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Is it fair to still care about award ceremonies?

I have to admit, as someone who is quite invested in movies and fashion, one of my guilty pleasures is always seeing who takes home the ‘Best Picture’ prize at the Academy Awards, or which designs are featured on the red carpet. I’m not quite at the level where I stay up until four in the morning to watch the Oscars, but I will, without fail, google the winners the next day. 

It has been a couple of years since I engaged with the Golden Globes ceremony due to the ignorance of the Hollywood Foreign Press. However, in June of last year, the HFPA was dissolved, and the Golden Globes were sold to Eldridge Industries and Dick Clark Production.  The collapse of the HPFA and the consequential sale of the Golden Globes wasn’t exactly a shocking move for anyone aware of its objectionable history which has been especially highlighted in the past four years. 2022 saw NBC cancel the TV production after reports came to light of the extreme lack of diversity and the expulsion of the ex-president over the sharing of a racist article via email. Just a year earlier, ‘‘The Times’’ reported that out of the odd ninety members of the HFPA, not one was from the BAME community. This led to the inclusion of thirteen black members in 2021 after it was, rightfully, put under intense scrutiny. But many called this act out for what it was – tokenism. I thought that the selling of the ‘brand’ might allow for a reappraisal of its spoiled past and a new future for the company. Yet, after watching clips from this year’s ceremony, its fate seems clear to me. I’m not sure why I thought a new billionaire buying the company might give it a new lease on life, but this year’s show further proved it should follow in its founder’s footsteps and disband.

The opening monologue from the presenter, American ‘comedian’ Jo Koy, certainly set the tone for the rest of the evening. During his six-minute speech, he managed to make several misogynistic jabs which left the attendees and viewers across the world less than impressed. His first sneer of the night was to the Barbie movie: ‘Oppenheimer is based on a 721-page, Pulitzer Prize-winning book about the Manhattan Project. And Barbie is based on a plastic doll with big boobies.’ The camera turned around the room as we saw the faces of stars such as Greta Gerwig, Ryan Gosling, and Selena Gomez fall in disgust. But he wasn’t finished there! Later in his monologue, he turned his attention to Taylor Swift ‘joking’ that: ‘The big difference between the Golden Globes and the NFL? On the Golden Globes, we have fewer camera shots of Taylor Swift.’ To which she responded similarly to the rest of the crowd – a blank stare and a straight face.

What’s confusing to me is that the speech would have had to go through multiple checks to ensure those higher up were happy with what was said. So, either every person involved was casually misogynistic, or were being provocative for the sake of increased publicity. Ultimately, the jokes felt cheap, especially considering Barbie’s feminist message. In a post ‘Me Too’ and Harvey Weinstein world, there has been a sense that Hollywood might change:  it felt like actors and companies alike were no longer going to stand for misogyny. I suppose, the reactions of the audience proved that true – but if those in power are still accepting these types of ‘jokes’ on global television, one must ask whether much progress has truly been made at all.

Perhaps more controversially, I have an issue with Christopher Nolan’s ‘’Oppenheimer’’ winning the majority of the awards, especially the ‘Best Film – drama’ category. Whilst I wouldn’t consider myself a ‘war film’ type of person, ‘’Oppenheimer’’’s success drove me to my local Picturehouse in the hope I would be proven wrong.  After seeing the biopic, I can genuinely say it would’ve been my last choice to win compared with the other films in its category. Justine Triste’s ‘’Anatomy of a Fall’’ offers an impeccable ‘courtroom drama’ that cleverly explores relationships, subjectivity, and the treatment of women in the legal system. Celine Song’s directorial debut ‘Past Lives’ is an equally beautiful, tender study of identity, memory, and lost love. Yet both missed out to a film about a white man who made a bomb that was responsible for the death of an estimated 200,000 Japanese civilians., All three films are rated equally as well; ‘Past Lives’ and ‘An Anatomy of a Fall’ both scored a 96% rating on ‘’Rotten Tomatoes’’, whilst ‘’Oppenheimer’’ scored 93%. ‘Past Lives’ further pipped both ‘Oppenheimer’ and ‘Anatomy’ for the five stars in ‘’The Guardian’’. Ratings aside, Song and Triste’s movies possess something much more important than Nolan’s – diversity.

‘Oppenheimer’ was so lacking in diversity it almost didn’t qualify for an Academy Award due to their guidelines. It also failed to pass the ‘Bechdel Test’, and the screentime of one of the two prominent female characters in the film, ‘Tatlock’ (Florence Pugh), is largely confined to having sex and mental disrepair. As Nolan’s filmography has made clear, he doesn’t really ‘do’ women characters. If you need further convincing, Oppenheimer conveniently excludes the government’s displacement of Hispanic and Indigenous families to create their ‘Los Almos’ lab. This whitewashed narrative allows the film to avoid questioning Oppenheimer’s moral responsibility. So,does it really make sense to award Oppenheimer the Golden Globes’ highest esteemed prize?Perhaps you might feel this topic is already benign; many don’t participate in celebrity gossip, pop culture, and award ceremonies. But a huge amount of people do engage in this content. Ultimately, the Golden Globes represents what much our society places considerable amounts of value on – which in the eyes of the elites is money, war, and men.

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