Golden Globes: A victorious night for social justice

#JeSuisCharlie, civil rights and LGBT rights dominated a night that celebrated all voices speaking out against oppression anywhere and everywhere

Actress Maggie Gyllenhaal arrives at the Weinstein Netflix after party after the 72nd annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California (photo credit: REUTERS)
Actress Maggie Gyllenhaal arrives at the Weinstein Netflix after party after the 72nd annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California
(photo credit: REUTERS)
As thousands gathered in Paris Sunday at a rally mourning the loss of those brutally killed in the city at the hands of terrorists last week, Hollywood, too, came out against indiscriminate terror and intimidation.
Most years, such a show of solidarity could be seen as superficial and hollow, but considering the industry’s recent brush with North Korean threats over the release of The Interview, which escalated into a full-blown war of words between the White House and North Korea, a silent Hollywood would be cowardly – and even worse – out of touch with the events of the day.
Hosts Tina Fey and Amy Phoeler, in fact, kicked off the ceremony by joking, “We’re here to celebrate all the films that we know and love and all the TV shows that North Korea was okay with.”
References to the Parisian tragedy were scattered throughout the ceremony – from Helen Mirren to Kathy Bates wearing “Je Suis Charlie” pins to Hollywood Foreign Press President Theo Kingma declaring, “Together, we will stand united against anyone who represses free speech anywhere – from North Korea to Paris.”
George Clooney – no stranger to speaking out on pertinent political matters – dedicated much of his speech accepting the Cecil B. Demille lifetime achievement award to recent events.
“Today was an extraordinary day. There were millions of people who marched, not just in Paris, but around the world. They were Christians and Jews and Muslims and they didn’t march in protest.
They marched in support that we will not walk in fear. We won’t do it. Je Suis Charlie,” he said in closing.
In general, it was a strong night for the downtrodden, persecuted and those struggling against oppression.
The drama Selma, which chronicles Dr. Martin Luther King and the campaign for civil rights, won Best Original Song for “Glory,” performed by Common and John Legend.
“As I got to know the people of the Civil Rights Movement, I realized I am the hopeful black woman who was denied her right to vote. I am the caring white supporter killed on the front lines of freedom. I am the unarmed black kid who maybe needed a hand, but instead was given a bullet. I am the two fallen police officers murdered in the line of duty. Selma has awakened my humanity,” Common said in his powerful speech.
The theme applied to television as well, where Transparent swept the Best Comedy and Best Actor in a Comedy categories. The Amazon series starring Jeffery Tambor (of Arrested Development fame) tells the story of a Jewish man in middle age who finally comes out to his family as a transgender woman.
In showing solidarity with the transgender community, creator Jill Soloway dedicated her win to Leelah Alcorn, a 16-year-old transgender girl from Ohio whose feelings of loneliness, isolation and lack of acceptance by her parents drove her to suicide last month.
“This award is dedicated to the memory of Leelah Alcorn and too many trans people who die too young,” Soloway said.
Maggie Gyllenhall who won for Best Actress in a mini-series for her portrayal of an Anglo-Israeli businesswoman who uses her inherited funds to help combat the Israeli/Palestinian crisis, dedicated her award to the complicated and multifaceted women gracing the big and small screens this year.
“When I look around the room at the women who are in here I think about the performances that I’ve watched this year, what I see actually are women who are sometimes powerful and sometimes not, sometimes sexy, sometimes not, sometimes honorable, sometimes not. What I think is new is the wealth of roles for actual women in television and in film. That’s what I think is revolutionary and evolutionary, and it’s what’s turning me on,” she beamed while clutching her first Golden Globe.
Interestingly, Gyllenhall was one of the many first-timers in the bunch. In addition to all the winners mentioned above, Kevin Spacey finally picked up his first award after eight nominations for House of Cards, Michael Keaton won after two (that were 12 years apart) for Birdman and newcomer Eddie Redmayne won on his first try for playing renowned physicist Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything.
Usually, the morning after the Golden Globes ceremony, while hangovers are nursed, rented dresses are returned and winners apologize to those they forgot to thank, Hollywood focuses on what the night’s wins means for the granddaddy of award shows: the Oscars.
And to that end, Boyhood has placed itself as solid frontrunner when Oscar nominations are announced on Thursday. Keaton and Redmayne will certainly go head to head in the Best Actor category.
But hopefully, the dialogue will now shift to all these inspirational wins and how we can only expect more to come.