Sunday night’s Golden Globes show was held up as the night of Golden Girls. Julianne Moore, 54, won her first award for best actress in a motion picture for the drama, “Still Alice,” beating out much younger competition.
In her acceptance speech, Moore said that Lisa Genova, the author of “Still Alice,” told her that no one wanted to turn her novel into a movie because no one wanted to see a film about a middle-aged woman.
Not enough moviegoers do, so Hollywood thinks, or there would be more of them. The Golden Globes prides itself on being hip, with-it and idiosyncratic, unlike the creaky Oscars. But as you watch the unscripted parts of the awards show, you are struck by what a narrowcast, vain and male-dominated business it is.
Check out the cringe-making acceptance speech of Dean DeBlois, director of “How to Train Your Dragon 2,” which won for best animated film. He droned on, and on, ignoring the woman who accompanied him to the stage. We never got her name or contribution.
As the band signaled time was up and DeBlois was leaving the stage, she awkwardly stretched her head down and over to reach the microphone to say what a thrill it was to be there. She was only taking her 10 seconds, but he made her look foolish for doing so.
It’s a shock to see older women on stage – because you don’t, unless they are among the rare few, like Moore, who receive awards. The female presenters are so young they could come out with a placenta attached. If Tina Fey and Amy Poehler weren’t hosting the 72nd Golden Globes, by my informal count, men would have spoken twice as much as women during the show.
Where else but the Beverly Hilton ballroom would the knee jerk reaction to a Bill Cosby joke be sympathy for Cosby?
“Into the Woods” is about “Sleeping Beauty just thinking she was getting coffee with Bill Cosby,” Poehler said, as she and Fey took turns mimicking Cosby in a Jello-Pudding Pop commercial (he “put the pills in the people”). The room eventually applauded but not before groaning first.
Hollywood says the reason there are so few roles for middle-aged women and so few women of any age being paid on a par with leading men (read the Sony emails) is that moviegoers want to see movies made for men, starring men, doing manly things, like shooting one another. The most treasured demographic is teenage boys, some as old as 40, with an infinite appetite for infantile masculine fantasies.
That would be a poor excuse even if true. Five years ago, women accounted for 55 percent of all filmgoers, a number that has declined since. Just a glance at the titles of recent blockbusters – “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Transformers” and “Captain America” – tells you why. How could an industry so straightforward in its cravenness, excuse me, sensitivity, miss what’s happening in the market it spends so much time studying?
Part of it is the slovenly ease of mounting formulaic tent pole sequels. But much of it is Tinseltown’s infantile male culture, much on display at Sunday’s big bash.
Note that the woman ignored by the “Dragon” director was short with gray hair, making her invisible to the naked male eye. Announcing that Jennifer Aniston was nominated for her role in the movie “Cake,” Poehler defined cake as a “fluffy dessert that people eat on their birthdays, and birthdays are things that people celebrate when they admit that they’ve aged.”
So few do. Women keep making the point. Men keep missing it. Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda – the Thousand Year Old Women since women in Hollywood age in dog years – parodied an excuse for ignoring women as comediennes as they gave the best actor in a TV comedy award to Jeffrey Tambor for “Transparent.” Props to men, they sang out, for successfully fighting the “negative stereotype” that men just aren’t funny. “You’ve come a long way, baby,” Fonda crowed.
Last year, Fey said that “Gravity,” was the story of how George Clooney “would rather float away into space and die than spend one more minute with a woman his own age.” This year, Fey said that Clooney would be getting the Cecil B. DeMille award and reeled off the stellar resume of his new bride, Amal Alamuddin. She “is a human rights lawyer, who worked on the Enron case, was an advisor to Kofi Annan regarding Syria, and was selected for a three person UN commission investigating rules of war violations in the Gaza Strip. So tonight her husband is getting a lifetime achievement award.”
In his presentation, former host Ricky Gervais mused that if there’s one thing he’d learned “it’s that famous people are above the law, as it should be.”
As with Moore, there was another moment in praise of older women when Patricia Arquette, 46, won her first Golden Globe for best actress for playing Olivia, in “Boyhood,” the story of a family filmed over 12 years. She plays a struggling, under- appreciated but loving single mother of a boy named Mason. He grows up. She ages. It’s a beautiful thing to see. If only there were more of it.
Margaret Carlson is a Bloomberg View columnist.