Saturday, 13 January 2018

Golden Globes 2018 - Black Dresses & Armchair Activism

Unless you've been living under a rock lately (or on back shift like I was this week and missed most of the action live as it happened!) you'll probably have seen a lot of press this week surrounding the 2018 Golden Globes which took place last Sunday, 7th January. It was the 75th annual Golden Globes in fact, celebrating all that is great in Hollywood from the past year. Which, I think we all can admit, wasn't very much. From the lack of diversity, poor representation and tokenism for minorities to the sea of sexual assault allegations and an ever-apparent victim blaming culture, Hollywood, once a place of dreams and glamour, is quickly beginning to unravel and reveal the dark seediness that lies beneath. This year though, some of the most recognized and celebrated women in Hollywood stood united in the face of misogyny, claiming that 'Time's Up!'. Or did they? Was it really a protest with any real depth? Will it have any impact on victims of sexual abuse behind closed doors rather than in the public eye? Or is it mere a self-soothing act for those who live ultimately very privileged and protected lives now that the issue has hit the headlines? Let's discuss...

Rumours of this black dress pact began circulating towards the end of last year with the tag line 'Don't Stand Out, Stand Up'. With allegations of sexual assault from some of Hollywood's most influential men coming in thick and fast - Woody Allen, Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby to name a few) it seemed like a grand united gesture from the women of Hollywood to join together and use their collective influence for good. Some of tinsel towns leading ladies walked the red carpets in black gowns - the likes of Halle Berry, Reese Witherspoon, Viola Davis, Natalie Portman, Kerry Washington and Kate Hudson. Even rising teen star Millie Bobby Brown got involved.

But when we've seen these types of empty gestures of before - the ice bucket challenge for motor neurone disease, make-up free selfies for breast cancer, smudged red lipstick for smear test awareness, safety pins to inform strangers that you aren't a threat, the #IllRideWithYou hashtag to tell everyone you aren't a gigantic racist - I can't help but feel we're resting too heavily on armchair activism and fooling ourselves into thinking these small gestures will make any real impact when realistically, they probably won't. Even the tag line of the 'Don't Stand Out, Stand Up' is problematic. There's been such an on-going battle in the media in recent years to urge journalists and interviewers to ask female celebrities about more than just what they are wearing yet this tag line seems to suggest that these smart and talented women can only be either beautiful, glamourous and stylish OR intelligent, strong and powerful, but not both. 

Admittedly, many of the women of Hollywood did address the issues dominating their industries during speeches and interviews - Oprah Winfrey being the most noted (you can watch her speech in full here) as well as a number of famous faces such as Meryl Streep and controversial 'white feminist' actress Emma Watson bringing activists as their dates. While I applaud these brave women for speaking up, I can't help but feel more could've been done. This was supposed to be their big moment, their grand gesture, their 'enough is enough' moment and it just seemed to me to be all style and no substance. Imagine how much it would've stirred up Hollywood and sent the press into over drive if the women, trying their best to make a difference, hadn't even attended at all? Yep, all of them. Just some food for thought.

It's a controversial topic and I'm not shaming these women, I understand a revolution takes time and there's no denying that it's created a dialogue, but it begs the question - just how powerful could these womens' voices be when they are truly used them to promote their cause and not themselves.

I'd love to know your thoughts...

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