Vetern sitcom writer Ken Levine lights into the Golden Globes in a post on his blog, accusing the Hollywood Foreign Press Association of “sacrificing your biggest asset for the sake of a rating point.” Levine, who won an Emmy for his work on “Cheers” and was nominated five more times in a career that also includes long stints on “M*A*S*H” and “Frasier,” is the latest to attack Sunday night’s Globes, which were long, disorganized, and peppered with childishly offensive jokes by host Ricky Gervais. But his words carry extra weight, coming as they do from an industry that continues to court the HFPA and its dubious accolades in the hopes that they’ll pave the way for meaningful awards.
“Award shows are supposed to be elegant,” Levine writes. “They’re supposed to be glamorous. Or at least present the pretense of glamour…. You let your host shit all over you. And that’s just for starters.”
Levine goes on to address the widespread perception that the Globes are openly for sale, which even some of Sunday’s winners came close to admitting. During the ceremony, I was contacted several times by a well-known actor who felt that some of the recipients looked just a little too prepared to win their awards, as if they’d been tipped off in advance. That doesn’t mean they were, of course, but it at least speaks to the nagging suspicion within the industry that the Globes aren’t worth whatever gold-like substance they’re made of.
Even with the ratings down, the broadcast has power, furnishing a platform for America Ferrara and Eva Longoria’s sharp-edged bit about Latina actresses being mistaken for one another, or last year’s moving acceptance speech by “Jane the Virgin’s” Gina Rodriguez. But even that, Levine warns, can be eroded if the audience gets wind that even the Globes’ winners don’t respect them. As Levine writes:
It doesn’t stick in your craw that you’re throwing this lavish party for an industry that has little regard for you? If anything, they’re using you. They’re using you to help generate buzz for the Oscars (the only movie award that does still mean anything to Hollywood), help promote their TV shows, get national exposure, and enjoy a lot of champagne and swag on your dime. And for that disrespect you’re HONORING them.
Do you think for one minute the Motion Picture Academy will invite Mel Gibson to be a presenter this year?
I love seeing self-important Hollywood assholes skewered as much as the next guy. And if this were a Friar’s Club Roast I’d beg Ricky Gervais to be the host. But it’s not. It’s your organization’s shining moment.
Now you could point to the small uptick in ratings and say you’re doing the right thing and people think this is all a big joke anyway so who cares how you look? If anything, you’re good sports. You’re the nerd in high school who does the cute girl’s homework while she sleeps with someone else, but hey, you get to sit next to her in Geometry.
Or you could make efforts to re-claim a semblance of respectability by re-thinking your approach. Do you consider your awards important? Okay… not important, no one actually thinks that, but let’s say “worth something?” Harder to get than a People’s Choice Award.
There is a line that can be drawn. You can needle without being offensive. You can poke holes in pretense while still maintaining dignity. Tina Fey & Amy Poehler proved that three years running. You can cut off some winner who tells you to go fuck yourself when he wants to continue a long pointless speech. It’s YOUR show. (That will put an end to that practice and trust me, your home audience will be saying “thank you!”). Don’t give THE MARTIAN the award for Best Comedy over TRAINWRECK and SPY — two ACTUAL COMEDIES. And don’t nominate people for their sheer publicity value. Or let your host set a beer on the podium.
Actors will still make whopper faux pas. Some will still dress like Carmen Miranda. Every acceptance speech will have the following words: “Journey” “Artist” and “You can go to bed now.” All that entertainment value will be there. We’ll be talking about the fuck ups the next morning. That’s all there. But if all of that is framed in the semblance of dignity, I think the show will carry more weight. Or at least some weight. Your ratings are not going to go down if people don’t think your organization and awards are a big goof. And who knows? You might even get some legitimate respect in the industry. You’re right. I’m pushing it. But they might take ten minutes to prepare a speech when you honor them for lifetime achievement.