Since 1953, the Academy Awards have been televised, offering the everyman an opportunity to become a voyeur in the lives of the rich and famous for one memorable evening. Almost 70 years later, with the catalogue of televised award spectacles having ballooned over the decades, about as much ink has been spilled critiquing the very concept of a televised award show as has been used to print the names of the winners on branded announcement cards.
But following a year where we were all cooped up in our houses, and Netflix became our best friend, is it not timely to celebrate the joys that television and cinema have provided us with in these dire times? Perhaps. Did the 78th Annual Golden Globes, which hit our television screens on the 1st of March 2021 do justice to this celebration? No.
The night appeared sour from the outset, built on a bed of criticisms directed at the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA). An eighty-seven person body, the HFPA is a group of journalists with not a single black member in its ranks, and a median age on par with your standard nursing home. Famed for accusations of sidling up to celebrities and allowing fame and favours to determine the night’s winners, the perceived authority of the association is suspect to say the least, and has cast the Golden Globes itself as an increasingly dubious affair.
But this less than rosy pre-text was just the beginning of the shambles that was the Golden Globes 2021. Globes favourites Tina Fey and Amy Poehler were back for their fifth round of hosting. However, due to the ongoing pandemic, the pair littered their minimally contentious humour with Zoom jokes, pretending to stroke each other through the split-screen as Fey presented in New York and Poehler in Los Angeles.
Further still, the tone-deafness of the HFPA was realised by a technical fault, that saw Daniel Kaluuya of Judas and the Black Messiah (2021) muted for his acceptance speech, chiding jokily, ‘You did me dirty!’ as the sound began to work.
For the rest of the nominees, the awkwardness of a Zoom tutorial breakout room was encountered time and time again, as celebrities were left on the screen, forced to feign smiles and enthusiastic claps for the competitor that had just beaten them as they delivered their acceptance speech. The atmosphere was perhaps best summed up by Don Cheadle hovering in a Zoom box, who in the midst of Jason Sudeikis’s Tolstoy-laden laments, began signalling for the actor to wrap-it-up; taking on the role of the iconic, yet obstinate instrumental music that ordinarily did the job.
Nonetheless, there were some genuinely memorable moments in a night otherwise characterised by drudgery. Anya Taylor-Joy’s glittering, emerald green Dior dress will go down in history as a fashion triumph. On the other end of the scale, Jason Sudeikis’s tie-dye hoodie and Chloe Zhao’s long-sleeved t-shirt and beanie combo epitomised the comfortable fashion that we all came to love in 2020. But in perhaps the most emotional moment of the night, Taylor Simone Ledward accepted a posthumous Globe for her husband, Chadwick Boseman; “He would say something beautiful, something inspiring, something that would amplify that little voice inside of all of us that tells you you can, that tells you to keep going, that calls you back to what you are meant to be doing at this moment in history.” If only the rest of the show had this level of authenticity.
But perhaps the greatest irony of the Golden Globes is that an event that is supposed to celebrate the best that television and film have to offer is an exemplar of ludicrously bad television itself. Stick to your Netflix suggested, it probably has better opinions.