Entertainment

Opinion: Was the 'blackout' at the Golden Globes actually groundbreaking?

Does wearing a pin mean anything if you refuse to denounce the men responsible?

By Kate Wagner

The Golden Globes rejected opulence and colour to stand in solidarity with those sexually abused or harassed; to those afraid to speak out about bullying or intimidation in fear they'd lose their jobs; for women dismissed as sex things no matter how hard they work.

Seeing the sea of black on the red carpet was visually stunning, but what did it really achieve? Don't get me wrong, I don't think anybody there thought donning funeral garb would usurp systemic sexism or break an inherent culture of silence, but why were we so excited about it?

A sea of black on the stage as Reese Witherspoon accepts the award for Best TV Series for Big Little Lies.
A sea of black on the stage as Reese Witherspoon accepts the award for Best TV Series for Big Little Lies.

It was a powerful statement, but you know what's more powerful? Not celebrating men with dodgy pasts.

Defunct Gawker published screenshots of James Franco trying to arrange a rendezvous with a 17-year-old in 2014 and actress Ally Sheedy alluded to her own #MeToo moment with the actor.

Gary Oldman, who wore a Time's Up pin on the red carpet, was accused by his wife of assaulting her in front of their children with a telephone.

More powerful than wearing black is actually condemning Woody Allen – the same man who fears men will no longer be able to wink at women in the workplace after the Weinstein reckoning.

Justin Timberlake wore a Time's Up badge which is nice, might have been nicer to not be involved in Allen's latest film Wonder Wheel.

Many actors have refused to denounce the controversial director, more oft than not coming down to the old nugget he's never been found guilty of the accusations levelled against him by his estranged daughter.

Kate Winslet, Blake Lively and Greta Gerwig have all been vocal supporters of the women speaking out against Weinstein, stressing the importance of an uprising.

"The fact that these women are starting to speak out about the gross misconduct of one of our most important and well-regarded film producers, is incredibly brave and has been deeply shocking to hear," Winslet told the Los Angeles Times.

Kate Winslet and Harvey Weinstein in 2009
Kate Winslet and Harvey Weinstein in 2009

But in terms of working with Allen? Well, suddenly he could only be judged by their own interactions with him. For Winslet, she's an actor, he's a director and "you just have to step away and say, I don't know anything, really, and whether any of it is true or false", while Lively thinks it "very dangerous to factor in things you don't know anything about".

"He's an 81-year-old man who went through a two-year court case. As far as I know, he wasn't convicted of anything," Winslet told the Los Angeles Times during the press junket.

It is important to note that Weinstein has also never been convicted of anything, despite active criminal investigations.

Others fawned over the #woke message from Oprah while she accepted the Cecil B.DeMille Award – the same award presented to Allen four years earlier.

The entertainment juggernaut gave a powerful speech, but it was hardly anything ground-breaking. She delivered her message – a fantastic one – in an incredibly stirring way, but as both an actress and talk show host, it's always been her job to be good at speaking.

Delivering a captivating speech, aka using a skill she's honed for the last four decades, does not a president make.

Then the three women who opted out of the blackout were savaged on social media. I'm not saying Blanca Blanco was coming from a good place, I'm sure she was simply hungry for 15 seconds of fame (which she definitely got as we all furiously googled who she was), but we don't get to tear her apart for wearing a red dress.

There's men embedded in Hollywood society molesting women and we decided the hill to die on was a D-grade celeb wearing colour? Please.

Though I will say the eight actresses who took activists gave me the kind of subtle power play I have all the time in the world for.

Shailene Woodley, who was arrested for protesting the Dakota Access pipeline in 2016, brought Calina Lawrence, an activist for native treaty rights.

Emma Watson and Amy Poehler, active feminist campaigners, brought Marai Larasi, a woman dedicated to ending violence against black, minority ethnic and refugee women and Saru Jayaraman, author attorney and activist who aims to improve wages and working conditions for the restaurant workforce, respectively.

Similarly, Natalie Portman's pointed all-male director dig and Debra Messing putting E! on the spot were the perfect, subtle "screw you" to the patriarchy.

Big speeches and fashion statements are definitely an important start, we need people to talk about it, but influential people don't get to do the bare minimum and be celebrated and they certainly shouldn't run for president.