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The Golden Globes: Faces of Change?

ByFrankie Salvini

Jan 17, 2019

The 76th Globes Awards kickstarted this year’s awards ceremonies with its usual show of glamour and extravagance. Broadcast last Sunday, this year the event was co-hosted by Andy Samberg and Sandra Oh, the latter being the first woman of Asian descent ever to host the show. Oh’s opening monologue was emotional, heartfelt and spoke of the changes occurring across Hollywood and the wider industry by making a nod to the “faces of change” and declaring the “moment is real.”

Oh’s opening thoughts were certainly reflected in the evening with many praising these “faces of change” that played a prominent role. Sandra Oh herself, a Canadian-Korean, won ‘Best Actress in a TV Drama’ for her outstanding performance in Killing Eve and was the first Asian woman to do so in nearly 40 years. Equally, the Egyptian-American actor Rami Malek, winning ‘Best Actor in a Drama Motion Picture’ for his portrayal of Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody rang a similar tone as did Darren Criss dedicating his ‘Best Actor in a Limited Series’ award to his Filipino mother who dreamed of making a life in America.

However, one has to question from a progressive point of view how much this Golden Globes was indeed a ‘real’ moment of ‘change.’ The producers of the Golden Globe Awards allegedly sought to de-emphasise the political aspect of this year’s broadcast after the focus last year on the Time’s Up and #MeToo campaigns. This in itself brings into question the supposedly ‘forward-thinking’ movement of the entertainment industry when political activism is being supposedly pushed onto the back bench. These issues under scrutiny were only highlighted further by the award for ‘Best Motion Picture – Drama’ being awarded to Bohemian Rhapsody, thereby awarding Bryan Singer who was in fact dropped as director shortly before the film wrapped up production after reportedly clashing with Malek on set, and who has a history of sexual assault allegations hanging over him.

The fact that this accolade was bestowed the same evening as winner Regina King pledged all the films she would produce in the next two years would be 50% woman is too much of a contrast to ignore. Equally, the fact that Sandra Oh presented such a moving declaration of change for women of her ethnic background, yet Crazy Rich Asians (which received much support for authentic ethnic minority group casting) received nothing on the night is of a similar contrast.

There is no doubt there was change at the Golden Globes — this was really the theme of the night despite the producers’ wishes to keep political activism at bay.

However, equally, the theme of the night was really how far they still have to go. In an industry still clouded by recent sexual assault cases, most publicly those involving Harvey Weinstein, and with ‘white washing’ accusations still rife, the Golden Globes was by no means a conclusion to the scandals the industry attracts. These “faces of change” are undoubtedly appearing but still widely hidden by an industry unfortunately unable to move forward to complete diversity.

Image: Canadian Film Centre via Wikimedia Commons. 

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