There were two Golden Globes ceremonies last night. One where men went about their business as usual, answering inane and unobtrusive questions on the red carpet before proceeding inside to collect most of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s trophies. And then there was the other ceremony, coordinated by the Time’s Up initiative, that saw nearly every woman on the red carpet wearing black, with many of them trading out their husbands, partners and parents for dates with activists, to whom they gladly handed over their microphones when they were stopped by cameras and entertainment reporters. Michelle Williams brought Girls for Gender Equity director and #MeToo movement founder Tarana Burke. Amy Poehler brought Restaurant Opportunities Centers United co-founder Saru Jayaraman. Emma Watson brought Marai Larasi, director of Imkaan, a UK-based organization that supports Black women. Laura Dern brought Monica Ramirez, co-founder of the women’s farmworker activist organization, Alianza Nacional de Campesina. Meryl Streep brought Ai-jen Poo, director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, which represents 2.5 million nannies, house cleaners, and home care workers.
The sea of women in black dresses and the occasional tux was a stunning visual of solidarity, and it also forced red carpet hosts to ask why they were wearing black, as opposed to what designer they were wearing. Kerry Washington answered critics who thought women should have stayed home in protest by saying, “The reason we’re here, the reason we didn’t just stay home, is because we feel we shouldn’t have to sit out the night, give up our seats at the table, our voice in this industry because of bad behavior that wasn’t ours.”
“It’s our job right now, the time is now for us to do the work that will make women and all people more safe and more equal in their workplaces and in their lives,” echoed America Ferrera.
Debra Messing didn’t give E! a chance to ask her about her dress. When she stepped in front of the camera she did so to drag the network for the income inequality that caused Catt Sadler to leave E! in December. “We want diversity,” she told host Guiliana Rancic. “We want intersectional gender parity, we want equal pay. I was so shocked to hear that E! doesn’t believe in paying their female co-hosts the same as their male co-hosts.” She didn’t stop there: she said she wanted more diversity in Hollywood, in front of and behind the camera, especially with respect to women and people of color. And then she threw out an actual number: 50/50 by 2020.
It was a jarring speech on a surreal red carpet; I could feel the rage and power of the women gathered there buzzing through my TV. And it didn’t stop when everyone got inside. Men wore their pins and largely ignored the whole thing, but nearly every woman who took the stage used her time to allude to Harvey Weinstein and talk about the toxic, sexist, abusive culture of Hollywood — and the world, in general — and promise a new day is coming. Laura Dern spoke about restorative justice, and said it’s time to teach our children that “speaking out without the fear of retribution is our culture’s new North star.” Frances McDormand noted the “tectonic shift” in the industry. In her acceptance speech, Nicole Kidman said, “I do believe, and I hope, we can elicit change through the stories we tell and the way we tell them.”
Natalie Portman shocked the crowd the most, using her few seconds on stage as a presenter for Best Director to coldly say “and here are the all-male nominees” before stepping back, stone-faced, from the microphone.
All of these women set the stage for Oprah, who became the first Black women to win the Golden Globes’ Cecil B. DeMille award. She delivered a rousing, enchanting, unapologetic speech that wove other social justice movements around her lifetime of experiences and the experiences of other Black women in this country. Reading her words can’t do it justice; you have to watch it for yourself.
While the Time’s Up movement did contain and control much of the conversation at last night’s Golden Globes, and the internet is even buzzing with presidential speculation after Oprah’s speech, I’d be remiss not to talk about that first Golden Globes ceremony I mentioned, the one where, as usual, men and white people did take home most of the hardware, and where even the men who traded in their white shirts for black ones and donned pins on their lapels refused to actually speak up for the women in the room. They accepted their awards, thanked their agents and their casting directors, their wives and girlfriends, and walked off the stage with even more capital and power in Hollywood, and no plan to use that advantage to stand in solidarity with women. James Franco, specifically, gleefully accepted a Best Actor Award for The Disaster Artist that I think we all can agree should’ve gone to Daniel Kaluuya for Get Out. Seth Myers, yet another white male host, made jokes as if the room was comprised entirely of men who were not implicated as predators or harassers, that the reckoning was over and only good people remained. This was, we know, not the case.
Natalie Portman knocked the room on its heels, but the fact remains that the top three grossing films of 2017 starred women, and that one of those films — Wonder Woman — was also directed by a woman. And that Lady Bird won Best Comedy but Greta Gerwig didn’t even get a nod for the film she directed. Things are even worse for women of color directors. The Annenberg Inclusion Initiative recently found that only four black female directors have worked across the top 1,100 movies in the last ten years. Women can’t get the nominations if they can’t get the work, and even when they do get the work and prove themselves as both critical and commercial successes, that doesn’t mean they’ll get a chance to take home the trophies that men in their positions very obviously would.
And while it’s heartening that most of the women who did have a chance to speak used their voices to amplify the movement, it’s also important to note that nearly all of those women were white.
However, at the end of the night, it was Oprah whose voice carried the loudest: “I want all the girls watching here, now, to know that a new day is on the horizon! 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.”