Oprah strikes gold at the Golden Globes
Review — If you have read any of my columns from the past four years, you would know that I tend to talk about two things more often than not: Seth Meyers and feminism. On Sunday, Jan. 7, two of my favorite topics melded in perfect harmony: Seth Meyers hosted the 70th annual Golden Globes in Los Angeles. What distinguishes the Globes from other award shows is that they kick off the never-ending awards season, wherein Hollywood elites give themselves a pat on the back for all their hard work during the year. However, this year was more timely than all other award shows, because it was held during the aftermath of many Hollywood sexual misconduct and assault allegations, which particularly marred the careers of mogul Harvey Weinstein and other former Hollywood royalty. Artists in movies, television and theater started the “TIME’S UP” campaign on Jan. 1 to kick off a year in which they hope sexual assault will no longer be tolerated in the workplace. According to their GoFundMe page, “TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund will provide subsidized legal support to women and men who have experienced sexual harassment, assault, or abuse in the workplace and while in pursuit of their careers.” On the night of the Golden Globes, actors, actresses and their guests wore black to stand in solidarity with those who have endured sexual assault in the workplace.
Because of this underlying social current, there was a different vibe to the awards show than in others before it. Meyers opened up the Golden Globes with his signature jabs at our President and, of course, Weinstein.
However, he also concluded with this provocative statement: “And I know if you’re watching at home and you see everyone in their tuxedos and gowns, this looks like a room of privileged Hollywood elite — and that’s fair. Everyone in this room knows that Hollywood is so much more than that.
When you’re on a film set, you meet hairdressers and camera people and script supervisors; most of the jobs on film sets are jobs for people who work long, hard hours. They are American dream jobs ... People in this room worked really hard to get here, but it’s clear now more than ever before that the women had to work even harder. So thank you for all the amazing work that you’ve all done and continue to do. I look forward to you leading us into whatever comes next.”
That statement set the tone for the entire awards show. The audience knew that the public expected the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. However, Hollywood actors and actresses need to use their privilege in a way that can amplify the voices of those who are unable to speak up — during the awards season and beyond. This theme was present in most of the acceptance speeches. The exceptions were Gary Oldman and James Franco, because frankly, I could not keep track of what Oldman was saying and Franco was overshadowed by the man whom he portrayed in his film “The Disaster Artist,” Tommy Wiseau, who was invited on stage with Franco and attempted to make his own acceptance speech.
The piece de resistance of the evening can be summed up in one word: Oprah. Oprah Winfrey was awarded the Cecil B. DeMille Award for her achievements in the world of entertainment. Past award recipients include groundbreakers such as the first African-American recipient of an Oscar Sidney Poitier, Walt Disney, Alfred Hitchcock and, of course, Meryl Streep. However, Winfrey was the first African American female recipient and made that a point in her speech. Winfrey’s speech was nothing short of extraordinary as she discussed her awe in watching someone who looked like her, Poitier, receive his Academy Award and how she felt she had a duty to the little girls of America to let them know that someone who looked like them was able to achieve so much. Winfrey then discussed the movements for which she has been an outspoken advocate: “#MeToo” and “TIME’S UP!” Not only did she discuss the different types of women who are suffering today, but also brought up a lesser-known figure, Recy Taylor.
Taylor was abducted, raped and left on the side of the road in 1944 on the way home from church. Her story was reported to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People when Rosa Parks took on the case. Taylor recently died at age 98. Winfrey highlighted two stories that showed how much needs to change in the world we currently live in. She concluded her speech with a powerful phrase with her signature intonation, “A new day is on the horizon!”
A single article cannot do justice to the way Winfrey’s words made the entire room think and feel inspired. As a country, we have not collectively felt inspired in the year since we have gained a new president full of pessimistic and violent rhetoric. Winfrey’s speech caused many to speculate whether or not she would be a contender for the 2020 election! Whether Winfrey runs or not, she single-handedly changed the tone of a notoriously elitist event into something in which Hollywood can truly show to the foreign press that though our government has changed, our spirit has not.