The Morse Code

Do Golden Globe actors continue to act off-stage?

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Justin Timberlake. Timothee Chalamet. Armie Hammer.

They have a few things in common. As stars of varying luminosity, they all have successful careers, which tends to earn them all seats at some relatively prestigious awards shows. They’ve all been formally recognized for their achievements in acting. They’ve also all worked with, defended, or are faithful friends of, men who have serious allegations of sexual assault against them; two are even currently signed on for Woody Allen’s newest upcoming project.

At the 2018 Golden Globes ceremony, all three were also all seen either wearing black, or sporting #MeToo, or #TimesUp pins, alluding to a movement dedicated to reaffirming victims of sexual assault. The subsequent outings of many well-known, powerful predators that came with the movement likely weren’t the intended outcome of the hashtag— more like a happy coincidence.

Woody Allen is a well-known director, accused of sexual assault or misconduct on multiple occasions, and, in spite of many who would argue otherwise, he’s not the issue. In a society that defends sexual abuse and its perpetrators with no real consequence, he’s merely a product.

Maybe it makes sense that when we do try to shed light on the issue, attempts can be a little misguided. Or, maybe, we should try and expect more from those on the level of the international, multi-platformed superstar— as many at the 2018 Golden Globe ceremony were.

Take actor Timothee Chalamet, for example. In spite of the resurgence of allegations stemming from Allen’s former step daughter Dylan Farrow, in which she accused Allen of molesting her, and the reevaluations contained within Allen’s personal files (Richard Morgan said it best in his Washington Post article: “[the files] revealed an obsession with young women and girls.”), Chalamet has happily taken up a job under Allen’s new TV series, Wonderwheel, and has blatantly avoided answering questions about his decisions to work with Allen in recent interviews. During the Globes, however, his stance on utter silence in the face of the current sexual assault cleansing in Hollywood, for a brief moment, shifted drastically; Chalamet performed an impressive bout of chameleoning with the way he disguised himself amongst the supporters of the #MeToo movement at the event, sporting a black suit and a pin that condemns sexual abusers with the threat that the time in which they could be awful with absolute impunity was coming to a swift end— an idea that his current director might not be too fond of. But as a staunch supporter of sexual abuse survivors, it’s only natural that he’d be working with Allen. What better way to show devotion to the cause than to work with, and continue to defend, an alleged sexual predator and his work?

The night of the Globes began with host Seth Meyers and his biting introduction. Included, were jokes about the current climate of Hollywood, the dwindling amount of men left who hadn’t been accused or charged with sexual assault, and how hard it currently was to be a man in the entertainment industry. He also engaged in a bashing of producer Harvey Weinstein, who had served as a sort of harbinger for the movement of outing and shaming predators thus far. This sparked a chain reaction. Soon, many other actresses and actors felt it was okay to invoke Weinstein’s name for casual denouncement. This was a shocking first.

“For some people watching at home, the pronouncements struck a hypocritical note. Weren’t some of these people the same ones who had been silent about Mr. Weinstein’s behavior for decades?” Brooks Barnes of the New York Times reports. Many of the most outspoken now have only stepped out from the shadows when everyone else began clamoring for the light.

But maybe hypocrisy is irrelevant. It certainly isn’t up there on the laundry list of pressing social issues that still need complex discussion. An easier topic might be the fashions of the night, shown off prominently on the Globes’ carpet. Gwendoline Christie made a statement with a black ball gown, and Kendall Jenner advocates for an excess of black tulle. And Amy Poehler, Emma Watson, Meryl Streep, and Laura Dern all brought along with them non-white activists— the must-have accessory of the season. Because instead of inviting these activists and their families as guests and giving them opportunities to speak out on their varying causes, they were brought as guests to be shown off and discussed, recognizable only by the actress whose arm they hung off of, meant apparently to serve as a stand-in for any actual work those actresses could have done to further whatever cause they stood for instead. Aside from the attention they garnered as an unusual accessory choice, they weren’t paid much attention. It’s almost like it was a hollow, meaningless gesture, done exclusively to make that respective celebrity look good. A bit… Performative. Imagine that.

Award shows have continued their slow decline into performative showcases in which stars take just a few nights a year to attempt to beef up their social credit without obligation to stay true to these actions once the night ends. Doing the bare minimum shouldn’t be awarded the way it’s being hailed as revolutionary now. Celebrities need to be held accountable for their actions, genuine and not— or, at the very least, need to be made to not think it’s okay to lie in support of a cause that their actions so blatantly contradict. And in the light of them doing so little, what they should actually be tweeting, (if they ever get around to actually exerting the effort to type in a few passive words of condolence), they should probably say something that speaks to just how much work they’ve put into the campaigning, and the advocacy, and the real fight that real people have started. Something that communicates to other performative celebrities, and reaffirms the hollow gestures they’ve all partaken in in an effort to show how much they care while doing next to nothing. Next time, to tie together the tiring performance in which they pretend to care, they should tweet #MeNeither.

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