The Golden Globes slighted President Donald Trump in a very different way than past recent award shows: in jokes, introductions, and acceptance speeches. In fact, Hollywood figures refrained from directly naming him or even referencing him at all.
Save for a few jokes from Seth Meyers, the theme of the evening was on sexual abuse, harassment, discrimination, equality, and representation. There was no extended diatribe, a la Meryl Streep last year, on the current occupant of the White House, or even much that could taunt him.
The high point was Oprah Winfrey’s acceptance speech on receiving the Cecil B. DeMille award, in which she gave an eloquent, even soaring voice to the #MeToo movement.
“I want all the girls watching here and now to know that a new day is on the horizon,” she said, to cheers and then a standing ovation. “And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say ‘Me Too’ again.” Meyers riffed about the idea of Oprah running for president in 2020, kicking off the hashtag #Oprah2020 which quickly started trending on Twitter — and NBC was all in on the notion in a tweet that was later deleted. (“The tweet was sent out by a third party agency for NBC Entertainment in real time during the live broadcast,” said the network in a statement. “It is in reference to a joke made during the opening monologue and not meant to be a political statement.”)
Winfrey has in the past dismissed the idea of running, but her speech quickly ignited a new round of media what-ifs? Winfrey’s longtime partner, Stedman Graham, helped fuel speculation as he told a Los Angeles Times reporter that she would “absolutely” run for the White House.
Winfrey has plenty on plate at the moment — juggling her multiple roles as the head of her own network and production studio, as well as on-camera roles in projects like Disney’s “A Wrinkle in Time,” directed by her frequent collaborator Ava DuVernay, due in March.
The most self-critical moment of the night may have been what came right after Winfrey’s speech, when Natalie Portman, presenting the best director award, noted that they were all male nominees, a reference to just how few female helmers have been recognized in all of the industry’s major award shows.
Barbra Streisand, the only female to win a Globe for directing, followed up by saying, “Folks. Time’s up. We need more women directors, and we need more women to be nominated for best director.”
Ever outspoken in speeches and social media, she stayed away from partisanship.
There also were mentions of press freedoms — apt given the nominations for “The Post” — but again, there was no overt reference to the White House. “I value the press more than ever before,” Winfrey said, after the Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced $1 million contributions to two journalism organizations.
Trump and his supporters have in the past responded to award-show barbs and zingers aimed his way as yet another example of Hollywood elitism and even hypocrisy. At the Globes, presenters and honorees seemed to have a certain caution when it came to biting political comment, that a quip at the latest Trump tweet or “Fire and Fury” would seem trivial or tone deaf compared to the emerging #MeToo movement.
A number of winners talked of the hope that the Harvey Weinstein scandal and the fallout that followed would be the cultural moment that generates lasting change. Those in the room left little doubt that they plan to continue to use their platforms to push for it.
Catherine Zeta-Jones presented with her father-in-law, Kirk Douglas, now 101, and noted that he was instrumental in ending the blacklist. That was another dark moment in Hollywood that was followed by a long period of recovery and reconciliation.
Streisand, in presenting the final award of the night, expressed a sentiment that in the wake of all of the revelations of sexual misconduct and sexism, the industry was changing itself.
“I’m proud that our industry, faced with uncomfortable truths, has vowed to change the way we do business,” she said.