At last night’s Golden Globes, zero men who got up onstage mentioned #MeToo or the #TimesUp campaign that decorated many of their lapels. Some of them, smiling big for the camera in a sea of black dresses, had their own rocky histories to contend with; the awards show that was supposed to be a reckoning—and was, in many ways—still managed to house dueling realities.
Considering the initial, thunderous silence from men in Hollywood on the Weinstein allegations, maybe it doesn’t come as such a surprise that none of them (excepting Seth Meyers) seemed particularly interested in addressing the entrenched power imbalance that had given them a leg up onto that stage. What makes this moment even more surreal, though, is to recall the alleged activities and questionable career decisions that would make a fair number of them sound like ridiculous hypocrites if they tried to do so.
Let’s comb through a few, shall we?
Gary Oldman, who won a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture Drama for his role in Darkest Hour, accepted his award in a “Time’s Up” pin and with a reference to Winston Churchill, whom he portrayed in the film.
“It was great that words and actions could change the world—and boy, oh boy, could it use some change [now]. Thank you, Winston Churchill,” Oldman said.
In 2001, Oldman’s ex-wife Donya Fiorentino accused Oldman of hitting her in the face with a telephone receiver in front of their crying children. He denied the allegations and was eventually awarded sole custody, and his manager told the Washington Post that the alleged assault “never happened and charges were never filed.” Oldman, a libertarian, also called Nancy Pelosi a “fucking useless cunt” in a 2014 Playboy interview, and added of Mel Gibson’s infamous anti-Semitic rant: “He got drunk and said a few things, but we’ve all said those things.”
Next up we have James Franco who, while wearing a Time’s Up pin, used his acceptance speech for The Disaster Artist to do an impression of Tommy Wiseau next to Tommy Wiseau.
In 2014, Franco was revealed to have hit on a 17-year-old girl on Instagram, an episode that also did not prevent Saturday Night Live for booking him to host their Weinstein-themed show.
“I’m embarrassed,” Franco said at the time. “I guess I’m just a model about how social media’s tricky. It’s a way people meet each other today, but what I’ve learned is you don’t know who’s on the other end. I used bad judgment and I learned my lesson.”
In a series of since-deleted tweets, actress Ally Sheedy raised more questions:
At the end of his Golden Globes speech, Franco offered his most prominent thanks to Seth Rogen and his brother Dave.
“I always said I wanted my own Coen brother, someone to collaborate with,” Franco said. “I realize this year I had my own Franco brother. I love him more than anything.”
Thanks for your support, James—speaking of, onto woke ally Christian Slater!
Slater, who has been charged with battery, was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in a Television Series at this year’s Golden Globes.
From the Daily Beast:
Slater, who was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in a television series, was charged with one count of battery in 1997 for assaulting his girlfriend. In 2005 he was charged with third-degree sexual abuse, although the allegation was later dropped. When asked about his checkered past last year, Slater told The Daily Beast that, “I regret nothing.” When The Daily Beast asked Slater if he’d like a chance to clarify his comments, he erupted, “What a salacious cunt this guy is!”
But then again, Slater wore a nice pin last night. I feel empowered, don’t you?
Now, get a load of this guy:
After starring in alleged sexual abuser Woody Allen’s latest film, Justin Timberlake is out here cheesin’ in a Time’s Up pin like he’s clean as a whistle. Timberlake is just one in a long, long line of men and women actors who have gladly participated in Woody Allen projects, but that doesn’t really make it less stupid. Oh, he was also sued by anti-sexual assault foundation Take Back the Night in 2013 after he released a song called “Take Back the Night”—claiming to have never heard the phrase in its very famous context—that begins with the lyrics “Yeah, uh, feels good, don’t it?”
Whew! What we’re looking at here, instead of actual change, instead of functional solidarity, is a depressingly predictable mixture of cluelessness and outright disingenuousness dressed up in literal costume. Optics can be a powerful tool of change, but the discursive limitations of a red carpet protest can also grant cover for those who prefer the appearance of participation to its more difficult, potentially uncomfortable alternative. And for those types of people, time rolls blissfully on, just like it always has.