Culture

‘Actual Women,’ Civil Rights, And Bill Cosby: The Most Meaningful Moments From The Golden Globes

CREDIT: John Shearer/Invision/AP

Pure heroines.

The Golden Globe Awards were last night, and before we jump into our recap of the evening, let us allow that there is an element of fiddling-while-Rome-burns to the whole affair. Violence, elsewhere, abounds, and all the while we are engaged in this mani-cam-watching, tequila-shot-taking pursuit.

And yet! In the midst of the meaninglessness of last night’s pageantry was a surprisingly high number of meaningful moments: high-minded critiques of America’s most famous alleged rapist; self-aware jabs at gender double-standards in the entertainment industry; recognition for the LGBT community, people of color, the activists of the Civil Rights movement, survivors of sexual assault. Plus, newlyweds George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin wore “Je Suis Charlie” pins. So shake off that hangover and dig in for a round-up of the most thoughtful (and/or thought-provoking) speeches, gestures and wins of the evening.

Amy and Tina kick things off with a brilliant, pointed Bill Cosby joke

At the end of the show, Meryl Streep announced she would miss these two dearly. Meryl Streep is never wrong. Who won’t miss this duo? They make the awkward, typically unfunny work of hosting an awards show look like a bender with your best friend. Their opening monologue had plenty of memorable one-liners about the state of women in Hollywood, not exactly new territory for these two — I particularly enjoyed Fey’s remark that it took Steve Carrell two hours to transform for his role in Foxcatcher while it took her three hours “to prepare for my role as a human woman”; also, points for the gentleman-objectifying round of “Who would you rather?” — but surely the zinger that made everyone at home make that Jessica-Chastain-surprise-face was the bit about Bill Cosby.


(Go to 8:50 for the start of the Cosby material.)

The rape joke is a comedic third rail, but it doesn’t have to be; let’s remember, if Hannibal Buress hadn’t been game to make a joke about Bill Cosby, we might not be seeing literally dozens of victims have come forward to accuse Cosby of varying degrees of sexual misconduct and assault. Comedy can create a space to talk about issues that are too uncomfortable, too terrifying, or just too true to face head on. Fey and Poehler’s bit, like Burress’s, makes the target of the joke the ridiculousness/hypocrisy of the alleged rapist.

Maggie Gyllenhaal’s tribute to “actual women”

Gyllenhaal took home Best Actress in a TV Miniseries or Movie for her work in The Honorable Woman, that show that all your really smart friends keep telling you to watch and you’re like, “I WILL I PROMISE,” but then you accidentally spend a week watching five seasons of The League, but really, you are going to watch it. Though she claimed her speech was in her brother’s pocket, she didn’t stumble a bit in her eloquent tribute to the kinds of women she wants to see, and is happy to finally be seeing, on television:

I think I’ve noticed a lot of people talking about the wealth of roles for powerful women in television lately. And when I look around the room at the women who are in here and 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 and sometimes not. And 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 went on to thank the complicated women in her life, along with her husband, “a lover of complicated women.”

Common’s solidarity with the Civil Rights movement

Common accepted the award for Best Original Song alongside John Legend for “Glory,” their anthem for Selma. Common’s speech was a welcome sincere follow-up to Fey’s funny-because-it’s-true quip about the film. (“The movie Selma is about the American Civil Rights movement, that totally worked and now everything’s fine.”) He said:

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.

Two heartfelt displays of appreciation for the trans community

We live in the future: Amazon won two awards last night: Transparent nabbed Best Comedy and Best Actor in a TV Series, Comedy. Jeffrey Tambor, accepting the latter, began with, “Oh, this is big. This is much bigger than me.” He went on to say, “If I may, I would like to dedicate my performance and this award to the transgender community. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your courage, thank you for your inspiration, thank you for your patience, and thank you for letting us be a part of the change.”

Jill Soloway, Transparent creator, paid homage to Leelah Alcorn, a young transgender woman who recently committed suicide. In Alcorn’s suicide note, she wrote that her parents tried to force her to undergo conversion therapy and would not accept her as transgender. Soloway also thanked “my transparent,” her parent who came out to her in 2011:

I want to thank the trans community. They are our family. They make this possible. This award is dedicated to the memory of Leelah Alcorn, and too many trans people who die too young. And it’s dedicated to you, my transparent, my moppa, you’re watching at home right now. And I just want to thank you for coming out. Because in doing so, you made a break for freedom, you told your truth, you taught me how to tell my truth and make this show. And maybe we’re going to be able to teach the world something about authenticity and truth and love. To love.

A microphone for rape survivors

If we are talking strictly about the merits of television — Is this a well-written show? Are the characters three-dimensional? Does anything interesting happen, ever? — then Downton Abbey has not qualified as “great” or even “good” TV since its inaugural season. But setting this aside for the moment, Joanne Froggatt, winner of Best Supporting Actress in a TV Series, Miniseries, or Motion Picture, spoke beautifully about the importance of giving a voice to rape survivors:

After this storyline aired, I received a small number of letters from survivors of rape. And one woman summed up many by saying, she wasn’t sure why she’d written, but she just felt, in some way, she wanted to be heard. And I’d just like to say, I heard you, and I hope saying this so publicly means you feel, in some way, the world hears you.

Jane The Virgin star on her award “representing a culture”

In a first-ever win for The CW, Gina Rodriguez won for her (seriously outstanding, you should all be watching Jane The Virgin) portrayal of the accidentally-inseminated Jane on the sexy, funny telenovela-inspired show. Full disclosure: a person could get a bit nervous when a winner starts a speech by thanking “God, for making me an artist,” but things improved from there, with Rodriguez articulating why diversity in casting is not just about checking boxes or filling a quota for its own sake: “This award is so much more than myself. It represents a culture that wants to see themselves as heroes.”

An acknowledgement of AIDS victims

Does it feel like The Normal Heart has been winning awards for over a year? Like hasn’t Julia Roberts been making the rounds since early 2013? Sure feels that way, but apparently the HBO version of Larry Kramer’s groundbreaking play is still awards-eligible, and Matt Bomer, the most symmetrically-faced man ever to grace our screens, won Best Supporting Actor in a TV Series, Miniseries, or Motion Picture. Bomer closed out his speech by saluting victims of AIDS: “To the generation that we lost and the people we continue to lose to this disease, I just want to say, we love you, and we remember you.”

A shoutout to single mothers

Patricia Arquette self-effacingly claimed she was “the only nerd with a piece of paper” when she got to the stage to accept Best Supporting Actress, Motion Picture (for Boyhood) but nerds are onto something: people who are prepared make much better speeches than people who waste away their precious allotted time babbling about how surprised they are (looking at you, Amy Adams; come on, this is not your first time at this shindig.) In her speech, Arquette described her character as “an under-appreciated single mother” and expressed her gratitude for “shining a light on this woman and the millions of women like her, and for allowing me to honor my own mother with this beautiful character.”