Ever wonder what really happens at the Golden Globes? Musician Amanda Palmer — who attended because her fiancé, Neil Gaiman, wrote Coraline — dissects the pathos, body-snarking, and judgment of the event. (And also illuminates what the bathrooms are like.)
Palmer's account of the night is in turns hilarious, biting, and cringe-inducing. Celebrities are apparently supposed to walk down the red carpets — plural; Palmer counted two at the Globes, and more at the after-parties — as if they were debutantes waiting to be asked to dance. It's up to the photographers and Giuliana Rancic types to make the first move: "if they care who you are, they yell, you turn, preen and pose, and all the other photographers next to your yelling photographer will chatter and twitter and decide if you're important enough for them to look away from who's coming down the pike," writes Palmer. "it's really, really weird." In a way, this makes sense: fame is a passive virtue, bestowed on its bearers by those around them. And the entertainment press apparently don't take kindly to role reversals:
i noticed a crew of bored-looking australian newspapers a few people down. mind you, they're all behind a little waist-high cattle wall. i hadn't been yelled at, but australians are generally friendly. i walked up to a woman, said hello, and started to chat up my upcoming tour dates in oz. the woman glared at me and hissed
"please back off. we're only talking with the real talent here."
Palmer makes a good guide to the Globes in large part because she's charmingly uninvested in the celebrity-industrial complex. Aside from Coraline, she had seen none of the films that were nominated, and she states outright she only watched it because of Gaiman's involvement. She runs into the kids from High School Musical and notes, "one was named zach."
there was a huge black dude at a table next to us and he had an awesome facial tattoo and i almost went up to compliment him.
he looked really familiar.
i found out a few days later it was fucking mike tyson.
The Globes are, of course, televised live, and this means that the audience, too, takes commercial breaks. It's kind of weird to think of Meryl Streep taking her breather during the ads, as you might be microwaving popcorn.
For the event, Palmer rented a beaded chiffon vintage dress that looked like something a flapper might have danced the Charleston to. Although a designer who reads Palmer's blog, and who unearthed the rented dress, also brought a variety of slips for her to try with it, she decided to go without. So Palmer walked the red carpet with the dress, and silicon nipple covers ("tit shields"), black underwear, and thigh-high stockings.
She also didn't shave her pits.
That these are hardly major departures from the beauty standards set for women — Palmer still attended the event in a conventionally beautiful dress, wearing high heels, with her hair and makeup professionally applied, and her arm hair is pretty faint; it's not as if she were wearing a Margiela human-hair coat and a shaved head — hardly matters. Cue the Internet outrage! For her choice of dress, Palmer was accused by gossip writers and commenters at sites like DListed of everything from the sin of trying to upstage her fiancé on "his" night, to that old standby, "fame-whoring." The fact that Palmer actually changed into a much more demure dress for the after-party went without comment, because the paparazzi didn't both photographing that.
Wearing a sheer dress isn't normally scandalous in Hollywood. In fact, when a starlet makes her body available to the viewing public in accordance with the entertainment industry's norms, it can be quite beneficial to her: think of the career boost J.Lo got after she wore that Versace dress to the 2000 Grammy Awards. But apparently, Palmer was doing it wrong. (Like she was wrong to approach that Australian journalist.) She wasn't aware of the "very, very narrow" conventions and etiquette of the Globes: "seriously," she writes, "these parties could have been straight out of 1956." And once these conventions have been violated, or even subtly challenged,
whether you're doing something deliberately saucy (like wearing a naked-dress) or something "normal" — but outside the beauty standard (like not shaving) — you're going to be accused by the peanut gallery of the same thing: FAME WHORING.
once again, it's A LOT like high school. there was such a strict code of sticking to the party line, and one step outside said line could cost you your social life. most important: if you stepped outside the party line, you would be accused not only of being a weirdo, but far worse: of being weirdo DELIBERATELY to get attention.
and to a certain extent, its true. you KNOW that by dressing expressively, you're asking for grief...just like any kid who decides to fuck what his friends are doing and swim against the stream is signing himself up for a school career of getting shit in the hallways, any celebrity who decides to present themselves outside the standard box will be confronted for "acting out" to serve their own, greedy personal needs.
It's a charge that gets leveled more often against women than men. In light of this, is it entirely coincidental that women screenwriters and directors have such a hard time in Hollywood? Is there no connection between codified displays of sexism like the criticism of Palmer (and of fellow non-shaver Mo'nique), and the codified displays of sexism that are 99% of "women's" movies, which as we all know take almost universally as their subjects shopping, babies, weddings, and shoes?
"i rarely shave," says Palmer, "and i thought this was a lovely time to do some feminine culture-jamming. god knows we need it."
Yes, we do.
Fame Whoring [Amanda Fucking Palmer]