Art and Bias
All critics are biased. How someone reacts to a piece of art is inextricably linked to what they find funny, or sad, or poignant. To their values. To what makes them tick. Systemic unconscious bias is what has resulted in an entertainment industry run by and for men, in which (mostly) male critics commend movies and TV shows directed by men and acted by men. This is why “The Sopranos” was considered a seminal work of art while “Sex and the City” was dismissed as fluff. When the reviews came out for “Big Little Lies,” several critics dismissed the show, which is phenomenal, as a “domestic” (code for insignificant) piece not worth of our attention.
But not last night.
I thought about criticism and my own personal point of view and as I watched last night’s Golden Globe Awards. For this ceremony was hands-down my favorite Awards Show of all time. This Awards Show had me at Hello. This Awards Show put feminism front and center in a rousing, empowering and positive way. The night’s unabashed theme was You Go Girlfriend. Anyone not on this playbook – Gary Oldman’s perfectly conventional acceptance speech comes to mind – was kinda tone deaf.
Seth Meyers understood from the get-go that a white, straight, male host might not have been the best choice for host this year. His monolog was sharp, sensitive, and on-point. And then he got out of the way. Well done.
Were almost all about female empowerment. “The Handmaids Tale,” “Big Little Lies,” “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” and “Ladybird,” all unabashedly feminist works, won handily.
When Oprah Winfrey received the Cecille B. DeMille lifetime achievement award, I cried during the entire speech and when she brought the crowd to its feet, cheering wildly. And during Frances McDormand’s speech. And when Allison Janney mentioned that Tonya Harding – a victim of class discrimination if there ever was one – was in the room. And during Greta Gerwig’s speech. And when Reese Witherspoon encouraged women to be brave, to speak out.
Hollywood has been roiled. To everyone’s complete surprise, behavior that was discreetly tolerated in the past has brought down powerful men. Not so much in the White House, but that’s another story.
The Bigger Picture
And at least this year many people in Hollywood – Oprah in particular, but others as well – understand and called out that most women who are sexually harassed and assaulted are not movie stars. That most women suffer without the resources to fight back. And that, together, we have the power to effect change. A long time devotee of Awards Shows, I have never seen a show with such a unified and empowering message. Until last night.