By Claire Alongi
On Jan. 7, Oprah Winfrey received the Cecil B. DeMille award at the 64th annual Golden Globes. With triumph and fervor in her voice she proclaimed to the crowd of Hollywood elite, “I want all the girls watching here, now, to know that a new day is on the horizon!”
Winfrey’s impassioned speech was a high point in a ceremony overflowing with bitter jabs at ousted Hollywood abusers like Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey, while also creating a very public jumping off platform for the Time’s Up movement lead by powerful women in the entertainment industry.
In a way the Golden Globes acted as further confirmation that the #MeToo movement that gained traction on Twitter in late 2017 still had the steam to exist outside of its cyber boundaries.
Films, even with all their faults being exposed behind the camera, have never been afraid to go for the throat in the way they know how: by telling stories. Perhaps it’s not exactly surprising then that one year since Trump’s inauguration, two national women’s marches and one government shutdown later, some of the movies gunning for awards gold this year are anything but conforming to the president’s racist, sexist and generally idiotic rhetoric. There’s “The Post”, a blatant cry for free press and, “Call Me By Your Name,” a gentle and bittersweet story of two men falling in love over a quiet Italian summer, “LadyBird,” chronicles, a raw coming-of-age tale the relationship between a headstrong young girl and her mother (also written and directed by a woman), “Get Out” a darkly comic thriller that doubles as a harsh critique on racism in American (written and directed by a black man) and “I, Tonya” which among other things doubles as a graphic depiction of domestic abuse against women.
So it seems Hollywood is struggling to pull itself out of the mire of sexual abuse and misogyny that has plagued it since conception, as well as starting to give more voice to minorities. The bigger issue is whether or not the rest of the country will, or even can, follow in its footsteps.
In a way it feels like two parallel universes existing side by side but never touching. In one women and minorities are finally starting to get a voice after decades of silence, and in the other the leader of the free world has brushed off over a dozen sexual abuse allegations, walls are being built, dreamers exist in a fractured limbo and the government is a divided mess. How do these worlds reconcile with one another? Does giving a little golden man to a movie about two gay black men really make a difference?
I like to think so.
Maybe it’s naive or overly hopeful to believe in the power of movies, but why not? Movies are voices projected on screens across the country, across the world. They are truths and they are escapes. They can be horrendous sure, but they can also be cultural tent poles and calls to arms. And in this time of uncertainty when it seems like the world, and American in particular, is straddling a very thin line between barely functional and chaotic disaster we can use any fight we have. While government, and what sometimes seems like common human decency, crumble and claw for purchase, films can breakdown and rebuild. We’re watching you Hollywood, and may the Force be with you.