Idol Chatter

The way a culture chooses to entertain itself speaks volumes. Our art is a mirror held up before us, and the reflections we choose to highlight show much about current mood of the nation. The 74th annual Golden Globes, hosted by Jimmy Fallon, was no different.

The annual ceremony in which the Golden Globe Awards are presented is one of the staples of the film industry’s award season, awarding the best of television and film, as chosen by the 93 members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

This year’s Globes ceremony, held on January 8th, began, tellingly, with Fallon taking a stab at Donald Trump’s controversial presidential victory, proclaiming, “Welcome to the Golden Globes—one of the few places left where America still honors the popular vote.”

Damien Chazelle’s romantic musical comedy-drama, “La La Land,” stole the show, winning Best Motion Picture—Musical or Comedy, and providing the theme for the Golden Globes intro sequence and continuing to be referenced throughout the show.

The musical, with its starry nights, sense of innocence, and old-movie feel transport viewers into an enchantingly romantic musical world, despite that melancholy ending.

In the context of the Fallon’s opening joke about Trump, the ubiquitous praise for “La La Land” reflects a hunger for joy and hope. 2016 was a difficult year for many Americans as the contentious nature of the presidential election drained the nation of happiness and frivolity.

But then along came a film that transported viewers into the feel of another age, giving them a glimpse of bittersweet happiness, lifting their emotions upward on the wings of music. And after such a tumultuous year, marked by divisiveness, call-outs, and ever-present social media rage, this is exactly what we needed.

Further, the emergence of a superhero film—a first— into the Globes in the form of 2 “Deadpool” nominations for Best Motion Picture reinforces this theme. Audiences want to escape into a world where evil is clearly defined and easily fought, as was the case in the Western films of old.

It was actress Meryl Streep, though, who simultaneously captured the anxiety of the old year and the desire for hope and joy for the new, in a moving speech as she accepted the annual Cecil B. DeMille Award. She challenged callous, divisive behavior and highlighted the value of the arts as an exercise in empathy, saying that “An actor’s only job is to enter the lives of people who are different than us, and let you feel what that feels like.”

She ended with a call to action, asking her fellow actors and actresses to remember the privileges and responsibilities that come along with their profession—audiences across the world are, for better or worse, inspired and bedazzled by them.

Her speech was a cry for unity, for empathy, and for the return of joy through peace—a desire felt by all on both sides of the political spectrum. It’s likely that the rest of the awards season, culminating in the Academy Awards on February 26th, will continue to reflect the nation’s desire to escape from what is currently a harsh reality.

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