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Monday, March 4, 2024
The Observer

Awareness at the Golden Globes

EMILY DANAHER | The Observer
EMILY DANAHER | The Observer
George Clooney is known as a prankster, the Sexiest Man Alive and, of course, an award-winning actor, but he’s also notorious in Hollywood for growing into his role as an activist. From speaking out for gender equality in the documentary “Half the Sky” to getting arrested for protesting in Sudan, Clooney has certainly established himself as a socially conscious celebrity.

It was fitting, then, that the 53-year-old actor was given the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement at the 2015 Golden Globes, as the awards as a whole seemed to take a more socially conscious turn this year.

Hosted by Amy Poehler and Tina Fey for their third and final year, the 72nd Golden Globes kicked off this Sunday with a jaw-dropping bang. The hilarious co-hosts and best friends started the night by calling the A-list crowd a “bunch of despicable, spoiled, minimally-talented brats.”

The comment set the stage for what seemed like the most self- and socially-aware award shows in recent history. Much of the program continued along this vein, with Ricky Gervais, a three-time former host of the awards himself, echoing Poehler and Fey’s opening lines by mocking celebrity's privilege, insisting that the famous live “above the law” and telling the crowd: “No one wants to see me insult any of you rich, beautiful, over-privileged celebrities.”

Turning a critical eye on Hollywood, Fey and Poehler also didn’t back away from commenting on the Bill Cosby scandal, finishing their opening monologue (dialogue?) with a bold bit about Cosby’s rape allegations. Though the joke’s tastefulness has been debated, there’s no question of whether the co-hosts shied away from not just controversial, but important issues in the film and television world.

Fey and Poehler continued to get laughs and hit hard with smart jokes about being women in Hollywood and pointing out the accomplishments of George Clooney’s remarkable lawyer and activist wife, Amal Alamuddin, while “her husband is getting the lifetime achievement award.”

Fey, who delivered the Amal joke, was met with applause as she laughed and said to Poehler, “So stupid.” Poehler replied only with the word “Hollywood.”

But while the show’s hosts and presenters cleverly took jabs at the vapidity of Hollywood, this year’s Golden Globe winners managed to shine a little light on the industry’s good side.

Several larger social issues were passionately spoken about at this year’s awards, one of which was the recent Charlie Hebdo attack. When accepting his lifetime achievement award, George Clooney called the marches after the attack “extraordinary.” Clooney ended his speech with a comment of solidarity, saying, “[They] didn’t march in protest; they marched in support of the idea that we will not walk in fear. We won’t do it. So, Je Suis Charlie.”

Other celebrities wore “Je Suis Charlie” pins on the red carpet, and nearly all in attendance stood to applaud Theo Kingma, president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., after his speech honoring the victims.

As more awards were announced, Golden Globe winners brought awareness of other issues to the stage, as actor Jeffrey Tambor did while accepting the award for Best Actor in a Comedy for his role as a trans woman in Amazon’s series “Transparent” and dedicated his award to the trans community.

After winning Best Song for “Glory” in the film “Selma,” Common, alongside fellow winner John Legend, used his acceptance speech to discuss the connections between the film and civil rights issues and police brutality occurring today.

When “Downton Abbey” star Joanna Frogatt accepted her award for Best Actress in a Series, Miniseries or TV Movie, she spoke out for victims of rape after portraying a victim of rape on the PBS series.

Matt Bomer won Best Actor in a in a Series, Miniseries or TV Movie for his role in “The Normal Heart,” a film about the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. When accepting his award, Bomer closed his speech by acknowledging victims of HIV/AIDS.

“To the generation that we lost, and the people we continue to lose to this disease, I just want to say, we love you. And we remember you,” Bomer said.

There were several other speeches and nominations that added to the air of social consciousness for the night, perhaps suggesting an improvement Hollywood’s portrayal of social issues and marginalized groups. And while the Golden Globe attendees and viewers got to laugh at the expense of celebrities in the room, it was refreshing to see those stars get on stage and give others a share of the spotlight.