Hollywood: Why so serious?
One wonders what Joan Rivers, former host of the television show Fashion Police, would have made of the black dress code for the Golden Globes ceremony.
Would this iconoclastic comic have dared poke fun at the turnout of the great and the good women of Hollywood dressed in their black sea of widows’ weeds? I’d like to think that Rivers would have had the balls to call out the new puritanism on the red carpet. But in the present ugly mood swirling the latest cultural revolution, even she might have been lynched.
For years we’ve seen female actors proudly strutting their stuff in ‘gowns’ (as the Americans call their froufrou frocks) that have left little to the imagination. Plunging neck-lines, see-through fabric, and hem-lines with slits to the thigh and waist have been the norm for decades.
This year, not only were the women dressed in a uniform of black but the designs were markedly more modest. Flesh was out-out-out, and covering it up, save for the odd shoulder or two and a modicum of cleavage, was in-in-in.
Now that the blackout has dominated the Golden Globes, what statement dress code is left for the Oscars? Perhaps an army of female actors in red bonnets and cloaks as worn in The Handmaid’s Tale? Perhaps sympathisers to the cause may don orange prison overalls to show that orange is the new #Metoo black?
In the olden golden days of American award ceremonies, the acting community kept to the script of being entertainers – blank canvases and empty vessels whose job it was to interpret the creative message. Now everyone has a political point to score and settle, and the signalling of it has moved from the wearing of a lapel ribbon to a themed costume.
Award ceremonies’ acceptance speeches have not been limited to an actor or director speaking about their craft. Once on the podium a winner can become saintly and sanctimonious, believing their wise words to be globally influential.
After the Golden Globes and Oprah Winfrey’s delivery of a powerful speech, director Steven Spielberg endorsed Winfrey as a possible Democratic presidential candidate. Winfrey, he said, was highly articulate and would know how to build bridges and lead America towards an empathetic future of mindfulness.
Call me a political party pooper, but the idea of Oprah Winfrey running for the presidency leaves me cold. I can see the attraction of putting the great communicator up against the self-proclaimed great negotiator, but where is Winfrey’s public service and deep knowledge of political process? Isn’t this casual dismissal of those who have done the hard yards in politics in favour of celebrity what landed us with the mess of Donald Trump?
Hollywood always takes things too far and takes itself way too seriously.
Recently, actor Meryl Streep thanked those first women who came out against Harvey Weinstein, saying they had changed the 21st century. This was during an interview where she was questioned by a reporter about actor Rose McGowan’s claim that Streep had turned a blind eye to Weinstein’s sexual abuse of young women.
McGowan, who alleges she was raped by Weinsten, a claim that Weinstein denies, has attacked Streep for her silence, saying it was part of the problem. Streep denies knowing anything of the abuses, even though Weinstein’s proclivities were apparently common knowledge.
And so the purging by the #Metoo movement has begun. Reminiscent of the Russian communists who held periodic reviews of members of the party they thought had joined, only to be on the winning side, now the great Streep has been labelled an undesirable.
Meanwhile, a group of 100 eminent French women, including actor Catherine Deneuve, have deplored the flood of public accusations prompted by the Weinstein scandal.
‘‘Far from helping women to become independent, this in reality serves the interests of the enemies of sexual freedom – religious extremists, the worst reactionaries, and those who believe in the name of Victorian morality that women are children with the faces of adults.’’
The group of French women, whose number included journalists, psychiatrists and intellectuals, were careful to say that the post-Weinstein awakening to abusive men was justified.
By all accounts, Weinstein is a sick man, who intimidated women into having sex with him, or inflicted himself upon them. It’s good he has been outed and others of his degree of offending have been found out and exposed.
But there are others who are being dragged into the Weinstein slime and are having their lives ruined because of relatively minor acts of misplaced flirtation that cannot be categorised as serious sexual offences. Putting them in the frame detracts from the serious offenders. But a lynch mob is baying for blood, wants scalps, and to hell with the consequences.
I just hope along the way to justice this doesn’t affect a women’s freedom to dress how she wants, and to enjoy expressing her sexuality. We don’t have to tone ourselves down and become nunlike. That would mean the nasty men have won.