At last night’s Golden Globe Awards, Oprah Winfrey delivered a tremendous speech while accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Award. Winfrey was the first African American woman to win the award, which honors the recipient for, according to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, “outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment.”
The 75th annual Golden Globes gave even more momentum to the backlash against sexism in Hollywood, and in the entertainment industry more broadly. With guests wearing black in solidarity, bringing activists of color to the event as their dates, and promoting campaigns like #MeToo and Time’s Up, the ceremony offered a hint of what a more inclusive and thoughtful industry could look like.
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Winfrey’s powerful speech, uploaded online by NBC, ended up being the evening’s climax, more so than any award given to a film or TV show. She expressed her support of women in the room who had spoken out about their personal experiences with sexual harassment and abuse, but also extended her attention to women beyond the entertainment industry. She said, “But it’s not just a story affecting the entertainment industry. It’s one that transcends any culture, geography, race, religion, politics, or workplace. So I want tonight to express gratitude to all the women who have endured years of abuse and assault.”
Winfrey also honored Recy Taylor, a woman who, in 1944, was abducted by six white men and raped. Her case was investigated by Rosa Parks, at the time an investigator with the NAACP; Taylor passed away late last month. Winfrey then discussed her own experience portraying characters who have lived through extremely difficult situations and lives, before ending with a message of great hope: “So I want all the girls watching here, now, to know that a new day is on the horizon! And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say ‘Me too’ again.”
Although the Golden Globes were a step in the right direction, there were still signs the entertainment industry still has much progress to make. Despite Lady Bird winning Best Musical or Comedy and Best Actress – Musical or Comedy (Saoirse Ronan), director Greta Gerwig was not nominated for Best Director. There was also a perceived lack of enthusiasm by men at the event, as male award winners didn’t mention the #MeToo or Time’s Up movements during their speeches, and failed to mention sexism in Hollywood at all. Racial representation was lacking as well, a fact best encapsulated by Get Out‘s shut out. Time will tell if March’s Oscars will course-correct. There’s clearly a lot more work left to do, but at the very least, the Golden Globes give reason to hope there are many people eager to make change happen.
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