On Golden Globes night, Hollywood preened in front of its black mirror as usual, but the degree to which it was blind to what was obvious to all observers was stranger than ever. It was like that time the pear-shaped Homer Simpson looked at his reflection and saw a torso rippling with musculature.
What was the most crystalline moment of self-unawareness?
Was it when Seth Meyers, a white guy like almost every Globes host before him, set up the first two introducers on the NBC broadcast by saying, “Please don’t be two white guys, please don’t be two white guys”? Or when the actress Connie Britton paraded around in a “Poverty is sexist” sweater that retails for $380? How about when James Franco, winning an award for his satiric portrayal of the shlock filmmaker Tommy Wiseau in The Disaster Artist, invited Wiseau up to the stage but then elbowed him aside when he dared to try to speak?
No, for me it was when the house rolled over for Oprah Winfrey, the nation’s most prominent retailer of quack medicine, the celebrity shill who made herself some $3 billion pitching supernatural wishful thinking and life-endangering crackpot pseudoscience to poor people and women, and NBC declared her our next president in a tweet. Oprah, friend to women and the oppressed, the coming anti-Trump? Say what you want about our president, but no one has linked him to a surge in whooping cough. Winfrey’s prominent place in the anti-vaccination movement is far more appalling than the behavior described in the Access Hollywood tape. If Trump kills, it’s only by tweet-induced apoplexy.
NBC, Oprah: The juxtaposition of those two brands is too perfect to pass without notice. If your memory stretches back even three months, you’ll recall that it was NBC that quashed a series of blockbuster scoops by its correspondent Ronan Farrow that, when he finally was forced to take them to The New Yorker, reported that Harvey Weinstein was a serial rapist. By coincidence, the president of NBC News, Noah Oppenheim, moonlights as a screenwriter who wrote Jackie — the kind of arty, Oscar-bait fare that Weinstein often produced and shepherded to Oscar glory (or at least Golden Globes semi-glory).
NBC’s late-night jokesters, Meyers included, were curiously slow to make jokes about Weinstein when the scandal initially broke October 5. Winfrey — whose kiss of Weinstein at a Globes-style awards show a couple of years ago went viral as she spoke, and who worked for Weinstein on his 2013 movie, Lee Daniels’s The Butler — appears also to have been used as starlet-bait by the reprehensible producer. Only via Hollyweird logic could she be cast as the anti-Weinstein or the anti-Trump: The world’s leading proponent of the concept “your truth,” a phrase she used again in her speech, is not the antidote to Trumpian deceit.
It was like The National Association of Knife-Safety Awards Presented by O. J. Simpson.
So the evening went: It was like The National Association of Knife-Safety Awards Presented by O. J. Simpson. Meyers, NBC, Winfrey, and the rest were not wrong to think that this is a teachable moment; the wonder of it is that in Hollywood, they still think they’re teaching us. Old habits, etc. When several actresses announced that each would be bringing as a guest a (left-wing) activist, most of these worthies seemed to be chosen to deflect attention from the mega-scandal. Emma Stone brought Billie Jean King, whom she portrayed in Battle of the Sexes. Is the Weinstein moment somehow about acceptance of lesbianism at Wimbledon? Amy Poehler brought a workplace-justice advocate for restaurant staffers, as though the problem were mainly down at Arby’s rather than on the sets of $170 million X-Men movies. Susan Sarandon, as only Susan Sarandon could, brought Rosa Clemente, “a revolutionary hip hop journalist and community organizer,” according to her website, and advocate for Puerto Rican independence.
We knew going in that the broadcast was going to amount to a chorus of the tone-deaf. Weeks ago Hollywood liberals announced their visual sop to the scandals was an agreement that everyone would wear black. Since black was already the single most popular fashion choice at the soirée anyway, this was a bit like sending around an imperative urging, “Prove your solidarity by wearing shoes.” The red-carpet vamping, that exercise in which beautiful women smilingly corkscrew their bodies to please photographers seeking to get their anteriors and posteriors in the same shot, clashed with the accompanying chatter about “intersectional gender parity” (Debra Messing).
Host Meyers, having mentioned Kevin Spacey and Harvey Weinstein by name, behaved as though denouncing these two had placed the whole rape circus in the past, then moved on to purchasing liberal indulgences by spending the rest of his act desperately trying to ingratiate himself with women, gays, and people of color. It was the Laff Lounge version of Weinstein’s promise to put any unpleasantness behind him and go after the real villains — the NRA and Trump. In fact, contra Meyers, the scandal is far from over. Indeed, it expanded during the show when Globe winner Franco was called out for unspecified misdeeds by actress Ally Sheedy, via Twitter, in remarks that were later deleted but whose spirit was seconded by others.
A defining head-spinner was the appearance by Elisabeth Moss, who won for The Handmaid’s Tale, a drama about an imaginary Christian-led theocratic dystopia where women dress alike to symbolize their oppression by conservative men. She accepted her Best Actress award dressed in black, like virtually all of the women present, to symbolize actual oppression by liberal Hollywood men. Then she gave a we-will-not-be-silenced speech even as she continues to belong to the restrictive Church of Scientology, which reportedly covered for an actor accused of rape.
When caught up in its most disturbing scandal since (at least) the Communist era, Hollywood’s rebuttal is exactly what Weinstein’s was: But we’re liberal!
In short, when caught up in its most disturbing scandal since (at least) the Communist era, Hollywood’s rebuttal is exactly what Weinstein’s was: But we’re liberal! It may not be the case that liberalism and sexual abuse are linked — though nearly all of the men caught up in the pervnado in the last 90 days are strongly identified with the Left. But it is certainly the case that impeccable liberal and Democratic-party credentials did nothing to save Hollywood from a decades-long regime of sexual tyranny. What’s wrong with the entertainment industry won’t be cured by the quack remedies of Oprah Winfrey.