On Jan. 7, 2008, a serious announcement was made to the public. Due to the ongoing Writers Guild strike, the 26th Annual Golden Globes Ceremony was – cue loud collective intake of air – not going to happen. That meant no red carpet, no ogling the latest celebrity fashion trends and, perhaps most disappointingly, no flustered, half-slurred and entertainingly awkward acceptance speeches from our favorite, normally poised, actors. Instead, we were to get a press conference. One – and here’s the kicker – hosted by the likes of “Access Hollywood” ‘s Billy Bush. Could it get much worse?
Well, life went on. Hollywood didn’t crumble to the ground and obsessed film lovers without lives didn’t sink into fits of delirium. Or maybe the latter did occur, but if that’s the case, it’s hard for me to sympathize. It’s also at this point I should interject that I consider myself a film lover with at least the resemblance of a life.
The point is this: The whole 2008 Golden Globes fiasco taught us a lesson. These excessive, politically-correct and blissfully overindulgent awards ceremonies have been stifling our conceptions of what good filmmaking is for far too long. But as demonstrated by the fact that the Earth did not fall off its axis because we didn’t get to see Julia Roberts’s million-dollar red carpet dress this year, they’re ultimately negligible.
It seems some good has come from the writer’s strike after all. In a perfect world, this would be the first step towards obliterating the awards show for good. But that won’t happen. Hollywood needs shows like the Golden Globes and the Oscars just as a big corporation needs its annual awards banquet; they serve as a way for the bigwigs to shamelessly congratulate themselves. I’d like to say it’s all harmless, but really, it’s not. The problem is viewers actually buy into the idea that these awards matter. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say, “Well, I saw ‘The Aviator’ but I just didn’t get it. I must be missing something; I mean, it was nominated for an Oscar!” Well, no, you’re not missing anything, and, yeah, I didn’t get it either.
In 1985, the Hong Kong Film Awards, Hong Kong’s equivalent to the Oscars, awarded the film “Police Story” (1985) the prize for Best Picture. That film was directed by and starred Jackie Chan. It’s another one of his goofy action comedies – and it’s fantastic. The idea of a Jackie Chan martial arts opus winning the grand prize at a national awards ceremony is astonishing to me, not because the film in question didn’t deserve it, but because the idea of a film geared toward the “common denominator” winning an Oscar is unheard of. Only “deep” films with heavy messages win awards in this country. “Robocop” (1987) was never nominated for anything, even though it was probably one of the most scathing, satirical and brilliantly written films of the ’80s.
To their credit, the Golden Globes actually do give credence to some of the less serious fare. For example, “Toy Story 2” won the award for Best Comedy/Musical in 2000. But note how they slyly divide the categories: There’s an award for Best Drama, and an award for Best Comedy/Musical. Combining the two, apparently, is blasphemy. You can’t have “Juno” nominated in the same category as “The Great Debaters.”
I say we scrap these things all together. The Golden Globes and the Oscars have not proven to me that they should be looked upon as purveyors of good taste and artistic enlightenment, especially not when they’re giving dishonest, manipulative junk like “Crash” (2004) the award for Best Picture, as the Academy Awards did in 2005. But like it or not, Hollywood has an indelible influence on our daily lives. The way we live and moralize, what we think is cool or not and how we dress and talk is all formed through Hollywood. The last thing we need now is for it to qualify art for us. That’s what critics are for.
Conradis knows what to wear by watching Julia Roberts. Give him fashion tips at firstname.lastname@example.org