Monday, January 8, 2018

All That is Gold

I managed about an hour or so of the Golden Globes and little was lost on me or it all was as frankly I found it interesting that clothing is now an expression of protest, well it beats ribbons, bracelets or writing stuff on one's hands.

But what was interesting was the sheer panels, the low decclotage and heavy jewelry does little to say "Fuck you men I have had enough!"  There were some chic prim dresses, particularly, ironically Elizabeth Moss of the Handmaids Tale brought cocktail sensibility to a grim message but kept it clean and beautiful.   Then my beloved Seth Myers tanked and frankly he had nowhere to go to make this work.  Not a person of color, not even a woman could be found to host apparently. Was Whoopi Goldberg busy?

Men were glaringly silent wearing the appropriate new marker of pins to lend support but none stood up and spoke out about the subject of gender equality, abuse and harassment.  Hard to speak up when you are hanging your head.

I am glad Oprah brought the message to forefront in the manner only Oprah can but again she sits in a safe seat of success and financial security. But I was surprised that  she in turn acknowledged that yes it was even a white man who gave her that break (although neglects the man whose style she copied - Phil Donahue).  So what does that say when you can admit that sometimes good people come in all sexes and colors and you have to trust them?  I am not sure the issue of trust is one even remotely mentioned in any of the current dialog. 

I do think that race was largely ignored and given last years #OscarSoWhite we have moved on from that and onto the next.  Gee as I said in the blog post, A Year Anew,  there is this Venn Diagram of life that overlaps the issues that parity, equality and work and life free from abuse crosses and yet we are too busy throwing bombs at everyone and anyone who is not perfectly suited to throw them.  Sorry but when Chappelle said that black men are not be accused by black woman as they feel they have enough problems to be bothered.  Apparently Dave did not get the news about Russell Simmons.  But then again getting the New York Times delivered on the farm could be a problem.

Which brings me to the new Time's Up organization.  I tried to understand that while their purpose is a positive one but it appears that they are largely just a fund raising outlet for already well established organizations that have been on this battle front for decades.  And yes they have a strong history,  I would like to see the process here on how they plan on finding individuals and bestowing grants on those deemed needed.  I have tried to work with similar orgs when I was in trouble but I got a wall,  a door and window slammed fully shut.  I have no desire to donate or give any money to any of the legal organizations in America as they pick and choose winners in manners that are unclear and transparency needs to be part of this.   You know if they did that with regards to wages for staff members across the spectrum one could audit why one is paid more over another.    So ladies good luck.

But as for the Globes, on the arms of Stars were pins but Activists from varying communities to bring attention to the issues that they feel relate to this issue.  But other than than moment I feel these will be  much like many past nominees, such as the former Cab driver nominated for his roll in the movie with Tom Hanks about the hijacked ship (see I don't even remember the name of the movie). Or  the French Actor in the film with the dog or the crazy Italian who made a comedy about the Holocaust?  Like many who light the screens  they may end up to be filed in the dust bin of Whatever Happened To?

I read this account among many from the show last night and while I don't agree with all the assessments of the movies and the awards, Richard Lawson makes a salient point.  Et tu Greta Gerwig or Jordan Peele? Makes the crack by Natalie Portman even more pointed.  But I saw Three Billboards and I loved it.  I felt it hit a nail on the head about how the Criminal Justice system picks and chooses that and those whom they feel they can.  The reality is that again women seeking Justice will hit that wall, that door and that window pretty fast when perceived as "difficult."  It was there I sat next to a man who also found himself the victim of criminal injustice and he was white so there you go.  Again the reality of the real is by far more complex than any film can ever tell you in 180 minutes.

The Award Season has just begun and frankly I am tuning off and finding books of real people who have real stories to tell - be they fiction or non - that is more interesting that the posing and posturing of the gilded elite.

Oprah Almost Saves the Day at the Golden Globes
The highlights and lowlights from the first awards show of a new era.

Richard Lawson
January 8, 2018 Vanity Fair

We’ve asked a lot of Oprah Winfrey over the years. And she’s given us a lot in return. So, at the dawn of a new year—following a really difficult one marked by horror and some rays of hard-won hope—we summoned her again, asking her to clarify and inspire and give us some kind of moral direction.

As ever, she delivered. Accepting the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Cecile B. DeMille award at the Golden Globe Awards tonight, Winfrey gave a long and impassioned speech about women standing up against patriarchy, citing Recy Taylor and Rosa Parks, her own mother, and the many women who have recently spoken out about the sexual harassment and abuse they’ve suffered in Hollywood and beyond.

It was exactly the kind of rousing, rumbling oratory the evening needed. As the first big awards show in the post-Weinstein reckoning era, the Globes were a bit of a test case, to see how Hollywood could celebrate itself while also acknowledging its many institutional ills, overlooked and abetted for so long. Reflected in the Globes’ mission tonight was a blurry vision of the rest of society, or at least the portion of society that cares and is paying attention to all this. What do we do now that it’s harder to ignore these problems, to minimize them into whispered anecdotes with no real weight of consequence?

Well, Winfrey offered something of a way through, clad in black like most of the women at the Globes tonight, telling the patriarchy—or at least outwardly abusive men, for the time being—that time was up. It was a benediction and a rallying cry—and, some half-jokingly hoped, maybe an early stump speech.

It was so good that it kind of felt like there didn’t need to be anything else. Followed immediately—why not go to commercial after Oprah, NBC??—by Natalie Portman, presenting best director, pointedly noting that all the nominees were men (whither Greta Gerwig?), Winfrey’s grand moment was so seismic and decisive and on-target that the rest of the show felt lacking, superfluous. And some of the results proved disappointing.

Most of the women winners—most prominently among them Nicole Kidman and Laura Dern for their performances in Big Little Lies, and Reese Witherspoon for her producing—spoke about the issues at hand when up on stage, many of them having brought women’s rights advocates who work outside of the film industry with them to the show, as a sign of solidarity and support. But the men were largely, dismayingly, unsurprisingly quiet about the movement—and the list of winners, especially in the film categories, seemed a bit ignorant of the realities pressing down on the ceremony and upon the rest of the country.

The trenchant, vital Get Out was only nominated in two categories, and it lost both. Daniel Kaluuya was denied best actor in a musical or comedy in favor of James Franco in The Disaster Artist, a perfectly pleasant real-life showbiz fable that felt entirely less necessary than Get Out—and Kaluuya’s urgent central performance. Get Out also fell short in the best musical or comedy category to Lady Bird, which was a worthy opponent. But an awards ceremony honoring 2017 films that doesn’t give anything to Get Out, a critical and commercial hit of piercing relevance—and doesn’t even nominate Jordan Peele’s screenplay or his sterling (debut!) direction—is not an awards ceremony that can be wholly saved or delivered by an Oprah sermon, however great it was.

Awards shows aren’t required to be anything but what they are. There’s an argument to be made that it’s silly to ask these voting bodies—especially the H.F.P.A., which is relatively tiny—to act as cultural correctors, to redress systemic wrongs. And certainly, yes, we should not be relying on the Globes or the Oscars to do much, if any, societal repair.

But then we get back around to the matter of visibility, and all this starts to feel important—just a little important—again. When art, by sheer dint of its existence, can, at its best, genuinely function as a tool of ennoblement, of resistance, as a bulwark against the noxious ooze pouring out of Washington, it’s frustrating to watch same old practices played out in the face of obvious opportunity to do something better.

Maybe I’m just mad that Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri won a whopping four awards. The film’s star, Frances McDormand—good old irascible, sensible, straight-talkin’ Frances McDormand—wasn’t a disheartening win. But to then see Sam Rockwell’s racist-with-a-heart-of-gold character rewarded, and writer-director Martin McDonagh’s seriously spotty screenplay win, and then the whole thing take best drama? That was unpleasant. Three Billboards certainly has its fans, but from a lot of angles, a straight white male’s sneaky apologia for his kind is not really the movie for this particular moment.

More broadly: are awards shows right for the moment, either? I’m not sure. The obvious highlights of Sunday’s broadcast aside, the Globes this year had trouble making much of a case for themselves. Host Seth Meyers did a fine job with a tricky assignment, one that probably shouldn’t have been given to him. He joked that no women wanted the job, but how sincere was that? A gag about how he has no power in Hollywood fell flat because it’s, well, absolutely not true, while a bit with Amy Poehler in the audience just made me want Meyers and Poehler to switch places. Meyers seemed to know that he maybe wasn’t the most worthy ambassador for the community just now, but there was also something smug in that knowing. He still agreed to do it, didn’t he?

Interestingly, Meyers was really the only person to heavily mention Donald Trump throughout the night, though the president’s stink still hung heavy in the air. He is, after all, essentially concomitant with all this talk of harassment, abuse, and other aggressive displays of male power leveraged against women, so perhaps there was no need to say his name outright. Maybe that was its own kind of statement, not giving him the satisfaction. He wasn’t watching, anyway; he was too busy sharing a New York Post writer’s e-mail address in a now-deleted tweet. But still, there was maybe some power, some bit of protest, in not calling him by his name.

We’ve got the Screen Actors Guild Awards in a couple weeks, and then the Oscar nominations, and then the weeks-long wait for the big show. It’s impossible to say what will have changed between now and then. But if the Globes were any indication, awards season is going to have a strange, charged, existentially troubled tone this year, which it almost certainly should. How that tone is grappled with, how it’s addressed in ways both concrete and abstract, will be the real test of the industry’s self-regard.

Tonight’s show was a decent enough first foray into a new enlightenment, I suppose. Sure, E!’s red carpet special was excruciating to watch, whiplashing terribly from genuinely exciting interviews with real-life activists standing alongside movie stars to witless mundanity, garishly worthless and out of step. Again, the men were too quiet, from Franco to Gary Oldman, whose own past is already being re-evaluated. And some of the H.F.P.A.’s choices were bad.

But, hey: there was still Sterling K. Brown’s strong speech after winning for best TV drama actor, a first for a black actor in the category. There was still splendidly prickly Natalie Portman, still Tracee Ellis Ross in a fabulous turban, still Rita Moreno riding around on a Rascal. And, of course, there was Oprah. Thank heavens there is Oprah, reminding us how nice it is to hear the right words, delivered in the right tone, at the right time. When so many of us are feeling so off, it’s awfully heartening to know that, hey, Oprah’s still on.

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