By Jessica Warren
Black is the colour of mourning, and yet Hollywood needs to stop mourning and start moving towards a day where the industry eradicates the trail of sexual assault and misconduct that haunt its past. Following in reaction to the #MeToo campaign, the Golden Globes saw many high-profile attendees donned in black. The campaign began in 2017 and spurred the much-needed discussion surrounding widespread and unspoken sexual assault and harassment in and outside of the Hollywood film and television industry. In response to this, the decision to wear black was labelled as a protest against the well-known and yet often hidden cases of assault and harassment.
Whilst heralded by many critics as a revolutionary action, wearing black is not the solution to the problem. Following on from the revelation of many sexual harassment and assault cases, many actors and actresses alike have been asked to comment on their affiliation with the accused, with names including Harvey Weinstein, James Toback, Louis C.K. and Kevin Spacey. Kate Winslet is one of a few actors defending working with directors Woody Allen and Roman Polanski, both of which are accused of sexual assault of a minor. Her defence fell on a case of ignorance, stating “I don’t know anything, really, and whether any of it is true or false. Having thought it all through, you put it to one side and just work with the person.”
In this circumstance, ignorance is not bliss. Following Winslet’s statement, many have called her and others out on said ignorance. “The Marvellous Mrs. Maisel”, an Amazon series following a 1950’s housewife that becomes a comedian won the Globe for best TV comedy, Yet Ms. Sherman-Palladino, show creator, failed to mention Roy Price, who had helped on the series before resigning due to sexual harassment allegations. Clearly, there is still progress to be made in opening up discussion in Hollywood and further afar. Yet with cases and allegations flying around the dressing rooms, question arises as to whether this male dominated environment can change overnight. Arguably, it calls for a huge cultural shift in attitudes; whether or not this can be achieved by wearing black is another question.
Yet, amid all of the protests via clothing, awards were granted to shows and films with a female focus. The Handmaid’s Tale won ‘Best Television Series’ for Drama, and ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,’ won four Golden Globes, telling a story of a mother taking over her daughter’s murder investigation.
Other awards throughout the night include the Cecil B. DeMille award, named after the founding father of cinema in the United States. A title that in itself bears some weight towards the culture of male domination in Hollywood. Granted to Oprah Winfrey this year, she made a stirring speech about the “magnificent women…and some pretty phenomenal men” that have spoken up. She focussed on the idea of a new day, “when nobody ever has to say ‘Me too’ again.” Whilst being a rousing speech, it is important not to shy away from this elitist demonstration of feminist protest, and understand that issues of sexual assault assault are more widespread than the glamour of Hollywood.
Argument stands to reason that this ‘new day’ cannot be reached when actor James Franco, who has been accused of numerous cases of sexual misconduct, won a Globe for best performance in the comedy/musical sub-category for the film ‘The Disaster Artist’.
When both those accused and compliant in cases of sexual assault and harassment sit in a room alongside those dressed in black, the symbol of mourning resonates stronger than a symbol for activism and resistance.