Golden Globes Takes Serious Turn to Send Message on Creative Freedom

Golden Globes Champion Creative Freedom after Charlie Hebdo
Paul Drinkwater/NBC

The Golden Globes are usually known for drunken celebrity hijinks, but the 72nd telecast Jan. 11 at the Beverly Hilton took a more serious turn. Against the backdrop of grim news like the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks in Paris, the Sony hack and rape allegations against Bill Cosby, the Globes allowed Hollywood the chance to offer a collective hug to the TV-viewing audience. Even if the stars looked glamorous while chugging champagne on the red carpet, the onstage testimonials and mood inside the ballroom weren’t purely celebratory. Instead, the Globes sounded more like a political rally.

“The freedom of artistic expression … is a beacon across the globe,” said Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. president Theo Kingma. “We stand united everywhere, from North Korea to Paris.”

Amy Poehler and Tina Fey kicked off the show with an opening monologue that poked fun at North Korea’s opposition to the Sony Pictures comedy “The Interview,” which depicts a mock assassination of Kim Jong-un. They kept the gag up throughout the show, which didn’t draw many laughs even with the help of Margaret Cho dressed as a North Korean member of the HFPA who took a selfie with Meryl Streep.

Some of the evening’s guests, including George Clooney, Kathy Bates and Helen Mirren, wore “Je suis Charlie” buttons as a sign of solidarity with the people killed in the Paris terrorist attacks. Presenter Jared Leto extended his support in both English and French. Clooney, Hollywood’s most visible statesman, sounded his most presidential during the end of his speech for this year’s Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement. He spoke about the marches attended by millions of people around the world in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo massacre. “They didn’t march in protest,” Clooney said. “They marched in support of the idea that we will not walk in fear.”

Many other winners hit a similar political note. When Common accepted the best song award for “Selma,” he referenced Ferguson as well as the deaths of two New York police officers. Producer Jill Soloway dedicated her comedy series award for “Transparent” to Leelah Alcorn, the transgender teen who recently committed suicide because she didn’t feel accepted. And Matt Bomer, a supporting actor winner for HBO’s “The Normal Heart,” remembered the generation of men who lost their lives to AIDS.

Other awardees underscored the significance of TV as society’s mirror. Veteran character thesp Jeffrey Tambor, who won actor in comedy series for his role as a transgender woman in Amazon’s “Transparent,” emphasized the importance of lifting the veil on what it means to be transgender. Also dedicating his win to Alcorn, Tambor said: “This is about changing peoples’ lives. This is about freedom.”

“Jane the Virgin” winner Gina Rodriguez broke down in tears when expressing the importance of the CW show for Latinos, particularly young women.

Perhaps one of the bigger surprises of the night was a mini-sweep for FX’s “Fargo,” which won TV miniseries and lead actor. “These days, you get into a lot of trouble for anything you say,” noted outspoken actor Billy Bob Thornton. “So I’m just going to say thank you.”

But with everything happening in the world, most winners found it hard to stay silent.