The Golden Globe awards are popcorn and candy floss; bread and circus for the masses still stunned from holiday comas.
It’s just fluff. Or is it?
This year, a seismic shift turned the tables on a creative community reeling from one announcement after another of powerful industry men being rooted out from their plush and seedy man caves.
Instead of rainbow gowns, women—actors and all their peeps—were wearing black for a movement they hope will open the gates to true equality in pay, in production, and so on.
Is it a true shift?
Wearing black is easy. Ditto a lapel pin. Real change comes with money.
Movie awards shows are usually fun for only two groups of television/ streaming viewers: those who have seen the films and have favourites to root for (that would be fangirl here) or those tuning in for the sheer pop culture pizazz of it all, hoping for the occasional pratfall or perky speech to keep them watching through the dreaded boring stretches.
Boredom wasn’t a factor last night: the show was popping with powerful speeches and an undercurrent of excitement that this writer, sitting on my couch here in the frozen North, felt right through the screen. Hot? These women were on fire, fuelled with purpose and no shortage of rage. They want the jobs, or as Frances McDormand quipped, “we’re here to work.” This was after scooping Best Actress for her sensational slam down of a performance in the excellent Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. The win adds to her trophy shelf: McDormand is one of an elite group of performers who have an Oscar, a Tony, and an Emmy. This doesn’t include numerous nominations, including six previous Golden Globe nods, and three Academy award nominations.
What she doesn’t have is Botox, plastic surgery, or hair dye. McDormand believes her face is a map of her life that she doesn’t want erased. If women truly get the equality they deserve in this business, will actors stop freezing their faces to fit a model of beauty insisted upon by a patriarchal studio system, one that is inbred with predators, public masturbaters and gropers?
What would happen if women ran the studios? We can only dream at this point but would we demand for smooth masks and nubile figure to dominate all the screens?
Will we see funds for emerging filmmakers open for all brackets of age, gender, and race?
Will we see women writing roles for other women? Roles for women without enhancements? Women who are beyond childrearing age that are not mothers, grandmothers, nuns, or royal figures?
Will we see theatre distributors (those still in business) taking chances on films starring women? Will women (that means you, readers) start voting with their wallets and attend screenings with purpose of films written and directed by women?
Number one movie last year was Star Wars. I am betting you or someone in your family helped that happen. Further down on the list at #68 was Lady Bird, written and directed by Greta Gerwig. Think of the titles that didn’t make the top 100. Or even close. The titles still waiting to be lit.
(and yes, I know Wonder Woman was a huge hit, coming in at #3 on that same box office tally, but it didn’t offer anything new for me to applaud. And yes, it was directed by a woman. But she didn’t do anything new with a very tired trope. Sorry, fans. You can start abusing me any time now. I just wasn’t wowed by the film. Fun, yes. Groundbreaking as the loud chorus has suggested? Nope.)
Television is a different story: we have seen massive changes in storylines and casting in the last decade. But what’s happening behind the scenes? Who are the people in the creative offices? Who makes up the crews?
I saw a lot of elation in those celebrated faces last night, and I applaud the activism and passion driving the #timesup campaign. On my various social media feeds, lots of supporters wearing black were busy posting their similar flags. There is just no way NOT to be excited.
Be excited. Time is indeed up. We need to start with hiring women of all colours, shapes, all ages and supporting them all the way to a place of leadership. Educating them first. Letting them tell their own stories. That would be a global #timesup, don’t you think?
I know one woman who starts there. She brought the house down last night.
One can make a speech with pretty words. Or one can deliver a barn burner in a room full of people who are paid handsomely (ok, the men at least) to make words on the page come alive. There is no way to outshine them. Oprah did anyway.
I’m looking at you, Oscar. There is just no way you can outdo this once-fluffy awards show. Unless you have Oprah.