Sunday night’s 61st Annual Golden Globes showcased a number of fine movies and series, along with a smattering of less-than-stellar nominees. The Beverly Hills Hilton was filled with talented actors, writers, directors, and producers–most of them displaying class and poise. Unfortunately, the ceremony also showcased what has become a mainstay in the world of entertainment: Performers using acceptance-speech time for political pontificating.
The story of the night was undoubtedly the success of HBO’s Angels in America, one of a handful of nominees dealing with homosexuality, AIDS, and “transgendered” transitions. While accepting the award for best actress in a miniseries or TV movie for her role in Angels, Meryl Streep was, for the most part, eloquent and sincere. But she couldn’t leave it at that: She ended her speech with a swipe at the president’s State of the Union address. Streep blathered, “I just want to say that I don’t think the two biggest problems in America are that too many people want to commit their lives to one another until death do us part, and steroids in sports. I don’t think those are our two biggest problems.” It was neither the time nor the place.
And the show’s producers seemed to agree. Streep’s endnote changed the tone of the evening for the worse: Because of her misplaced political diatribe early in the show, other actors’ far more appropriate “thank yous” were subsequently cut short.
Of course, left-wing rants are commonplace at such events. Plenty of actors, singers, and other assorted “artists” choose award ceremonies–a time to celebrate artistic accomplishments–as the time to mount a soapbox and enlighten the benighted masses about their political views.
In truth, celebs have countless “speak out” opportunities at myriad benefits, TV appearances, and fundraising events. “Getting heard” is not their problem, so sullying an awards ceremony with politics is both inappropriate and unnecessary.
I’m of the MTV generation, so, appropriately, I first experienced the wailing-winner phenomenon at the 15th Annual MTV Video Music Awards back in 1998, when Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys accepted a lifetime achievement award for the group. Yauch flew into a tirade about racism in the United States, and condemned Americans for not understanding Muslims–apparently referring to U.S. missile attacks in the Sudan and Afghanistan in response to the bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa. The group was later touted by the press for their “mature and insightful” comments.
Hollywood couple Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins are also great proponents of the “catch-’em-while-you-can” philosophy of forcing their politics on viewers during awards shows (though both behaved Sunday night). And who could forget Michael Moore’s horrendous excuse for an Oscar speech when his Bowling for Columbine won best documentary last year? (“We live in a time where we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons. Whether it’s the fiction of duct tape or fiction of orange alerts we are against this war, Mr. Bush. Shame on you, Mr. Bush, shame on you. And any time you got the Pope and the Dixie Chicks against you, your time is up.”)
Refreshingly, not everyone chose the Streep route Sunday night. Take the lovely Charlize Theron. While accepting her well-deserved best-actress award for her role in the film Monster, Theron started off by saying how grateful she was, having worked her way up “from a farm in South Africa.” Monster certainly involves plenty of timely causes: homosexuality, the plight of death-row inmates, and women’s rights, to name a few. But instead of using the time to advance a political agenda, Theron graciously thanked the cast of the movie along with her family and entourage, proving how truly appreciative she was of having been recognized. The only problem was that darned cut-to-commercial music, stopping her short during what should have been her moment of glory. Theron, along with the rest of the disappointed audience, can thank Meryl Streep for that.
–Jane Jolis is a staffer at National Review.