Op-Ed: What happens when the #MeToo mushroom cloud meets the Golden Globes?
I have to thank my whole team. Well, not my whole team but, you know, the ones I haven’t given sworn depositions about. Anyway, for their unwavering support in spearheading this production, I owe so much to all the powerful women — well, woman. There was one. And of course I wouldn’t be up here if it weren’t for my wonderful fellow actors, except for that guy who picked the lock on my trailer door….
Welcome to the winter of our self-contempt.
There are a lot of white males in Hollywood who have been white males in Hollywood for a long time, so when their peers were suddenly elbowed to the edge of extinction in the waning months of a livid 2017, it was super unpleasant. Luckily, the sleepy last two weeks of December offered them a breather from live streaming #MeToo outrage, a moment to slouch toward Maui and ponder how their world could have slipped out the backdoor so fast.
Unluckily, for those hoping to come back to a subtler, less appalling, less noticeable crisis, the awards season was waiting by the curb at LAX. The mushroom cloud of #MeToo never left town, and now it’s ready to darken a thousand cheery customs of awards time. Forget “I’m wearing Tom Ford” and “I feel so lucky to be in this industry.” The Golden Globes will be the first time Hollywood has been seen en masse since the truth escaped, and “it” must be addressed. Over and over.
The Golden Globes will be the first time Hollywood has been seen en masse since the truth escaped, and “it” must be addressed.
Tonight may turn out to be pretty vile. Then again, it could be cathartic. Or maybe healthy in a sickening way. What it won’t be is fun. Nothing like the usual ego-fluffing, bro-hugging partying.
It will be tricky. Diplomacy is so un-Hollywood. Words must be chosen, edited, discarded; sentiments nudged into safe zones by crisis-management focus groups; speeches vetted by law firms into almost-offensive inoffensiveness. And even then, landmines will be everywhere.
To have a network legend so intimately involved with our cast — well, not intimately. And not involved. The thing is, his presence perverted — I mean, pervaded the set .... Can the orchestra play me off now?
The Golden Globes is usually a boozy, loose-lipped excuse to be diligently flippant. Not that long ago, the members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. were biddable. But now that winning and losing statuettes is a puny sideshow to bravery and scandal, these polyglot reporters are almost unrecognizable. With knives in their voices, their questions practically make them sound like journalists. Scary.
And then there’s the red carpet. This glamour walk looms as a perp walk. With so many careers and reputations already torpedoed — multiple Oscar winners! — strategy will be everything. Practiced blank looks or psychosomatic deafness could work. Mastery of the phrase “no comment” is another way to go. But for those who opt-in on carpet talk, the responses will likely be precooked like presidential debate prep. Nonstop use of the word “inappropriate” will be mandatory. Pleas of innocence, ignorance and “that was irony,” off the table. And as for lighthearted humor as a charming way to riff on trying times? Just don’t.
Maybe we could have taken our cue from the Catholic Church and just had Paramount transfer its predators to Sony .…
One slip-up and we’re sentenced to a week when all we hear are the words “ ______ have chosen to distance themselves from _____.”
Even if we muscle through the Golden Globes without a body count, there’s an obstacle course of other ceremonies waiting to swallow us whole. As always, the Academy Awards will be the biggest of big nights, where the need for sensitivity and discretion will be at its most crushing. On the other hand, with the news cycle running like a 45 rpm record on a 78 rpm turntable, maybe the cataclysm will have eased up, replaced by something more tawdry and grotesque. We can only hope.
Funny, last year’s awards season, when Hollywood was in the throes of a shocking new presidency, seems like centuries ago. It’s curious how hindsight tends to make past concerns seem so quaint, so manageable. In light of our current state of siege, it’s sweet nostalgia to think back to a time when all we had to worry about was the end of the world.
Peter Mehlman is a comedian and former writer on “Seinfeld.”
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