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The Inspiration and Disappointment of the Golden Globes’ Red Carpet

Leading up to Sunday’s Golden Globes awards, there have been criticisms of the night’s planned
“red carpet blackout”–the decision of women and men in the industry to wear black to the event–and questions of how big of an impact a fashion-based silent protest could actually make?

But the protest on the red carpet was anything but silent. The pre-show interviews were a welcome change, much less “who are you wearing” and more “why are you wearing?” The message was repeated by star after star: women are no longer tolerating the imbalance and abuses of power, not just in this industry, but all industries, all over the world. They mourned the work the world will never see from brilliant and talented women denied what could have been in their careers if not for abusive men. They spoke of the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, which as of this writing is just shy of its $16,000,000 goal to help women fight sexual harassment, assault, and abuse in the workplace. For all the worry that the all-black red carpet would lead to a funereal feel, the actual result was a demonstration of strength and passion.

Also inspiring was the decision by a number of women to bring activists as their dates.

Meryl Streep brought Ai-jen Poo, director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and co-director of the Caring Across Generations Campaign. Emma Stone brought Billie Jean King, the tennis star and gender equality activist she portrayed in Battle of the Sexes. Emma Watson brought Marai Larasi, the executive director of Imkaan, an organization dedicated to addressing violence against black women and girls, and the co-chair of the End Violence Against Women Coalition. Laura Dern brought Mónica Ramirez, co-founder of Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, fighting for the rights of farmworkers. Amy Poehler brought Saru Jayaraman, an advocate for equality and safety in the restaurant industry. Susan Sarandon brought community organizer and independent journalist Rosa Clemente. Shailene Woodley brought Calina Lawrence, a Native American advocate. Michelle Williams brought Tarana Burke, the original founder of the #MeToo movement.

There were many who thought that it would have made for a stronger protest if these actresses had stayed home, boycotting the event entirely. However, when women have been held back for so long, kept from progressing to the full potential of their careers, a boycott would send a statement, but visibility is also power.

Kerry Washington said in her red carpet interview, “We shouldn’t have to stay home, to give up our seats at the table because of [men’s] bad behavior.”

At the same time, this was still a Hollywood awards show red carpet, and that comes with some hard habits to break.

Like, for instance, the commodification of a movement, creating a specific brand of glamourized activism far outside of most people’s reach.

Most notably, red carpet reporters are largely ill-equipped to handle the subjects they’ve been forced to talked about.

Clearly, they had been coached and prepped with questions and conversation topics for the women attending. But when it came to talking to the men, the conversations came up disappointingly short. There was either no mention of the movement and its representation in their outfits and the Time’s Up pins so many donned, or at best, there were some glib quips referencing the issues.

On top of that, I’ve written here before about the potential shallowness of men’s participation in this movement. It’s easy to wear a pin. When these men were barely asked to even say a word about a simple accessory, they risk undermining what it represents.

What did you think about the Time’s Up statement on the red carpet?

(image: GoFundMe)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) has a lot of opinions about a lot of things. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband Brock Wilbur and too many cats.