Hollywood’s sexual harassment scandal wasn’t the elephant in the room; it was the room. The 2018 Golden Globe Awards was the first major, televised Hollywood event in the wake of the #MeToo movement and following the incorporation of Time’s Up, the industry group created to support those who have experienced sexual harassment, assault, or abuse in the workplace.
As expected, the majority of attendees inside the Beverly Hilton ballroom wore black in support of Time’s Up, and to send a message that Hollywood is taking harassment issues seriously. It also was on the mind of Globes host Seth Meyers, who focused on Hollywood issues — rather than Washington politics — in his opening monologue.
Yes, Donald Trump was mentioned (how could he not be, especially since Trump, too, has been accused of heinous harassment and assault?), but the majority of Meyers’ sharpest jabs were reserved for the people in the room — well, actually, the people not in the room, because they have finally been shunned by Hollywood for their actions.
The highlight of the evening came when Oprah Winfrey, accepting the Cecil B. DeMille award, brought the house to its feet several times as she gave an electric speech about the power of hope, finding your voice, and for women speaking the truth.
“For too long women were not heard or believed if they dared speak truth to power,” she said. “But their time is up! A new day is on the way… a time when nobody has to say ‘me too’ again!”
Winfrey had more than one person in the room again expressing their dream that the mogul might run for president.
Immediately following Winfrey’s speech, it was quite awkward and noticeable that the next award, for best director in a film, contained only men as contenders.
“Here are the all-male nominees,” noted Natalie Portman while introducing the category.
At the top of the show, Meyers wasted no time, opening the show by greeting “ladies and remaining gentleman.” From there, he joked to big laughs from mentioning how in California, “marijuana is finally allowed and sexual harassment finally isn’t. There’s a new era underway. I can tell because it’s been this long since a white man has been nervous in Hollywood.”
The Globes audience, prepared for Meyers to take on the harassment issue with some bite, still groaned when Harvey Weinstein was mentioned — in particular, how he may have the first-ever “In Memoriam” boo “in 20 years.” Kevin Spacey and Woody Allen were also the targets of several jabs, but other accused Hollywood names were left off the table.
Several activists were invited to sit in the audience as part of a nod to the Time’s Up movement, and stars, writers, directors, producers, and executives were seen wearing “Time’s Up” pins on the Red Carpet and on stage.
Many of the TV winners also felt apropos given the mood, with big wins (including best drama) for “The Handmaid’s Tale,” the Hulu drama about a futuristic dystopia where women are marginalized; limited series winner “Big Little Lies,” which tackled assault and domestic abuse, and best comedy winner “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”
Winners including Laura Dern and Nicole Kidman utilized the platform to also champion the power of women. “I do believe and hope that we can effect change,” Kidman said.
And while picking up the statue for top limited series, Reese Witherspoon dedicated the show’s win to all women who had bravely spoken up over the past year. “We see you, we hear you, and we will tell your stories,” she said.
Backstage, the women of “Big Little Lies” noted that making stories with women at the center is not just the right thing to do — it’s good business, as also evidenced by the box office dominance in 2017 of female-centered films.
Witherspoon also noted that “the same people have been telling stories over and over again. That needs to change and it feels like it’s changing.”
Also celebrated at the award show were several legendary female artists, including Carol Burnett, who received a standing ovation while presenting an award, and Oprah Winfrey. The Globes also reunited “Thelma and Louise” icons Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon to pass out an award.
But this is an awards show, of course, and once the proceedings got going, the focus was almost entirely on the mission at hand. The Time’s Up movement was not mentioned as often as predicted, and the audience was not subdued at all but rather behaved like they typically do at the Globes: Talking, drinking, mulling around the ballroom and walking out to sneak a smoke — all while only occasionally paying attention to what’s happening on stage.
Besides Winfrey’s speech, the most impactful moment of the evening may have been just prior to the show, when “Will & Grace” star Debra Messing called out E! Entertainment — owned by NBCUniversal, which also produces and airs her show — for pay inequity.
But toward the end of the night, film actress winner Frances McDormand once again energized the crowd by first lauding the HFPA for managing “to elect a female president” and marveling at being “part of a tectonic shift in our industry’s power structure.”
“The women here tonight are not here for the food,” she said. “We are here for the work.”