While the Golden Globes offered Hollywood yet another chance to celebrate its stars’ accomplishments and cultural power, the mood for many at Sunday’s ceremony was somber.
It’s already an election year for a divisive presidency, and the impeachment of that controversial president is looming. So too is the threat of war with Iran. Many of the stars also were preoccupied by the devastating bushfires in Australia, where some of those stars have homes.
Yet, with all that’s going on in the world, host Ricky Gervais recommended that the celebrities in the room avoid making political speeches.
“No one cares about movies anymore,” the snarky British comedian said. “If you do win an award tonight, don’t use it as a platform to make a political speech. You’re in no position to lecture the public about anything. You know nothing about the real world.”
Gervais also accused some stars of being moral hypocrites because they sign multi-million production deals with streaming services like Apple, Amazon and Disney, which have been criticized for their unfair treatment of workers and other practices. “If ISIS started a streaming service you’d call your agent, wouldn’t you?” Gervais said.
But it appeared that a number of stars in the room were not in the mood to listen to Gervais. Moreover, some who received awards decided to use their moment on global TV to urge people to join them in advocating for certain political positions or to otherwise take steps to make the world a better place.
Climate change was a hot topic for several recipients and presenters, especially with a consensus of scientists saying that global warming is responsible for the hot, dry weather that is fueling Australia’s wildfires.
Australian actor Russell Crowe trumpeted this view, in absentia, when he won for best actor in a limited series or TV movie for playing the late, disgraced Fox News chief Roger Ailes in Showtime’s drama, “The Loudest Voice.”
Presenter Jennifer Aniston announced that Crowe couldn’t make it to Los Angeles for the ceremony because he was back in Australia looking after his family amid the fires. She then read his statement accepting his award.
“Make no mistake, the tragedy unfolding in Australia is climate-change-based,” Aniston said, reading Crowe’s words while becoming visibly emotional. “We need to act based on science, move our global workforce to renewable energy and respect our planet for the unique and amazing place it is.”
Russell Crowe got Jennifer Aniston to read out a climate change message about the bushfires at the Golden Globes, and honestly, what a lord pic.twitter.com/9L6OzEeETi
— Josh Butler (@JoshButler) January 6, 2020
This view was echoed by Ellen DeGeneres, Cate Blanchett (who, like Crowe, also hails from Australia) and Joaquin Phoenix.
Phoenix, who won best actor in a motion picture drama for his starring role in “Joker,” thanked the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for switching to a completely vegan menu for the first time in the awards show’s history. He then directly addressed his peers seated in front of him.
“We don’t have to take private jets to Palm Springs,” he said. “. . . I’ll try to do better, and I hope you will too.”
— Gabriel Hays (@ghays1492) January 6, 2020
Patricia Arquette, who won best supporting actress for the TV limited series “The Act,” also mentioned that “Australia is on fire” in her speech. But her political message focused mostly on condemning President Donald Trump for potentially leading the United States into war with Iran.
“In the history books, we will see a country on the brink of war,” said Arquette, a regular critic of the Trump administration. “A president tweeting out a threat of 52 bombs, including cultural sites. Young people risking their lives traveling across the world. People not knowing if bombs are going to drop on their kids’ heads.”
Perhaps the most stirring and potentially controversial political speech came from Michelle Williams. It was call for people to vote for political candidates who support women’s reproductive rights, without directly mentioning the word “abortion.”
While accepting the award for best actress in a limited series TV series for her turn as Gwen Verdon in “Fosse/Verdon,” a visibly pregnant Williams made the connection between her ability to pursue a career as an actor with a woman’s ability to choose to have an abortion.
“I’m grateful for the acknowledgment of the choices I’ve made, and I’m also grateful to have lived at a moment in our society where choice exists,” she said. “I wouldn’t have been able to do this without employing a woman’s right to choose: to choose when to have my children, and with whom.”
— Reese Witherspoon (@ReeseW) January 6, 2020
But predictably, not everyone was happy to hear Williams and other celebrities using their primetime moments to make personal or political calls to action. They invoked Gervais’ words as they took to Twitter to spread the #HollywoodHypocrites hashtag.
As the hashtag was trending Monday morning, it appeared as though some users simplythought that celebrities should keep politics out of awards shows. But some were pro-life, or were Trump supporters who think that celebrities are a bunch of out-of-touch liberals who should keep quiet because they lack any real-world experience in politics, governance or foreign policy.
TY! Sick to death of #HollywoodHypocrites – I stopped watching awards shows a couple decades ago when they got political. Just do your overpaid job. Nobody cares what you think. Ricky Gervais you’re awesome https://t.co/AMRAECOedr
— BethMRamsay (@BethMRamsay) January 6, 2020
Ricky Gervais is probably the best thing to happen to the #GoldenGlobes since they started preaching about being virtuous. He exposed these #HollywoodHypocrites for what they truly are. Hypocrites through and through, without a shred of sincerity (or even decency) in their bones. pic.twitter.com/dU4C3Y5Pau
— Fawning Girl (@FawningGirl) January 6, 2020
But as is the nature of Twitter, people criticizing the celebrities received pushback by those who said that stars, like everyone else, have a constitutionally protected right to express themselves. Moreover, they noted that Trump fans failed to see their own hypocrisy in supporting a former reality TV celebrity who lacked any real-world experience in politics, governance or foreign policy when he was elected.
I love how MAGA thinks Hollywood is inherently bad.
-Trump is a reality show host
-Trump bitched about his cameo being cut from Home Alone 2
-TWO members of the Trump administration have been on “Dancing with the Stars”#HollywoodHypocrites
— Santa Claus, CEO (@SantaInc) January 6, 2020
Telling people in Hollywood to stay out of politics but elected a legit reality star to run the nation really makes a ton of sense 🙄 #HollywoodHypocrites
— Briana Foster (@Briana_Leighh) January 6, 2020