Articles - January 2018

Oprah accepts the 2018 Cecil B. DeMille award at the Golden Globes

Advocacy Dominates the Start of the Awards Season

For decades, the Hollywood Golden Globe awards ceremony has been the boozy, lighthearted, star-studded opening event of the entertainment industry's annual awards season. Historically, it was just that kind of an evening; however, that's all in the past now.

This year's Golden Globes awards turned serious as a succession of beautiful women in black denounced a culture of sexual harassment by powerful men, and of pay inequality compared to their male counterparts. What had been for years been a fun, if occasionally slightly eccentric event had now been appropriated by female activists for a historic push-back against the treatment of women in show business.

The first hint that things would be different was the surprisingly wide response to the call that the women should wear black to demonstrate their support for the Time's Up movement which is dedicated to confronting abuse of power and promoting social and gender equality in the workplace. But far from making the event too somber, the result was "one of the most elegant, genuinely chic red carpets I've ever seen in Hollywood," according to New York Times fashion editor Vanessa Friedman.

All the leading couture houses managed to cope with the focused demand and there was no shortage of Armanis, Guccis, Oscar de la Rentas, Diors, Miuccia Pradas, and Versaces on the red carpet. And if nothing else, the evening demonstrated that Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, Dakota Johnson, Margot Robbie, Angelina Jolie, and other top female stars could be equally successful in projecting their respective personalities in black as in any other color.

The evening set the tone for other awards nights in the month of January and beyond, starting with the Critics' Choice and followed by the Producers' Guild awards, and the Screen Actors' Guild, reaching a climax on Oscar night in March.

The 2018 awards season became, in effect, the scene of a revolution with its origins in an unfolding narrative of flagrant abuse of numerous women by insensitive and entitled male executives and TV personalities who seemed to know no boundaries.

There were, however, some other more rectifiable complaints. For example, the talented Frances McDormand, best actress for her performance in the Golden Globes winning film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, reminded the audience that women were not there for the food, but "for the work." And, introducing the best directors category, Natalie Portman slyly announced "the all male nominees" to some gasps and laughter.

This was a reference to the fact that no female directors were nominated for the Golden Globes awards. Not that the nominated films – Dunkirk, The Shape of Water, etc. – didn't deserve the distinction. But according to a recent survey, in 2017 women comprised 11 percent of the directors working on the top grossing 250 movies.

At the Critics' Choice awards some days later, at which The Shape of Water won big (best picture, director, production design, score) color bloomed again on the red carpet, but the same issues dominated the evening. Presenter Olivia Munn called for a tongue-in-cheek toast to "the good guys," men who had behaved themselves in 2017.

The winds of change for certain continue to blow throughout the awards season. But whether or not this represents what McDormand called a "tectonic shift in our industry power structure," only time will tell.

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