Do you remember the “mani-cam”? This was the miniature red carpet on which female Golden Globes stars were required to display their manicures – or rather, to walk their fingers down while conducting interviews with the various entertainment reporters. Splay those digits, girls! Any woman who wouldn’t put out was assumed to have a rudimentary finger and burned as a witch.
A couple of years ago, and without irony, CBS News regarded the fact that E! had mothballed its mani-cam as “the sign of a growing gender-equality push in Hollywood”. Now, this coming Sunday in 2018, many of those same stars will take to the red carpet wearing black to protest against sexual assault, abuse and harassment in their industry. Clearly, this will awaken those always-valid concerns about feminism having “gone too far the other way now”. But the advances speak for themselves: in just two years, we’ve gone from the de-emphasis of mandatory cuticle perfection to a vague industry-wide promise to stop raping employees. I mean, it really raises the horizons for what’s possible in 2019.
Still, on with the show. “If I were hosting the Golden Globes,” mused four-time former host Ricky Gervais this week, “I wouldn’t be brave enough to do the joke I’ve just thought of.” Fortunately for the various elephants in the room, he isn’t. I don’t mean literal pachyderms – I mean all the different Hollywood power players who got away with it, despite Weinstein, and are still in with a strong chance of taking the stage in one of the best picture ensembles or whichever.
Instead, the Golden Globes will be helmed by Seth Meyers, host of NBC’s Late Night, whose appointment to the gig was greeted by an auto-parodic Forbes column entitled “The Golden Globes Need a Feminist Host This Year and Seth Meyers Fits the Bill.” None of which is to denigrate Meyers – a truly excellent and thoughtful late-night host, particularly known for his political comedy (with which presumably almost everyone in the room agrees). But Gervais is known for saying stuff you really can’t say except he just did and it’s horrifyingly disrespectful and hilarious and the cutaway reaction shot to Casey Affleck is just outrageous … and so on.
Clearly, the Globes organisers are going for a different “feel” to that which Gervais might bring, with Meyers himself saying of the industry’s post-Weinstein reckoning: “We want to talk about it in a way that’s cathartic, as opposed to reminding us all how awful it is. That’s the tone we’re certainly trying to strike, which is to release the pressure, rather than build it up.”
And yet, I can’t help feeling the Golden Globes is going to need to apply a little pressure to itself, or it is in danger of being drowned out by a rival awards ceremony. This upstart has been scheduled in the news grid – with extreme lack of respect – merely hours after the Globes. I speak, of course, of “The MOST DISHONEST AND CORRUPT MEDIA AWARDS OF THE YEAR”, presented by – and indeed decided by – the actual president of the actual United States. Donald Trump has promised to take to Twitter at 5 on Monday – am or pm is as yet unclear – and thunder may well be stolen.
So perhaps the best hope for headline-grabbing at the Globes will be the images of all those stars wearing black on the red carpet. This protest has now been confirmed as part of a new initiative led collectively by hundreds of big names, from Shonda Rhimes to America Ferrera to Reese Witherspoon to Eva Longoria to Mary J Blige. The Time’s Up initiative is designed to counter systemic sexual harassment in Hollywood and elsewhere, with the most interesting part being the allocation of specific funds to assist the legal fights of working-class women in less privileged industries.
Quite how successfully these new concerns will be communicated on the red carpet is uncertain. Some of the awards-season infrastructure already feels like it’s having a hard time shifting gear, though I very much enjoyed an Entertainment Tonight feature rather wanly entitled: “15 Black Designer Dresses We Might See at Sunday’s Golden Globes”.
The new mood certainly raises challenges for the red-carpet reporters, none of whom is higher profile than E!’s Ryan Seacrest. In the old days, Ryan’s training for the event was intensely gruelling, but essentially believed to consist of his being flashed split-second images of evening dresses for nine days without sleep. He would be required to name not just the designer, but also the collection influences.
This year, you should picture him in a remote barn, much like the Soviet one Rocky has to make do with in the second training montage in Rocky IV. Here, and presumably for the past three weeks, a wizened feminist trainer has been driving him through a series of incredibly demanding exercises, such as repressing the urge to mention beading, and forcing himself to look like he gives a shit what Margot Robbie thinks about her movie/Iran/the human resources options of Nebraska chambermaids.
That said, Seacrest already has the bare bones of a fourth-wave red-carpet reporter in him. After all, it was only moments ago that the fashion community found it far more fashionable to be outraged at Ryan’s lack of appropriate focus. “I’m screaming at the TV,” recalled one style journalist of Ryan’s 2010 Golden Globes stint. “Ask her who she’s wearing!” “It was almost like he wasn’t that interested in the designers,” designer Nicole Miller sniffed. “He seemed more interested in the celebrities and their careers.”
As indicated, though, all serious stylists have now pivoted to feminism, and have spent the past few weeks making hilarious claims of what is, in the end, a party dress choice. Here’s one on her client’s outfit: “[The gown] has been redesigned in a way that is specific to her personality and the empowered message we’re sending for this year”. I don’t know which to picture – a baggy tracksuit bearing the legend IDGAF, or the usual figure-hugging glam slam, only with 30,000 hand-sewn Czech crystals spelling out: NEVER TOUCH OUR VAGINAS WITHOUT PERMISSION AGAIN.
Or perhaps you prefer stylist Jessica Paster, who announces that designers are rushing to remake dresses in black. “Designers have always bent over backwards to accommodate an actress if they can, and this is an amazing time to be a woman.” Is it? I mean, I guess it is, if you like having to wear sexy funeral attire to your works do, in the hope some of the senior management will stop assaulting underlings.
It remains to be seen how unanimous the all-black dress code will be – secretly, we all want to see at least one terrible monster rock up in 20 foot of ruffled red satin and half a mine of conflict diamonds. But even some of the male stars are obliging, with the stylist to the likes of The Rock and Tom Hiddleston confirming that her roster of clients would be following suit. As this Ilaria Urbinati put it: “YES, the men WILL be standing in solidarity with women on this wearing-all-black movement to protest against gender inequality at this year’s Golden Globes. At least ALL MY GUYS will be. Safe to say this may not be the right time to choose to be the odd man out here … just sayin …”
Guys! Don’t be that guy! Then again, any woman who wins on Sunday will have the privilege of looking out into a sea of faces containing several guys who she knows have, thus far, got away with it, clapping like they’re Gloria fricken Steinem.
Many of you will have felt a similar need to eyeroll, in your own less glitzy worlds. God knows some of us gals in the media have privately shrieked at some of the men who have been offering sensitive takes on the whole business for the past couple of months. We literally never knew they cared, not even when they were telling us in their own special, unsolicited ways. Was wokeness what that was, all along? If only we’d known at the time. We just wish we could go back and thank them for their service. For now, let’s just say that not all heroes wear capes – much less black tuxedos.