Lemonade film is alarming- it numbers in the 100s. I've watched it twice through just while writing this post. The poetic interludes at the beginning of each of the film's 11 chapters are the glue that holds this viscerally beautiful and emotional landscape together. They are both timeless and strikingly modern, in the way of the female experience. Here's a favorite and a link to Genius' annotation of the entire Lemonade script: "You find the black tube inside her beauty case/ where she keeps your father's old prison letters/ you desperately want to look like her/ you look nothing like your mother/ you look everything like your mother/ Film.STAR.beauty/ how to wear your mother's lipstick: you go to the bathroom to apply the lipstick/ somewhere no one can find you/ you wear the lipstick like she wears the disappointment on her face. Your mother is a woman/ and women like her cannot be contained."
- Hillary Clinton on emotional labor in What Happened: In one of the memoir's opening chapters, Hillary explains why she decided to go to the inauguration, juxtaposed with this anecdote: "I remember when Bill lost his reelection as Governor of Arkansas in 1980. He was so distraught at the outcome that I had to go to the hotel where the election night party was held to speak to his supporters on his behalf. For a good while afterward, he was so depressed that he practically couldn't get off the floor. That's not me. I keep going."
- Roxane Gay on taking control of her body in Hunger: "Losing control of my body was a matter of accretion. I began eating to change my body. I was willful in this. Some boys had destroyed me and I barely survived it. I knew I wouldn't be able to endure another violation, and so I ate because I thought that if my body became repulsive, I could keep men away. Even at that young age, I understood that to be fat was to be undesirable to men, to be beneath their contempt, and I already knew too much about their contempt. This is what most women are taught-that we should be slender and small....And most women know this, that we are supposed to disappear, but it's something that needs to be said, loudly, over and over again, so that we can resist surrendering to what is expected of us."
- Oprah Winfrey: "So I want all the girls watching here, now, to know that a new day is on the horizon! And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, 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."
- Cardi B, on Finesse: "Bossed up and I changed the game/It's my big Bronx boogie, got all them girls shook/ my big, fat ass got all them boys hooked/I went from dollar bills, now we poppin' rubber bands"
And finally, The Resistance has something for everyone:
My sister Lindsay sent me a text on Tuesday to let me know that she joined the Teton County Democrats of Wyoming while at a rally in Jackson Hole. This is a big deal. For one, she does not live in Teton County, Wyoming- she lives in Denver. And she wasn't always this politically motivated or willing to claim a party affiliation (we've always approached the world a lil' differently, as seen in the photo below). This administration's attack on public land has galvanized her, and is a step into activism for causes that don't affect her directly. I'm pumped.
Now to work on the rest of the fam.