Conservatives are frequent targets of the entertainment industry, labeled as heartless, cruel, and filled with avarice. Yet these accusations seem rather empty when Hollywood protects predators, or applauds their own for throwing tongue-in-cheek shoutouts to Satan. The unseen contradiction is both jarring and delicious, especially since I’m not resorting to hyperbole in saying so.
Sunday’s Golden Globes marked the opening of the two-month cycle of Hollywood awards celebrations, meaning we can count on a steady flow of activist commentary from our luminary betters in the coming weeks. Although the Globes have rightfully been described as less political this year, politics were still not entirely absent.
Staged by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the Globes ceremony lends itself to politicization. The HFPA is a cloistered group whose members hold dubious qualifications for the term “journalist,” and frequently make signaling decisions with their nominations and winners. Social activism is woven into the fabric of these awards.
This year, the ceremony had a decidedly regulated political tone. Hosts Andy Samberg and Sandra Oh delivered an opening monologue that was nearly quaint (they mentioned “race” and Samberg made a tepid joke about the Hollywood marathon causing traffic delays), and at times actually delivered some barbs at the industry.
The most pointed line was about the Dick Cheney biopic “Vice,” nominated for Best Comedy-Musical. Samberg joked the film invaded that category based on false intelligence.
The biggest upset of the night was in the main category of Best Picture-Drama. Coming into the awards, Bradley Cooper’s adaptation of “A Star Is Born” was the odds-on favorite. It was overlooked entirely, save for the Best Song award, and “Bohemian Rhapsody” took the top honor. But that film has its own baggage. The majority of the movie was made by director Bryan Singer, who was released from his duties very late in production.
Singer is enmeshed in a legal controversy about sexual predation with underage males. Fan reactions were consequently split on the film’s big win. Many believed it did not deserve recognition based on the sexual assault connection. Others were more supportive, noting that producers, and star Rami Malek (winner for Best Actor) all declined to note Singer’s extensive work on the project during their acceptance speeches. So some are upset at the inclusion, and others upset at the exclusion.
And no matter how intent producers were at eliding political subjects, the celebrities honored with trophies were not going to let their time elapse without grandstanding. Regina King and Glenn Close used their platform to make impassioned speeches on behalf of women.
That may not be considered wildly controversial, but as more of an extension of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements that were featured heavily throughout last year’s awards season. Close lamented that her mother subjugated her own dreams in deference to her father, and King pledged to do all she could to ensure gender parity in any future projects of which she will be a part.
When Patricia Clarkson won Best Supporting Actress in a TV Series for “Sharp Objects” she made a revealing comment about Hollywood. In thanking her director, Jean-Marc Vallee, she said of him, “You demanded everything of me— except sex. Which is exactly how it should be in our industry.” That line met healthy applause. This is a rather striking admission about how novel such a reality is, and how the industry is still rife with predatory activity. Yet celebrities still feel the need to lecture us on social propriety, even as their own home remains dysfunctional.
In accepting for “The Green Book” winning in the Best Motion Picture Comedy-Musical, director Peter Farrelly (of “Dumb And Dumber” fame) launched into an orchestra-defying speech on race: “We’re still living in divided times, maybe more so than ever.” A note here: His film on racial division was set about half a century ago. I dare say that our racial climate is far better over that timeframe.
Producer Brad Simpson spoke after his television series “The Assassination of Gianni Versace” won a Globe. Simpson, following the lead and not mentioning Donald Trump by name, still referenced the president. He mentioned “forces” which supposedly tell us to fear people who are different. “They tell us we should put walls around us,” he said in a thinly veiled jab, before mentioning “resist” numerous times. Hollywood power brokers are a very oppressed segment of society, we are left to assume.
Most oblivious, though, was Simpson referencing his own program, and then missing the point. He began with praise of the subject, Gianni Versace, and then passed off responsibility entirely. “He was one of the few public figures who was out during a time of intense hate and fear,” he said about the designer, before alluding to “those forces of hate and fear.” But Versace was murdered by Andrew Cunanan, a gay man who was a fixture within the gay community, so it’s unclear how that deems today’s “forces” as being culpable of something.
But the nadir of the Globes was reached when Christian Bale accepted his award for portraying former Vice President Dick Cheney in the agitprop film “Vice.” He thanked director Adam McKay for selecting him to portray a character who was “absolutely charisma-free and reviled by everybody.” He continued by mentioning that he would “be cornering the market for charisma-free a–holes. What do you think, Mitch McConnell next?”
But not content with those ditch-level digs, Bale mined further down, going so far as to thank Old Scratch himself for inspiring his performance. “Thank you to Satan for giving me inspiration on how to play this role,” the actor joked. Laughter and applause ensued. Because it was Dick Cheney, you see, a man who is the equivalent of The Prince Of Darkness— at least according to the Hollywood elites who have let the Harvey Weinsteins and Roman Polanskis of their realm prosper and rule.
Let’s just bear that in mind going forward. Anytime celebrities attempt to lecture us about how soulless, venal, and nefarious Republicans or conservatives are, remember when they seek out assistance in their acting jobs how many predators they’ve protected, and that the Devil is considered a trusted ally, even in jest. When it comes to invoking Satan himself, it’s all just in a day’s work for entertainers.