Ricky the Rabble-Rouser: The 2011 Golden Globe Awards

Normally, watching the Golden Globes is a fairly solitary experience for me.

Sure, my parents or a few floormates would often be in the room as I liveblogged, livetweeted, or took notes during previous years, but the focus was on putting together short-form snark and long-form analysis of the night’s events. It was just me and the internet, as I awaited the (relative) flood of page views which come with writing about any event of this notoriety.

This year was somewhat different – I attended a lovely Golden Globes viewing party held at some colleagues’ home here in Madison, where the collective snark of my Twitter feed was replaced by the collective snark of a bunch of media studies grad students. We enjoyed some fine food, some fine wine, and I took advantage of being the only obsessive follower of award season prognosticators in order to win the prediction pool. While I have much love for the online community which has formed around this blog, and around my work in general, I will admit that there was something nice about being (largely) disconnected from the online snark in favor of a more interpersonal form of social interaction (which is perhaps fitting considering The Social Network’s dominance of the evening’s proceedings).

However, as a result, I didn’t quite have the time to prepare the lengthy analysis I might normally have written, and which I normally write much of during the show to facilitate its completion. Instead, I put together a more concise and focused piece on the evening’s reflection of ongoing questions surrounding the Golden Globes’ legitimacy over at Antenna. It’s a question that I’ve had on my mind for a while now, and something I wrote about at length for a term paper on the Emmy Awards last semester, but some of Ricky Gervais’ jokes at the expense of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association offered a nice entry into how precisely an awards show that nominates The Tourist, Burlesque and Piper Perabo can hold any sort of legitimacy within the industry.

The Gilded Globes: Legitimacy Amidst Controversy [Antenna]

Every year, the Golden Globes give us a large collection of reasons to dismiss them entirely. The Tourist and Burlesque are perhaps the two most prominent examples on the film side this year, and Piper Perabo’s Lead Actress in a Drama Series nomination for USA Network’s Covert Affairs offers a similar bit of lunacy on the television side. While these may lead us to dismiss the awards as a sort of farcical celebration of celebrity excess, the fact remains that the Golden Globes hold considerable power within the industry.

However, since the piece features very little of my opinion surrounding the night’s winners and this is likely why you’re here, some brief thoughts on Gervais and the awards themselves after the jump.

I did not find Ricky Gervais particularly funny, but I did not find him particularly offensive either. I’m glad to see that Gervais was willing to play with more subversive material this year after a subdued and unfunny performance as last year’s host, but I don’t think the material improved much outside of its willingness to push boundaries. Taking away the context of the occasion, the material was rote to the point of feeling stale, and the monologue in particular failed to capture the dismissive yet playful tone Gervais has when presenting awards. This was why I preferred his little bits when introducing the presenters, as it felt more interactive and less like a purposeful attempt to see how far the audience was willing to follow him (and offered a nice extension of his award show feud with Steve Carell). I don’t think Gervais crossed any sort of ethical line, perhaps because I hold so little respect for the Golden Globes in general, but my lack of a predisposition towards awkwardness-driven humor meant that the contextual nature of his commentary is something I find interesting rather than something I actually enjoyed.

As far as the winners are concerned, I don’t have any particular complaints. Sure, it seems ridiculous that Katey Sagal or anyone would defeat Elisabeth Moss considering the year she had on Mad Men, but taken out of the context of this year I am very pleased to see the Sons of Anarchy actress recognized for her tremendous work. And while I think Jim Parsons is increasingly becoming the only redeemable part of The Big Bang Theory, I’m pleased to see him receiving recognition for a consistently strong performance and was delighted to see that Kaley Cuoco brings out the best in Parsons just as Penny brings out the best in Sheldon.

Of course, having not seen Boardwalk Empire beyond its pilot, I cannot really speak to its victory in Best Drama Series or Steve Buscemi’s victory in the Best Actor category. Part of me sees its win as an extension of the HFPA’s fetish for that which is new and that which is on premium cable, and that Buscemi is a big enough name to be considered a “Movie Actor” who has graced television with his presence, but perhaps it truly was better than Mad Men this year and I just don’t know it yet. And while I would certainly argue that Glee didn’t have a particularly fantastic 2010, the lack of any of 2010’s actual best comedies (which would be Parks and Recreation, Community, and probably Cougar Town, in my opinion at least) in favor of a collection of average-at-best series meant that its victory is not quite an outrage, and I think it would be hard to argue that Jane Lynch and Chris Colfer haven’t done some fine work over that span.

In some cases, small fires help put out big ones: The Big C winning Comedy Series would have been horrifying, but Laura Linney winning Best Actress is logical enough, if not necessarily objectively accurate enough, to be found acceptable. With Perabo and The Walking Dead both shut out, there were no winners who seemed as if they were providing a picture of television’s quality which would unfairly suggest that the medium had an absolutely dreadful 2010 – instead, while the winners may not necessarily reflect my own tastes, the winners ultimately reflect a wide range of shows which have some degree of merit and seem an accurate depiction of the year in TV.

And that’s not so bad, is it?

Cultural Observations

  • As noted on Twitter, I am outraged that Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan were allowed to speak but Brad Falchuk was given no such opportunity. And yes, only Todd VanDerWerff and I probably even noticed such a thing – thus is the power the Three Glees holds over us.
  • No huge opinions on the film side, except that the Oscar race seems exceedingly boring: unless True Grit gains incredible traction, or The King’s Speech pulls out a Victory at the SAG Awards, it appears that The Social Network is walking away with this one easily.
  • It seems like the acting awards on the film side feature equally little room for movement: Firth and Portman seem like locks, while Leo and Bale are certainly positioned as frontrunners (unless True Grit’s continued box office success allows Steinfeld to give Leo a run for her money).
  • One of my favorite moments on the night: Jesse Eisenberg lifting Andrew Garfield up from his seat after both, initially, didn’t join the entire cast on stage as is award show tradition.
  • The biggest laugh of the evening was limited to my colleagues’ living room – in printing up the ballots, “Trent Reznor” had been autocorrected/typo’d to “Trant Razor.” I laughed every time I looked at it.


Filed under Award Shows

7 responses to “Ricky the Rabble-Rouser: The 2011 Golden Globe Awards

  1. Cameron

    I was outraged over Falchuk’s exclusion as well, but in spirit — I wasn’t live-tweeting the event.

    D’you really think The Social Network will walk easily at the Oscars? True Grit could still get solid locks for nominations, and Black Swan is an all-around fantastic piece of cinema. My mom and I both commented on the lead actor race, saying that just with the Golden Globes noms, the race is a tough one. I’m a bit more skeptical about TSN’s chances overall. I would love to be proven wrong; it was one of my all-time favorite films of the year.

    In any case, TV programming comes back in full force this week. The GGs were mildly entertaining for three hours; that’s all I ever expect of them.

    • Tausif Khan

      I don’t think the Oscar’s will pay as much attention to the social network. I think there more interested in high class work which is why they don’t pay as much attention to comedies. I think the King’s Speech will get more love at the Oscars.

  2. AO

    “I will admit that there was something nice about being (largely) disconnected from the online snark in favor of a more interpersonal form of social interaction”.

    You are turning away from anonymous internet commentators in favor of real, live human beings? What is this world coming to? 😉

    I skipped most of the GG’s (in favor of repeatedly watching the new Game of Thrones promo: entitled “The Game Begins”. Dear God that is amazing). But I did catch Jane Lynch’s acceptance speech and was surprised by her emphasis on Brennan’s contributions. I did hear her briefly mention Ryan Murphy, but I wasn’t sure that she mentioned Falchuck either? Perhaps I just missed it, but if not, that seems to me to be an interesting coincidence.

    • Not really a coincidence – Brennan is the one who created Sue, and who (according to Glee writing folklore) writes all of the Sue lines in each episode.

      • AO

        Thanks for the reply Myles. I heard her say that Brennan created Sue, but I had no idea that he supposedly writes all of her dialogue. I had assumed that that task was divvied up equally, and so I was a bit surprised. Obviously it makes more sense now, thanks again.

        • Tausif Khan

          Brennan was also the one that originated the idea for the show. He sold the idea to Murphy and Falchuck’s production company. Without Murphy’s name the show wouldn’t have gotten made.

  3. I am also here to comment on Falchuk’s exclusion, which I have been noticing since at least the Emmys. The guy has written a third of the episodes and directs just as many as Ryan Murphy, including such notable episodes as the initial thirteen’s finale (also writer), the back nine’s premiere, the first season finale (also writer) and the second season premiere. And he took over as showrunner when Ryan Murphy left for Eat, Pray, Love. I do wonder how much power he actually has. He is an executive producer and credited ahead of Di Loretto, while Brennan was only co-executive for the first season. And that “Brad Falchuk Teley-Vision” production company card flashes at the end of every episode, but the cast seems to mention Murphy far more often in the media.

    But Brad Falchuk will no doubt get his due come Emmy season for directing the Super Bowl episode.

    Having said of all of that, while I do agree that the comedy category at the Globes was seriously lacking in terms of who should have been nominated, Glee really needs to stop winning awards. That show is ridiculously uneven and just horrendous much of the time, increasingly as it progresses.

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