Donald Trump wins when we don’t call him out

As the #MeToo movement gained momentum, the harasser-in-chief’s name was not mentioned once at the Golden Globe Awards


Donald Trump emerged as the big winner at Sunday’s Golden Globes presentation, as the movement to end sexual harassment received plenty of air time and he was almost completely ignored. He’s so narcissistic that he’s probably angry about it, wanting to be the centre of attention and all that.

Remember that after last year’s ceremony, in which Cecil B. DeMille winner Meryl Streep’s passionate speech about empathy referenced him several times, he tweeted that she was an overrated actress. This year he has nothing to tweet about – as the night wore on, he got a mammoth reprieve.

He should be relieved. It may be that there was a collective agreement not to talk about the president lest he get all the attention on a night that needed to focus on women and their safety. And it’s certainly true that Trump has shown the capacity to take real advantage of flack hurled in his direction, pumping up his very receptive base any time someone goes after him.

If it were a matter of stars refusing the opportunity to criticize a president’s racism, sexism and classicism, I might accept that explanation. But Trump is a self-described harasser and therefore totally relevant to the issue Time’s Up wants to bring to the forefront. This is the “grab ’em by the pussy” guy and a political leader who has been accused by several women of inappropriate sexual conduct. And they wouldn’t have had to hammer away at it.

A quickie comment drawing attention to sexual assault allegations against Trump would have done it. He deserves to be called out.

As it was, it was night of strong female solidarity. You didn’t get the full measure of it unless you watched the two-hour red carpet segment preceding the actual awards ceremony. Instead of being asked “Who are you wearing?” the mostly black-clad stars were asked “Who are you with?”

In a genius move, powerhouse women supporting the fledgling Time’s Up initiative – in which wealthy celebrities are donating money to support women in marginalized populations (office cleaners, hotel workers, etc.) – dumped their usual plus-ones in favour of impressive activists.

Tarana Burke, originator of the #MeToo movement, came along with Michelle Williams. Emma Watson brought Marai Larasi, the executive director of Imkaan, an org that addresses violence against Black women. Amy Poehler’s date was Saru Jayaraman, workplace justice activist for restaurant workers, while Meryl Streep strolled the red carpet with Ai-Jen Poo of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and Laura Dern brought president of the National Farmworker Women’s Alliance Mónica Ramírez. You get the picture.

Too bad those stars, all of whom hit the stage at one point, didn’t give a shout-out to their dates. Just name-checking them and their organizations would have been enough to give them valuable attention from millions of viewers.

Coincidentally, most of the big Golden Globe winners came out of women-powered shows or stories. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, about a woman wanting justice for her raped and murdered daughter, was a multiple winner. The female-driven series Big Little Lies took three acting prizes and best television limited series or motion picture made for television, The Handmaid’s Tale took two awards and Lady Bird was a two-time winner.

Frances McDormand, Dern and Elisabeth Moss all spoke eloquently about female solidarity. (Moss, it should be noted, got bashed on Twitter for being a member of Scientology, which, the tweeters allege, is famous for ignoring harassment within its own organization.)

I wish the men at the podium had shown some spine of their own. I kinda pitied host Seth Meyers. He was stuck with the gig, having accepted it long before Harvey Weinstein became the wrong kind of household name. He did mention the Time’s Up initiative, though I’m not sure why he singled out Kevin Spacey – I’m always sniffing homophobia when anyone picks him out from among dozens of straight predators. Meyers referenced him twice with a House Of Cards comment.

And as NOW’s senior film writer Norman Wilner rightly noted, Aziz Ansari, best actor in a musical or comedy series, and James Franco, best actor in a musical or comedy, said nothing relevant to the movement. Please don’t leave all the work to women.

As for this year’s Cecil B. DeMille Award winner Oprah Winfrey, she rocked the house with her own powerful speech, completely on point.

But even she didn’t mention Trump. I wish someone would have just said something like, “Feeling left out, Mr. President? Twitter finger itchy? No one’s mentioned you once. But it was time to put the spotlight elsewhere. Don’t worry – we’ll get you next year.”

movies@nowtoronto.com | @susangcole

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