“This is the Golden Globes, one of the few places left where America still honors the popular vote.”
Golden Globes host Jimmy Fallon started his roasting of president-elect Donald Trump early and he kept it going often in his snafu-riddled opening monologue welcoming viewers to Hollywood’s drunkest, most nonsensical night.
While a malfunctioning teleprompter dragged the pitfalls of 2016 right on over to 2017 with Fallon’s very own Mariah Carey moment—and enough white male privilege to not have the faultless live TV slip-up turn into a career-ruining media scandal—the rest of the monologue continued as we all pretty much expected: lots of Trump jokes, and, because of that, lots of awkwardness.
Yes, all of Tinseltown’s tanned-and-tailored beauties were eager to hoot and applaud at Fallon’s ribbing of Trump, and the host got some Tonight Show-approved digs in during his monologue.
(“Game of Thrones is nominated tonight. The show has so many plot twists and shocking moments a lot of people have wondered what it would have been like if King Joffrey had lived. Well in 12 days we’re going to find out,” for example.)
But then again, Donald Trump also got his Tonight Show-approved presidency.
Let’s not forget that the same man joining all of Us Weekly’s cover stars in shaking their fists at our Republican president-elect is the one who gave him a noogie on NBC’s late-night, humanized his bigotry, and normalized politics that so many Americans considered dangerous through some jovial goofing around with our populist late-night jester.
The jokes were broad swings, sure. But that’s kind of what we want from these award shows. So we chuckled when Fallon joked that Florence Foster Jenkins, the infamously terrible opera singer that Meryl Streep played in the film of the same name, even turned down performing at Trump’s inauguration.
“You might remember Manchester By the Sea as the only movie from 2016 that was more depressing than 2016,” he ribbed. That’s a good award-show joke!
But we continue to be uncomfortable with a TV personality with the largest audience in late night failing to shoulder any responsibility for holding Trump to task for myriad offenses, misinformation, and disturbing behavior on his show, instead opting to give the now president-elect a platform to giggle around on and seem “fun.”
There’s a lot to be said about what roles people actually have in television, and Fallon, a consummate entertainer who gets more criticism than he deserves for the broad reach of his comedy, never pretends to be a journalist or a newsman. But there’s a line, we feel. And that line comes into great focus when, months later, that same entertainer is criticizing the politician he, in a way, played a part in creating.
Of course, this is a night we expect to be defined by Hollywood hypocrisy and double standards.
Mel Gibson, a man who seems more frustrated that people won’t forget about his bigoted rants and abusive past than actually sorry for it, is a nominee for his film, Hacksaw Ridge. Hollywood, or at least the Hollywood Foreign Press, has forgiven him. (Meanwhile, “prickly” or “difficult” stars like Katherine Heigl are blacklisted for the egregious sin of such incendiary discourse as “maybe Judd Apatow’s films don’t contain the most nuanced portraits of women.”)
And, as The Daily Beast first raised and The New York Times even recently explored, there are certainly issues of race and privilege to explore in the different ways Manchester By the Sea star Casey Affleck and Birth of a Nation creative Nate Parker have been treated by the media for their respective—and certainly not equal—past sexual abuse and harassment allegations.
Should any of that matter? Maybe, maybe not. As pure art, we thought all three films were excellent. But it’s worth bringing up on a night to which so much money and media space has been devoted, and which will celebrate and mint films that hope to start dialogues and create opportunities.
Yes, yes, it’s just a silly awards show. And we quite liked Jimmy Fallon’s La La Land-inspired opening number (at least until the stale and homophobic, seemingly endless bit with Justin Timberlake).
But if we’re going to mock a moment in our culture, let’s not forget how we got here—hair rub and all.