So many of us tuned in this past Sunday night to catch the Golden Globe Awards. What we witnessed, in terms of how Hollywood portrayed the value of women, was riveting to watch. You have to know that I’m not writing about this spectacle because I’m a fan of celebrities and fashion. In fact, years ago, I pledged to never again summarize who I thought looked the best and the worst. True to my word, I’m still not sharing thoughts about that today. What I am about to lay down is a very big deal. Showing solidarity among women and supportive men, Hollywood took a massive step toward removing inequality on the red carpet.
This is a very big deal.
Hollywood, seen through the lens of the Golden Globe Awards, still looks like the elite crowd we know it is. Still, the #metoo movement made such a powerful cultural impression exactly because it involves so many in Hollywood. So, seeing nearly every woman turn out at the awards ceremony dressed in black provided a very powerful visual message. Plus, to add even more gravitas to the moment and the movement, men dressed supportively in all black.
This is what I think it means.
For one thing, seeing nearly everyone wearing the same color tone democratizes and unifies the movement. This visually uniform element was a huge step in removing inequality on the red carpet. Removing inequality on the red carpet isn’t about socioeconomic status. This is about how “we’re all in this together.” Not all women in attendance succumbed to physical, verbal, and psychological abuse from powerful men. And yet, everyone in attendance, women and men alike, were like one collective soul. In the end, the scene was a very powerful symbol that promotes social justice for those attending and those watching.
That said, there is a downside to what we witnessed. It’s what we didn’t see that really matters.
Yes, Oprah made a triumphant speech as she accepted the Cecil B. DeMille Award. It’s a speech that has everyone talking, and for good reason. It may go down as one of the best speeches ever made. Pushing the needed agenda that “time’s up,” Oprah galvanized with words what must now become action. To that end, she brought massive attention to the Time’s Up initiative to end sexual assault, harassment, and inequality in the workplace. Still and unfortunately, the glitz and the hoopla cast a shadow over early champions of the cause. Moreover, some of these unsung heroines [and at least one hero] did not receive invitations to attend the Golden Globe Awards. While I do understand the premise and purpose of the ceremony, I think the lack of inclusion missed the mark.
For example, take Tarana Burke, an activist from New York. She launched the Me Too movement in 2006 to raise awareness of sexual abuse and assault in society. She accepted an invitation and did attend the gala. Despite her groundbreaking role, the media has not paid enough attention to her. If it did, it would give the cause even more emphasis. Alyssa Milano turned the movement on its ear by making her plight public by turning the name into a hashtag. Soon, it became the talk of social media, and quickly became kitchen table conversation in millions of households across America. The first whistleblower on the takedown of Harvey Weinstein and his ilk is actress Rose McGowan. She, fellow actresses Asia Argento, Daryl Hannah, Rosanna Arquette, Mira Sorvino, and Annabelle Sciorra never received invitations.
Actor Corey Feldman, who wrote way back in 2013 about the abuses he suffered, also received no invitation. I stand in solidarity with Feldman as a fellow male survivor of abuse. Far fewer cases of sexual abuse perpetrated on boys is reported than by girls. He’s surely not the only male to have suffered. But, I applaud him and all the women, who bravely stepped forward and told their stories. Now, we can all tell our stories.
It’s important to stay positive-minded and upbeat about the progresses made to this point. But, it’s very important to tell the truth about what – okay WHO – we didn’t see at the Golden Globes. The Time’s Up and #MeToo movements advocate for the removal of inequalities among people. My point is that event organizers ought to have extended invitations to the aforementioned victims-turned-whistleblowers. They should have encouraged those survivors to attend. Fearing a loss of the event’s glamorous edge, organizers made a serious misstep by not honoring the survivors. A more egalitarian approach would have been to promote human equality by having victims and supporters standing arm-in-arm.
In another sense, I found this social experiment very successful because it resulted in downplaying the fashion frenzy. As a personal stylist, I have a contrarian position about celebrities promoting fashion brands. Although I’m certainly pro-business and pro-fashion, I do not like the false narrative this promotion creates among the general public. Moreover, many gowns, dresses, suits, and tuxedoes worn by ceremony attendees aren’t the best choices out there. It’s not like the celebrities pick from among the thousands of possible ideas. Rather, fashion houses pay celebrities to be brand ambassadors, and it’s a huge business. At the 75th presentation of the Golden Globes Awards, the fashion marketing system was a lot quieter. In fact, the nominees were actually the focus and we onlookers could actually see them.
Removing inequality on the red carpet, I predict, will permeate into politics. When the president delivers his State of the Union address later this month, women politicians will band together in black.
What’s your opinion? Do you think the movement is delivering an effective message?
Joseph Rosenfeld offers a series of talks about the power of personal style and to schools about overcoming bullying.