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January 8 2018

Golden Globes Turns Serious Issue of Sexual Misconduct into Mere Fashion Statement

by Charlotte Hays

Sexual harassment and rape are such grave matters that perhaps it's just a good idea not to try to make a joke about them.

Seth Meyers, host of last night's 75th Golden Globes, didn't share this reservation. The New York Times describes how Meyers began last night: 

Seth Meyers, hosting the Globes, turned directly to what he called “the elephant not in the room” when he opened the NBC broadcast by saying, “Good evening, ladies and remaining gentlemen.”

“There’s a new era underway,” he continued, “and I can tell because it’s been years since a white man was this nervous in Hollywood.”

Mr. Meyers prompted the booing of Mr. Weinstein with a joke about the deaths section of the Oscars telecast. “Harvey Weinstein isn’t here tonight because, well, I’ve heard rumors that he’s crazy and difficult to work with,” Mr. Meyers said. “But don’t worry, he’ll be back in 20 years when he becomes the first person ever booed during the ‘In Memoriam.’”

Harvey Weinstein's transgressions were sufficiently horrible that I don't care if his feelings got hurt. Still, a "joke" about booing somebody after his death is decidedly lacking in humor.

As for those rumors, well, undoubtedly many people in that room had heard those rumors and knew or suspected what was going on in Weinstein's shop. But Weinstein was a rich and powerful mogul so nobody lifted a finger to stop him and support women when it would have actually made a difference. That's Hollywood, folks.

As the New York Times points out, while "Three Billboards" and "Lady Bird" took the top awards, the #MeToo movement and what the newspaper called a "rousing" speech by Oprah Winfrey stole the show.  The Oprah speech made such an impression on the impressionable that she is being touted as our next president (it is breathlessly reported that boyfriend Stedman says Oprah would do it).

There were actually some terrific moments in Winfrey's speech, when she accepted the Cecil B. DeMille award. She talked about being inspired as a little girl when, sitting in her mother's kitchen, she watched on TV as Sidney Poitier was handed an Oscar. Poitier also won the DeMille award. Oprah said that she was aware that there were little girls watching last night who would be inspired by seeing her as the first black woman to receive the DeMille award. Aspirational is always good.

Then Winfrey thanked the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which sponsors the Golden Globes, and portrayed the press as being "under siege these days." Having a fight with Donald Trump does not mean the press is "under siege;" it merely means that the president doesn't like them and, unlike previous Republican presidents, will feud colorfully instead of merely flinching. If Trump were to try to use the apparatus of government to censor the press, that would mean they were under siege, and he's not going to do that because he's having too much fun fighting with the media. Criticizing the press interferes with no one's First Amendment rights, Oprah.

Winfrey added that "[the press'] insatiable dedication to uncovering absolute truths" is what "keeps us from turning a blind eye to corruption and to injustice." This is rich in that the Weinstein story had been lying around for years and none of the heroic press took it up until Ronan Farrow exposed it last year (he had to leave the insatiably dedicated to the truth NBC, which didn't want to go with the story, to do so).

Winfrey was moving on the women, many poor and powerless, who have in the past endured sexual harassment that they did not report because they were poor and needed their jobs. She semi-ruined this when she managed to turn the acknowledgement of thse anonymous women into praise for the elegantly black gowned crowd inside the ballroom. She said that "a new day is dawning" and that, when it daws, it will be because of "a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight." Yes, Hollywood still sees itself as our moral arbiter. Even if it waits to speak up until everybody is doing it--until, in short, it is almost a fashion statement.

Oprah was not alone in praising the moral superiority of our Hollywood betters. Frank Bruni of the New York Times, who covered the Golden Globes last night, claimed in his column this morning that the president of the United States had "outsourced" his moral authority to Hollywood, as shown by statements made last supporting diversity, decency, and women. Bruni wrote:

America is upside down and inside out. There's meaningless make-believe in the capital of politics. There's meaningful politics in the capital of make-believe.

Dear heavens. This means that, in Mr. Bruni's world view, self-serving statements by Hollywood stars are more meaningful than the achievement an economy that can boast the lowest black unemployment rate in years.

Hollywood is still the capital of make-believe and right now the entertainment industry is making believe that its moral authority has not been enormously damaged by years of silence on widespread sexual harassment and abuse within the industry.   

 

IIndependent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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