Oh, Golden Globes. There’s something so endearing about your goofball fun. It’s enjoyable to watch famous people schmoozing in a way that they don’t at the more prestigious awards. The speeches tend to be looser and more irreverent. (Someone let Anne Hathaway know she’ll want to sound less stilted when she nabs her Oscar.) And since nobody takes them all that seriously, everyone seems to be having a better time.
Last night’s ceremony was no different. Our DVR went wonkus at random intervals, so we missed several chunks. And (I can’t believe this is happening to me) I actually went to bed before it was over. (That will not be happening during the Academy Awards, I hasten to assure you now, middle-of-the-night baby feedings notwithstanding.) But we saw a lot of it, and what we saw we mainly enjoyed. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler were a fantastic hosting team. Kristen Wiig and Will Ferrell were hilarious when they presented the Lead Actress in a Comedy or Musical award. (Psssst. Psssst. Tommy Lee Jones. It’s called a sense of humor. Look into it.) And I always enjoy a chance to look at Julianna Margulies’s husband.
And then there was Jodie Foster, who received the Cecil B DeMille Award for career achievement. I gather from my Twitter feed that there were people who found her acceptance speech powerfully honest and moving. I… am not one of them. “Crazeballs” would be more my take.
It was unapologetically egotistical. It was self-serious. It was rambling and incoherent. As I read on Twitter, it sounded like someone had removed every other sentence of her speech.
I hated it.
The part that I hated the most is likely what its boosters liked best about the speech, which was her non-coming-out spiel about protecting her privacy. I’ll grant that the whole “nutball with a gun shooting the President because he’s obsessed with you” thing makes Ms. Foster’s experience of celebrity uniquely horrible, and so I’m willing to cut her some slack.
Further, as I think I’ve already said before, I think being famous is awful for people. I think it corrodes and corrupts, and no doubt the loss of privacy and the chance that a show like “Family Guy” is going to say nasty, hateful things about you make it especially unpleasant. Frankly, being famous seems a lot like crystal meth to me. Probably a lot of fun right at the very beginning, rapidly becoming something all-consuming and life-destroying that’s really hard to quit.
But you know what? If you’re so jealous of your privacy, then you should quit. Go Garbo. If you spend your professional life going “lookit me, lookit me, lookit me!!“, then you really should understand that the people who’ve made a habit of looking at you will want to continue. If your career is spent cultivating the public’s fascination with you, expect that fascination to persist even when it’s inconvenient. Every job has aspects that suck. I certainly don’t love getting awoken at 2 AM to answer questions about how to dose Tylenol that could be answered by looking on the box. But I make a good living in a well-respected field and work at a practice that I love, so them’s the brakes. Considering that the perks of being famous include wearing fabulous clothes and jewels and getting into all the most exclusive, glamorous places whilst being paid obscene amounts of money to entertain people… well, if you don’t like seeing yourself on the cover of “US Weekly” (and who can blame you?), then go back to a life of obscurity. Send the Marchesa back to the studio, decline any more interviews, and look into a job in middle management. Ms. Foster’s gown probably cost more than a minimum-wage worker makes in half a year (or more). It’s a hard knock life for her.
What really galled me about her speech, however, wasn’t merely its self-aggrandizement and pious indignation. It was the sneering disdain that I (at least) perceived for those who have chosen to come out as gay or lesbian, with her barbed reference to press conferences and such. Pardon me for finding that a little bit nauseating.
First of all, a great many gay and lesbian celebrities have come out lately with hardly any fanfare at all. A mention in an article about a boyfriend, say. Heck, Anderson Cooper’s (unsurprising) coming out got a certain level of attention, but his manner of sharing the information was simply to have Andrew Sullivan reveal it on his blog. Hardly a splashy reality show. Ms. Foster could have come out in a similarly quiet manner.
But more than her straw man argument was her eliding the cost of silence. Blessedly, being gay or lesbian now is much less stigmatized than it used to be, and we’ve made enormous strides in a relatively short span of American history. That’s because people have come out, beloved celebrities included. Ellen DeGeneres will always be one of my heroes for so courageously, gracefully coming out when few stars of her standing were doing so. It made a huge difference in public attitudes, and I respect her tremendously.
At the peak of her fame, Ms. Foster’s coming out would have gone a long way. “The Silence of the Lambs” was a huge hit when I was in high school (and very much [ineffectively] in the closet]), and she was among the most acclaimed, sought-after actresses in Hollywood. Would it have taken a lot of guts to reveal that she was a lesbian? Of course! Was she under some kind of moral obligation to do so? I wouldn’t go that far. But she has no right to denigrate people who have chosen to reveal their LGBT identity, and I found her effrontery immensely distasteful.
The whole speech was a mess, and the most embarrassing celebrity display since Clint Eastwood had a conversation with an empty chair. That an actress of such talent can’t deliver a coherent speech in acceptance of an award from her community is surprising. That she was so utterly ungracious and self-congratulatory was terribly disappointing.
Update: I don’t always agree with him, but I am totally with Sully on this one.
Update II, the Revenge: Over to you, Gawker.