As someone who consumes pop culture as if my life depends on it, there is always something to snark about after every awards show. But something remarkable happened during and after the Golden Globes last night: I was left with nothing to complain about. (Well, I could go on a rant about Argo but I won’t bore you with that.) When the Golden Globes ended last night, I immediately reached the conclusion that it had been the most feminist awards show I had ever seen. Here’s why.
From their opening monologue (duologue?) hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler set a refreshing and fun tone for the evening. They were self aware, unafraid to take brilliant swipes at major Hollywood players, and they actually worked for the laughs. (Make Dog President happen.) Their only joke about body image in Hollywood was not some easy one-liner about plastic surgery. And Poehler easily had the best line of the night by reminding us of this very important fact.
Then there was Jodie Foster’s incredible speech, which was equal parts baffling, profound, and moving. You can focus on whether or not she came out in her speech but that’s not the important thing that happened. Foster is a fiercely private, 50-year-old actress who has been in show business for 47 years. By all logical reasons (logical reasons being the stupid notion that actresses over 35 are washed up), Jodie Foster should not be a major Hollywood player anymore. Her speech was a testament to surviving in an industry that is not kind to women.
There were some great lines from actresses during their acceptance speeches. Anne Hathaway (wisely) praised Sally Field for “being a vanguard against typecasting”. (Don’t knock the importance of The Princess Diaries, Anne! That movie taught me the value of a hair straightener!) Claire Danes remarked about the bold, complex, female characters that exist on television. (Let’s keep driving that point home. Television is great for actresses right now.) But it was Jessica Chastain’s praise for Zero Dark Thirty director Kathryn Bigelow that stood out. Bigelow never takes credit for her enormous contribution to women in cinema. Fortunately, Chastain will be saying it enough times for her.
Finally, Lena Dunham and Girls.. Everyone loves to hate this show and its creator. Whatever. I love Girls. The fact that a show like Girls exists – flaws and all – is enough for me.
My main point is this: It’s not that entertainers like Fey, Poehler, Chastain, or Dunham needs a push to be outspoken about women in Hollywood. But it felt like everyone got the memo last night was the ideal time to do so. There are so many successful actresses who don’t like being labeled a feminist. But Fey and Poehler constantly remind us that being feminist is absolutely necessary in the entertainment industry while also making it seem endlessly fun. They brought that energy to the Golden Globes. Whether it was intentional or not, doesn’t matter. It was exactly what was needed.
(By the way, this was also the most watched Golden Globes telecast since 2007 and it’s been called the best awards show ever. But I still don’t care about Argo.)