The Golden Globes are always a mockery. Everyone knows that the Hollywood Foreign Press Correspondents Association is deeply corrupt. Members vote largely based on who pays them off. The HPCA is actually at the center of a lawsuit by a former publicist, who alleges that members sell media credentials to make a quick buck and accept bribes in exchange for nominations. Usually, that means that the HPCA nominates films that nobody has ever seen or heard of, and television shows that nobody has ever watched.
But sometimes the Globes are fun anyway. Last year, for example, Ricky Gervais brought new life to it by mocking the show itself — he took on celebrities repeatedly, making them deeply uncomfortable — which they deserve to be, since many of them are jerks. Yesterday, I was sitting with a friend at the Four Seasons in Los Angeles when Harvey Weinstein, last night’s big Golden Globe winner, sat at the table next to us. My friend smiled at him and said, “Congratulations.” Weinstein glared at him as though he’d just thrown up on his shoes, then muttered “Thanks.” Really, now. People like that deserve all the mockery they receive and then some. They’re not curing cancer, after all. Essentially, they’re our court jesters.
But this year’s Golden Globes reverted to form: celebrities fêting each other for their supposed great contributions to art and humanity (George Clooney praising Brad Pitt for all he does for humankind was particularly over the top); Ricky Gervais hamstrung from saying anything truly controversial (the closest he got was referencing Jodie Foster’s widely-assumed lesbianism); and, of course, penis jokes. Every other joke was a joke about a penis. #more#
The biggest laugh line of the night came from hack comedian Seth Rogen, who, while standing next to the luscious Kate Beckinsale, stated, “I’m Seth Rogen, and I am currently trying to conceal a massive erection.” Rogen was praised widely for this genius bit of comedy in the mainstream press. As everyone knows, only a genius — or every horny high school student in America — would make a joke about erections.
The supremely classy George Clooney joked about Michael Fassbender’s blunderbuss, which Fassbender had revealed in his new movie about sex addiction, appropriately titled Shame. “I would like to thank Michael Fassbender for taking over the frontal nude responsibility that I had,” Clooney said. “Really Michael, honestly, you can play golf like this with your hands behind your back. Go for it, man, do it!” Sheer hilarity ensued. Or not. (Later, backstage, Clooney would rip Mitt Romney over gay marriage — although, of course, President Obama has the exact same position on the issue.)
Then there was Ricky Gervais, reduced from skewering celebrities to skewering the size of his penis (an ugly image if ever there was one). Finally, Tina Fey and Jane Lynch explained how actors and actresses aren’t all that different from their real-life selves. “Matt LeBlanc is Matt LeBlanc,” said Fey. “And Hung’s Thomas Jane . . . really is a high-school coach,” replied Lynch. They then high-fived and shouted, “Yes! Penis joke!” Fey is widely considered the best female comedy writer on television. No wonder 30 Rock has swirled the toilet bowl for the last couple of years. As for Lynch — well, let’s just say her knowledge of the male anatomy is likely limited.
So, why the addiction to jokes about the male anatomy? Because it’s subversive without really being subversive. Nobody complains about such jokes except those benighted conservatives who oppose vulgarization of the culture — and who cares about them? Weirdly enough, phallic jokes are a way for Hollywood to up its liberal street cred — by acting like third-graders fascinated with their own genitalia. Which many of them are.
That’s why the Golden Globes better reflects Hollywood than the Oscars. At least the Oscars try harder to be mainstream. The Globes cater to celebs and their friends and lets us all take a peek into their world. What we see isn’t that pleasant: self-absorbed people drinking and making sex jokes while leering at each other, and handing awards to movies and TV shows that they think are sophisticated.