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Golden Globes' blunder-filled broadcast was baffling after a year of other live virtual events

  • "Well, the BET Awards, Emmys, NBA Draft, NFL Draft, MTV Music Awards, Super Bowl, Republican National Convention, Democratic National Convention and at least a dozen other major live award shows and televised events from the past year all walked so that Sunday night's 78th Golden Globe Awards could fall flat on its face," says Daniel Fienberg of the 78th Golden Globes Awards ceremony. "If this were last April and the Golden Globes were the first show out of the gate, the brave pioneers battling dysentery and flooded rivers on the Oregon Trail of COVID protocol television, then it would be hard to quibble with the results. It would be easy to consider the garbled audio, the strange camera placements and movements and the inopportune cuts to irrelevant react-ers, and say: 'Man, that was rough, but you've gotta give the producers credit for handling a situation in which failure was inevitable.' Nobody here is so naive as to think the Golden Globes producers had it easy. However, I've watched most of those live predecessors and none were as full of rudimentary blunders as this telecast. One could make allowances if it seemed like the Globes were attempting new or innovative things within the format. But nothing in this show was appreciably more innovative than what the Emmys did five-plus months ago, and the Emmys nailed almost every challenge and avoided almost every disaster. The Golden Globes had a Zoom failure on the first award of the night and it basically didn't stop after that. There were speeches that were already in progress when the audio finally started, several more where ambient noise ruined sound levels. Then there was the superfluous 'playing off' of speeches; Nomadland directing winner Chloé Zhao was being drowned out even after the show had run long...To be fair, most of the goofs and blunders, the crackling mics and stagehands partially caught in shots, occurred in the first half of the telecast. The second half was smoother, and I wasn't being distracted by gaffes at every turn. That suggests a learning curve. Future award shows can look to the first 90 minutes of this Globes telecast as an absolute what-not-to-do. Or they could just look to the not-insignificant number of other shows that didn't make those mistakes the first time around."


    • The Globes put on a lazy, clueless ceremony at the wrong time: "In contrast to the Emmy Awards last fall, which harnessed the unsettled nature of the moment to do some truly novel things with the awards-show form, this year’s Globes seemed to attempt to force a show that rejected continuity into an uneasy familiarity," says Daniel D'Addario. "Part of that was at the production level: For instance, even though co-hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler were on opposite coasts, they were presented in an eerie and uncanny split-screen in an attempt to create the effect of artificial togetherness. When they, for instance, botched their joint introduction of honorary award recipient Norman Lear, it came as no surprise: By that point, the complete inability of the show to consistently deliver comprehensible audio had become one of the stories of the night. And perhaps, for the Globes, this was a welcome distraction. There was something perhaps too redolent of the Globes’ recent scandals about the evening’s first winner, Judas and the Black Messiah actor Daniel Kaluuya, being silenced for a time, delivering his speech mutely for a while before the connection stabilized. (There are serious logistical barriers in the way of a Zoom awards show; serious production teams, as at the Emmys, are capable of solving them.) Elsewhere, baffling production choices like keeping all nominees in major categories onscreen to clap and smile mutely as one gave an acceptance speech, and strange snafus like the deafening background noises drowning out winners like Catherine O’Hara, kept the story on the show rather than its substance. It can’t have been an intentional strategy — who’d choose to create a disaster? — but it was in some ways an effective one. This show had little to say for itself, so better, perhaps, to let loud noises blare. The fundamental unseriousness of the Globes has always been its selling point, and — as the show has, despite or because of its frivolous nature, become the most important watering hole on the road to the Oscars — its problem. The fact that the ceremony itself stands for nothing was why, for instance, the talent attending the show three years ago managed to hijack the proceedings and turn the evening into a provocation, a from-the-ground-up all-black-gowns protest on behalf of #MeToo and Time’s Up. It’s also why, in happier times, the show gets defined by its audience in a less thorny manner, with the interactions and alchemical reactions between people sharing a hotel ballroom meaning more than who literally wins or loses. A show with basically no format other than letting the camera roll, one that gives no real counterweight to anything that happens on its air, needs some external force to define it."
    • It's not Tina and Amy's fault that the Golden Globes were always going to be a disaster: "Unfortunately, the damage had been done long before Fey and Poehler stepped onto their color-coordinated stages," says Judy Berman. "For years, the awards-industrial complex has faced credible accusations of racism, sexism, provincialism, commercialism, devaluing real art, gamifying creativity, ruining theatrical-release calendars and more. But the HFPA—a mysterious 87-member organization known for its idiosyncratic choices—has an even shakier claim on authority than the other major entertainment awards, which at least reflect the tastes of much larger and more legitimate voting bodies. That was before the recent L.A. Times exposé that probed the HFPA’s apparent conflicts of interest, self-dealing, culture of expensive freebies (including a lavish junket for one of 2021’s shoddiest nominees, Emily in Paris) and other ethically shady practices...Add to those scandals a COVID-necessitated virtual telecast that precluded both the usual pleasures of watching glitzily attired famous people get trashed together and the fashion show that is the red carpet (though this didn’t stop E! from airing four hours of pre-show coverage), and even the most nihilistic sort of enjoyment felt elusive."
    • The Globes completely botched its diversity scandal: "Even grading on the curve of an attempt to stage a live production like this during the pandemic, the Globes failed to meet even the lowest bar," says Kevin Fallon. "The irony is that this year’s hideous mess of a telecast did actually make the case for why award shows matter. An explosive speech on the power of storytelling, diversity, and major platforms by Jane Fonda. The authenticity of stirring moments from the likes of Minari director Lee Isaac Chung and Nomadland director Chloé Zhao in their historic wins. The strength and inspiration of Chadwick Boseman’s widow Taylor Simone Ledward. Or the grace and forward thinking of a community of diverse creators who, while bruised by the myopia and narcissism of an influential organization too inept to mint its potential for good, still showed up for a complicated pandemic award show because they at least knew the power of the stories they were telling. (And, sure, also like winning trophies.) But the point is that, in relying on the labor of others—particularly women and people of color—to do the work it should have been doing all along, the Globes has embarrassed its reputation beyond the forgiveness its designation as 'Hollywood’s boozy and kooky nonsense party' has warranted in its past. If now is not the time to sober up and detail a plan of action, then when?"
    • The Globes ceremony only served to make last fall's virtual Emmys ceremony more impressive: "All in all, the pandemic edition of the Globes was a mess, just not the kind we’ve come to expect through years of slurred speeches and off-the-wall picks," says Alison Herman. "Right off the bat, Daniel Kaluuya’s audio cut off as he was trying to accept his award for Judas and the Black Messiah. Later, Poehler and Tina Fey, jointly emceeing from auditoriums across the country, mistimed their presentation of a lifetime achievement award for Norman Lear. Entire slates of nominees were forced to awkwardly banter before commercial breaks, prompting Sarah Paulson to break glass in case of emergency and bring out her dog. Last fall, the Emmys proved it was possible to lean into the awkwardness of a socially distanced awards show and come out ahead. Months later, the Globes inadvertently showed just how impressive that accomplishment truly was."
    • NBC’s telecast felt like an awkward, half-assed attempt by the HFPA to apologize, push past problems, and get back to business as usual: "While the diversity issues cited in those recent reports was brought up regularly (though still not often enough), nothing was said about the allegations of bribery and further misconduct that would dissuade any self-respecting journalist from joining this group anyway," says Ben Travers. "Even if you managed to block out the framing of this year’s show (as many have been doing for years), it wasn’t easy to actually enjoy what you were seeing. From the show’s direction, which included multiple shots of not-so-behind-the-scenes stagehands, to its paltry excuse for an actual apology, the 78th Golden Globes, at best, hid its issues behind a wall of celebrities, and, at worst, threw those celebrities under the bus. The chaotic evil energy started with the first award, when semi-surprise winner Daniel Kaluuya won for Judas and the Black Messiah and someone forgot to un-mute his microphone. Forget for a second that’s Zoom 101, and we’re in Month 11-ish of pandemic; turning on his microphone is quite literally the only thing the production has to make happen in that moment. But OK, one mistake, one glitch, they eventually got back to him, so let’s move forward. John Boyega won for Small Axe! And… no one told him what to do. I’m sure every actor dreams of winning an award on national television and starts that acceptance speech with: 'Do I just talk?'"
    • Glitches made this year's Globes endearingly messy: "Instead of turning the Golden Globes into an insufferable night of out-of-touch frivolity, the technical difficulties, flubbed pronunciations, and messy structure somehow humanized the event," says Brandon Katz. "Against the backdrop of this chaotic year in entertainment, it resulted in an unexpectedly pleasing ceremony improved by its very imperfection."
    • NBC deserves credit for pulling off a "one-of-a-kind" telecast: "Tina Fey and Amy Poehler did a nice job hosting the first-ever virtually telecast Golden Globes Awards in a huge 'consider the circumstances' kind of way," says Michael Starr, adding: "When all was said and done, those technical glitches were few and far between. A lot that could have gone wrong, didn’t. Kudos to the show’s executive producers, who used modern technology cleverly and to the viewers’ advantage almost without skipping a beat."
    • The Globes were the wrong king of mess: "The Golden Globe Awards are known for their messiness: the public displays of drunkenness, the unpredictable winners, the crowd reaction shots that inevitably become GIFs and memes," says Jen Chaney. That chaotic energy is what distinguishes the Golden Globes from every other awards show, something Amy Poehler acknowledged during Sunday’s broadcast on NBC of the 78th annual Golden Globe Awards. 'Those are the messy things we love about the Globes,' Poehler said about midway through the broadcast, after her co-host, Tina Fey, mentioned a few unpredictable incidents that had already occurred, such as Tracy Morgan Adele Dazeem-ing the name of the movie Soul, a word that consists of a single syllable. A lot of the Golden Globes was indeed messy this year, but not necessarily the good kind of messy."
    • Even with living-room champagne, teleconferencing is still teleconferencing: "Like a lot of our mediated experiences over the last year, the night begged to be rated on a curve," says James Poniewozik. "It was more often fun in a 'Good for them for giving it a shot' way. (The sketch with medical professionals giving celebrities telehealth advice? We have already asked too much of essential workers this year.) Even with living-room champagne, teleconferencing is still teleconferencing. We’ve spent a year staring at celebrities on screens. Spending a night watching them stare at each other, in the excruciating pre-commercial multiscreen hangouts, is not quite a fabulous escape. We get enough disjointed Zooms at work and school. (Alas, we cannot play those off when they run long.)"
    • This year's Globes ceremony was like an edge-of-your seat bleak psychological thriller: "The Golden Globe for Best Television Series, Drama, went to The Crown this year, despite the fact that it clearly should have gone to the Golden Globes," says Rachel Handler. "Never have I been more profoundly anxious and disturbed while watching television than I was during Sunday night’s three-hour stretch of pure, uncut lunacy put on by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, who are famously bad at recognizing good art but apparently incredible at accidentally creating it. The Globes always flirts with chaos — usually by plying their hungry attendees with alcohol and then mocking them in front of an audience of millions — but this year, as said attendees Zoomed in from around the world in various combinations of couture and wrinkled pajamas during an unprecedented global health crisis, the awards ratcheted the anarchy up to 11, unintentionally producing one of the best psychological thrillers I’ve ever seen."
    • Why Jason Sudeikis accepted his Golden Globe in a tie-dye hoodie: The Globe-winning Ted Lasso star was supporting his sister's dance studio. “I think you gotta look back at Audrey Hepburn for Funny Face — she also wore a hoodie," Sudeikis later joked. “No, that’s not true. “I believe that when people that you care about do cool, interesting things, you should support them. ... I have a multitude of hoodies I could have worn for a multitude of things I believe in and support, and this one seemed the most appropriate.”
    • Led by The Crown, the British took home 40% of the Golden Globe awards are earning 25% of the nominations
    • Tracy Morgan apologizes for his Adele Dazeem moment mispronouncing Soul as "Sal"
    • Jane Fonda delivered a better speech on inclusion and diversity than the HFPA did
    • Jason Bateman filmed his Golden Globes appearance from Jennifer Aniston's house
    • Mad Men's January Jones and Kiernan Shipka rewear their Golden Globes outfits from a decade ago
    • Ranking the best celebrity Zoom backgrounds from the Globes: Al Pacino is No. 2

    TOPICS: Golden Globe Awards, NBC, Amy Poehler, Jane Fonda, Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Tina Fey, Tracy Morgan, Award Shows, Hollywood Foreign Press Association