quasi in rem

Sunday, January 25, 2004

The Golden Globes and Iowa Caucuses: Full of Sound and Fury and of Questionable Significance


The Golden Globes were on last night, and, unless you were expecting something other than a massive Hollywood vanity festival, rife with fake compliments and false senses of accomplishment, it did not disappoint.

The Golden Globes has long been the Iowa caucuses of the award show season. This first-of-the-season self-congratulatory back-slapper, features groups of unknown voters, in this case the Hollywood Foreign Press, who have little or nothing in common with the average American, yet who are given the opportunity join together in backrooms and alleys and decide, without actual consideration of anything objectively meritorious, who should be labeled a "winner." Often the Globes pick a winner who, while the darling of the Foreign Press, has no real national appeal and no real shot at being on the winning ticket at the more democratic Academy Awards. Finally, the Globes are a combination of television and screen actors and therefore, much like the voters in the caucuses, the Hollywood Foreign Press are often faced with a large cast of nonworthy nominees who seem to be participating in the process simply because they have nothing better to do.

For example, for several years now, Sharon Stone and Melanie Griffith have been showing up at the awards for no particular reason. Truly, they are the Dennis Kucinich and Lyndon Larouche of the award season. Are they nominated? No. Can they win anything? No. But has anyone in their lives had the courage to step up and tap them on the shoulder and tell them that the tribe has spoken? Unfortunately no. Hollywood would operate so much more efficiently if only Jeff Probst would visit these award shows and politely tell these aging actors and actresses, whoonly have USA movies of the week and guest spots on UPN sitcoms to look forward to, that they have been voted off the island. Good bye. Don't forget to stop by and let Joan Rivers critique your unfashionable dress on the way out.

Every year my wife and I watch the show and place award-by-award wagers on the winners of the dubious categories. Of course, on several occasions the selection becomes exceedingly difficult. For example, this year which transgendered cross-dressing saga on HBO should win for best television mini-series? I suppose I should not have been shocked when there was more than one to choose from, but color me mid-American, I was. So how does one pick? This year I went with the "straight" anti-war, anti-administration ticket. Anyone at the Sarandon/Robbins table was selected without question. Anyone in the widely panned Reagan miniseries was moved immediately to the top of the list unless, of course, the even more anti-Reagan administration mini-series "Angels in America" was in competition. Europeans, especially French or German actors, were given the benefit of the doubt. Sean Penn wins even if the category is best actress in a musical comedy. However this process made the selection for Best Actor in a Miniseries or Movie Made for Television next to impossible. The nominees in that category were Antonio Banderas, in And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself, who is European, but in the Coalition of the Willing. Also nominated was James Brolin, from The Reagans, who could be the obvious selection due to his daft and witless portrayal of the President. But also in the category, were two transgendered stars, including both Troy Garity, in the HBO story Soldier's Girl and Tom Wilkinson, in the equally sexually confused Normal. And finally Al Pacino, was nominated for Angels in America. I decided to stick with my guns and went with Pacino. Needless to say, I won our wagers easily.

Much like the Iowa Caucuses, the Globes often promote those candidates without much national recognition, but who could play a major role in future contests. For example, the Globes feature, as award holders, the daughters of Hollywood royalty, who themselves are not yet stars, but who one day could be. This year the royalty in waiting was Kevin Costner's daughter who was quite lovely. She also happened to look several years older than Costner's current companion or wife or girlfriend or partner or opposite gendered associate of choice or whatever the Hollywood establishment is calling such women today. My suggestion would be for future contests to switch these two roles and make the award presenters be the new girlfriends of recently divorced and aging Hollywood actors. These women are the real movers and shakers in the industry. The Catherine Zeta Jones's, Lara Flynn Boyle's and Calista Flockhart's of this world demand to be recognized, and deserve our adulation. If, for nothing else, the willingness to see old dudes in the buff.

In the end the Globes, much like the Iowa caucuses, settled on the old and established instead of the new and trendy in picking the Lord of the Rings. Perhaps the Foreign Press, much like the Iowa Caucus goer wanted to be associated with a winner, and electability, rather than the maverick. Or, perhaps, like much of America, they weren't running to the theatre to see Cold Mountain or Mystic River. Will the Lord of the Rings survive through the rest of the award season? Who knows, but it has survived the petty insanity that is the Golden Globes and next up is the Shire in New Hamp, where, I am told, several cast members in the movie are home town products.

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