There are not many awards shows I enjoy. Let’s face it; they are largely self-congratulatory with over-the-top pomp and circumstance; yet this year’s 72nd Golden Globes felt different. I’ll get to the fabulous gowns and sparkly tuxes in my style post, but right now I want to talk about the brilliant speeches that took place last night.
When actors take on major roles and scenes that address complicated issues and/ or moments in our history it’s as if they develop amnesia on the long walk from their seats to the stage where they get to collect their awards. They seem to forget that for the world they have become the ambassadors of that particular cause and issue. Providing them with the awesome opportunity to highlight the importance of their role in shifting hearts and minds during their acceptance speeches.
Last night, as my wife said, were the most diverse and conscious awards we’ve seen in sometime. From rape culture to feminism to transgender equality and racial justice the winners let us know where their hearts and minds were.
Unfortunately, rape culture has been a constant in the news over the past few years and most recently with the Bill Cosby fiasco. So, when Joanne Froggrat, the winner of Best Supporting Actress, for her role in Downton Abbey talked about the pain of victims of rape not being heard or seen it brought tears to my eyes. In her speech she brought victims of rape into the room with who felt compelled to reach out to her after witnessing her character’s rape on the show. Froggart’s speech was powerful and important. For her it may have been a role and an opportunity to showcase her acting chops; but for far too many women around the world, the pain that she exhibited on screen is their lived reality. Her speech and recognition of their pain—and allowing them to be heard through her was superb.
While the film Selma didn’t win last night, Common’s speech for winning Best Original Song alongside John Legend absolutely did. It’s so good I can’t even paraphrase it just listen for yourself:
Just a few years ago the word transgender would never have been uttered on television, let alone at an awards show. While the larger gay community is making great strides across the country, the transgender community is still working to be seen as people. Last nights major wins by the groundbreaking Amazon show Transparent, brought the community into the spotlight. Winning for Best Television Series—Comedy or Musical, transparent creator Jill Soloway dedicated her award to Leelah Alcorn, the transgender teen who took her own life a few weeks ago. She said, “I want to thank the transgender community. They are our family. They make this possible. This award is dedicated to the memory of Leelah Alcorn and to many trans people who died too young.”
These awardees were thoughtful and used their moment in the sun to bring light to the communities and people whose shoulders they are standing on. I’ve often said that stars have an obligation to use their platforms for more than partying and selfies and last night they proved that they are indeed deserving of the spotlight. Newcomer Gina Rodriguez the star and Golden Globe winner for her leading role in Jane the Virgin’s speech brought tears to my eyes. Take a listen:
Her speech summed up the night. America is a diverse and complicated country whose citizens are hungry for relevant and thoughtful portrayals of our diverse communities. Media has the power to be a tool of change—let’s hope that last night’s speeches of consciousness rising will become our new normal.