Well that was a mildly interesting night of narcissism on display.
Of all the sizzling celebrity shindigs during awards season, the Golden Globes is the one that is super-dumb and super-fun. Most of the awards-season events, lacking any importance outside of Hollywood and lacking the heft of TV network coverage in prime-time, are things that people read about the next day. The big one, the Academy Awards, has become a long night of ponderous self-regard and most people under the age of 50 wouldn't be caught dead watching.
But the Golden Globes has caught on as the must-see shindig. Dumb because it has no meaning except as an event (the idea that quality is accurately assessed by the 90 hacks of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is ludicrous) and fun because it includes both TV and movies (which means viewers might actually have seen that nominated actor in more than a 30-second movie trailer on TV) it is, as the E! channel people declared at the start of the red carpet coverage, "young, fun and cool."
That's the point, people – youth viewers for the TV event, not codgers. Oh sure, like the Academy Awards it features an awful lot of women who appear be five inches wide and many, many men who appear to be engaged in a long-running homage to Liberace, but it rolls out as an unpretentious freaks-and-geeks show, not a ceaseless charade of pretense about the vital artistic merit of mostly mediocre movies.
Usually, anyway. The 70th Golden Globes was fun for a while and then, like the Oscars, grew tedious because of an overdose of self-regard. Excuse me, but could anything be more fatuous than Jodie Foster marking her Cecil B. DeMille award (essentially a lifetime achievement award) by jawing on in some self-absorbed reverie about her privacy? Or could Anne Hathaway have been any more fake, actor-sincere by declaring, "Thank you for this blunt object that I will forever more use as a weapon against self doubt." See your therapist about the self-doubt, honey, and good luck with that.
The Globes broadcast was hosted by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, two creatures of television, both often super-funny in their work and, by reputation, super-nice. But by the time they started their jobs, many viewers had, of course, spent hours watching the frock-opera of the red-carpet coverage on the E! channel. That's the essential appetizer to the main event, an occasion for viewers at home to gawk at dresses and indulge in personal snark.
That part of the thing began weirdly. Ryan Seacrest, a man whose ostentatious lack of personality guarantees a long career hosting these things, first declared, "Here's some exciting news – Taylor Swift is coming and she's only stopping by E!" Taylor Swift? Take that, thespians, writers and directors. The Popsicle side of country music is what matters at this thing. Young TV viewers know who she is, you see.
There followed some highly enjoyable gawk-fest TV. Claire Danes, there because she was nominated for Homeland, appeared slightly deranged, indeed only slightly less so than her character, Carrie, on the show. She had apparently given birth recently, and that explained the fuss about her body size. Possibly it also explained her mental state. Nobody knows what caused her to start yakking about being based in Toronto while her husband worked here, and pronouncing it as "Toe-RON-toe" in a vaguely hysterical thespian manner.
There was the joy of the shoe-camera, the manicure-camera and the question, "What's in your purse?" There was the moment when Seacrest asked Swift if she was, perhaps, uncomfortable writing a song that was not about herself. The answer, bravely declared, was "no." Or Jessica Chastain in a dress that must have made people realize they had seen kitchen aprons that fit and draped better. I did. Oh the personal snark, it's contagious at these events.
Finally, the awards show was on. There was a single, fine joke from Poehler: "I haven't really been following the controversy over Zero Dark Thirty, but when it comes to torture, I trust the lady who spent three years married to James Cameron." After that, things went downhill, dangerously close to Academy Awards territory of ponderousness.
Maggie Smith got a deserved award for Downton Abbey, but couldn't be bothered to turn up. That was wise. She missed Kevin Costner being overly indulgent about the days when nobody knew him, and the standing ovation for Bill Clinton when he appeared to jaw on about the movie Lincoln, which only won one award and, frankly, sounds impossibly tedious. Also the failure of the teleprompter for the best television drama award and the groan-inducing speech by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association head, one Aida Takla O'Reilly. She opened with, "Would the camera please scan the room so the audience can appreciate the greatest talent in television and cinema." And the camera failed to comply. Which made one wonder whether Ricky Gervais was in the control room, having a laugh.
Lena Dunham won for Girls. That was nice. But why she was dressed up as a statue of Queen Victoria remains a mystery. A lot of it was a mystery, really. Especially why an event that used to be super-fun because it's super-dumb has become almost as no-fun as the Academy Awards.