The film industry’s gongs season is looming – but this year is less about the stars who win and more about the stars who protest
Golden Globes 2018: how will Hollywood handle its biggest scandal?
At the best of times, the Golden Globes bring joy and thrills to millions as we celebrate the artistic achievements of stars who have captured our hearts and imaginations during the past year in movies and television.
At the worst of times, the Golden Globes is Hollywood’s self-indulgent excuse for its first shindig of the year; a cash cow hosted by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, whose 90 or so members have little relevance as they hand out the trophies.
This year’s 75th anniversary ceremony, set to air worldwide from the International Ballroom of the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles tonight (5am on Monday in the UAE), calls for a new category altogether – the strangest of times.
This year, the trophies feel like an after-thought, or perhaps a free dessert, because we will all be watching to see how the entertainment industry will handle – or dare to joke about – the biggest showbiz scandal to rock the modern era.
It is hard to believe, but it has only been three months – on October 5 to be exact – since The New York Times first published a story detailing decades of allegations of sexual misconduct against now-disgraced film mogul Harvey Weinstein.
This was all it took for the dam of pent-up frustration to burst in Hollywood, spurring a tsunami of women (and men) to break their silence about the abuse they suffered – or how they believe their careers were stunted – at the lecherous hands of the rich, famous and powerful.
Their revelations swiftly battered the careers of stars from Kevin Spacey, Dustin Hoffman and Louis CK to Jeffrey Tambor, Jeremy Piven and even United States senator Al Franken (a former star of Saturday Night Live). Shock waves are still rippling outward, inflicting new collateral damage seemingly almost daily.
Add to this toxic brew to the ongoing antipathy towards US President Donald Trump by liberal-minded Hollywood and the so-called “fake news” media, and it is pretty much a given that Trump will also be an elephant in the ballroom, so to speak, for his many inappropriate remarks and fresh allegations of misconduct towards women in his orbit.
For Golden Globes producers, it will be a pressure cooker, as the who’s who of Tinseltown gather under one roof for the first time since the scandal broke, with more dark secrets no doubt yet to see the light of day.
Such a night demands nothing less than a host with a brilliant wit, a beguiling slyness, a knowing twinkle in his eyes and the whip-cracking skills of a ringmaster to tame this runaway circus.
A promotional video for this year’s bash reveals they are in the best of hands.
“Hi. I’m Seth Meyers. I’m hosting this year’s Golden Globes. And we’ve got... a lot... to talk about,” he says with comic timing and a sly allusion to the controversy.
The HFPA can thank its lucky stars that it has Meyers this year, of all years.
As host since 2014 of Late Night with Seth Meyers on NBC, he has wielded brilliant writing on political and controversial topics, particularly on his Closer Look segment.
His only peer, or perhaps rival, in this arena, is Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on HBO.
Prior to his talkie role, he tickled the keyboard as head writer during his time on Saturday Night Live (2001-2014) and hosted its Weekend Update news parody with a winning smile not usually found on such a skilled political attack dog.
It is unlikely that he will get the jitters this Sunday; it isn’t his first rodeo as a high-stakes host – he took the podium at the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards in 2014 and the hot seat at the televised White House Correspondents’ Dinner in 2011.
It would definitely be out of character for Meyers to shy away from a hullabaloo. In short, expect the 44-year-old to be fearless and unflappable as he addresses the Weinstein fallout, with bountiful zingers and stingers, within the bounds of respect for those who have reported abuse.
Expect the awards to take on a feminist tone in the #MeToo era, as well. Show organisers have already announced a female-friendly roster of presenters, including Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot and the only African-American woman ever to win a Best Actress Oscar, Halle Berry.
They will be joined on stage by the likes of Beauty and the Beast star Emma Watson, named a UN Goodwill Ambassador in 2014, prominent Scandal star Kerry Washington, American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson, acting grande dame Shirley MacLaine and Isabelle Huppert, last year’s winner of the Best Actress Golden Globe at the age of 63.
Yet if anyone can speak with gravitas on sexual misconduct and point the finger of shame with laser accuracy, it may well be the billionaire Oprah Winfrey, this year’s recipient of the Cecil B DeMille lifetime achievement Golden Globe, and for decades, a trusted, respected icon for American women, thanks to her daytime television show.
She follows in the footsteps of last year’s honoree Meryl Streep, who ruffled then-president-elect Trump’s feathers when she forcefully spoke out against him. Trump quickly derided the triple-Oscar-winning star – considered by many critics the greatest living actress – as “overrated”.
Don’t be surprised, either, if this year’s party looks at times like a widows’ convention, with actresses wearing black as a symbol of protest against misogyny.
Already on board for the dark garb are Streep, Jessica Chastain and Emma Stone. “All female actresses attending the Globes are protesting by just wearing black gowns,” one source told People magazine.
Some men – including Tom Hiddleston and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson – will also be wearing black as a sign of solidarity with their female peers, according to their stylist Ilaria Urbinati, who posted about the upcoming protest on Instagram.
How do the women feel about it?
The Daily Beast writer Erin Gloria Ryan summed it up with a sprinkle of sarcasm on Twitter recently: “I’m so inspired by men wearing black to the Golden Globes, an event to which they’d normally wear black tuxedos. It’s part of the storied man tradition of making the least possible effort but expecting credit anyway.”
Whether all this sartorial solidarity comes to pass, and to what degree, one thing is for certain: expect this year’s Golden Globes to be unlike any other.