I have the feeling that Hollywood awards shows enjoy a robust secret life of viewership among radicals and assorted cultural snobs—it’s like that impulsive, furtive dash to McDonald’s in the dead of night, driving you almost without will or consciousness to line up for that Big Mac and fries, wracked with at least one evening’s worth of self-loathing in the aftermath of this crime against your and the planet’s well-being. With the Oscars and Golden Globes, it’s only two nights of malicious ogling and masochistic stupefaction per year, so you say, what the hell, and jump in, knowing that these are six or seven hours of your life irretrievably lost to eternity.
Seldom, however, has an awards show served up such a sumptuous feast of elite self-aggrandizement as this year’s edition of the Golden Globe awards, dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equally predatory and all women equally victimized, and that the big-corporate morass of TV/movie commercial “product” is worthy of three hours of momentous self-congratulation and verklempt thanking of agents, spouses, children, parents, and beneficent heads of giant studios. Swathing themselves in obscenely expensive designer black is a close to an insurrectionary gesture as the rich, beautiful, and erratically talented entertainment elites will ever allow themselves—other than chanting “I’m with her” while stumping for the corrupt war criminal of their choice who at least has the good taste to seem merely callously robotic rather than overtly boorish.
This past Sunday night we were put on notice that these glamour leaders will absolutely, positively, never ever tolerate so much as one additional wayward flirtatious word, glance, or deed from any male toward any female but will nevertheless celebrate the serving up of the planet on a gold-trimmed platter to the rapacious billionaire class that finances their lush life (Jeff Bezos—the world’s riches man, Big Brother of all things retail, and movie and TV producer—was there to shame the mere small-time billionaires and hundred-millionaires into mincing obeisance and humility). Hence this year’s edition of the Golden Globe awards: where making crappy commercial movies and hypocritical moralizing by super-rich narcissists attain the same gravitas as discovering a cure for cancer.
But the florid self-importance did not end there: this year’s ceremony marked the maiden public voyage of the Oprah for President bandwagon. Just when you thought that American politics could not possibly degenerate any further into PR imagery, personality cultism, and identity- politics symbolism in order to divert attention from the real crises facing the human race, these elite desperadoes will see you and raise you. With the advent of Oprah, the political science of emptiness plumbs new depths of style over substance, groupthink over reason, bathos over compassion—the basic Hollywood formula since the advent of moving images.
I harbor enough guilt just from being Jewish; I don’t need three hours of hectoring from Oprah and Babs—the royalty of neoliberal aristocracy—and the rest of the black-clad, bejeweled, private-jet “activists.” When the fatuous billionaire Oprah—who leapfrogged to world renown and obscene riches by sadistically parading the desperation and emotional dysfunctions of the underclass on her TV show—was heralded with a reverence normally reserved for saints and deities, and then had the chutzpah to equate herself with Rosa Parks, I finally felt the gag reflex kicking in. The amount these people spend annually on cosmetic surgery alone could finance a debt-free college education for the entire high school population of Los Angeles.
The whole sickening spectacle put me in mind of The Day of the Locust—and made me vow never to buy another Big Mac or watch another awards show . . . until next year.
William Kaufman is a writer and editor who lives in New York City. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org