The men showed up, as they often do to awards shows, dressed in black suits and tuxedos. This time, however, the color was a symbol of solidarity for women facing sexual harassment and discrimination. To make this perfectly clear, some men wore Time’s Up pins on their lapels — a show of support for the initiative launched by Hollywood women to combat sexual harassment and abuse in their industry, and in those that are not in the public eye.
But for the most part, the men did not speak about the symbols they wore. That job fell almost entirely to women.
This year’s Golden Globes was a reflection of Hollywood’s ongoing mass exorcism of the men who have sexually harassed and assaulted women, a movement that has spread from the downfall of Harvey Weinstein to several other major industries. And while the awards show reflected the power of this moment, it also reflected some of its problems. Namely, that the burden of fighting sexual harassment and abuse continues to fall upon women.
Seth Meyers’s opening monologue was almost entirely about the Me Too moment, from noting that it was kind of weird for a man to host the awards this year to joking that Weinstein will be back at the Globes “in 20 years, when he becomes the first person ever booed during the In Memoriam.”
It was a lead that few men followed.
Here’s an example: Justin Timberlake proudly showed off his Time’s Up pin in a tweet with the hashtag #whywewearblack. But instead of explaining why, he used the remainder of the tweet to let everyone know that he thinks his wife is hot.
The men who won awards Sunday night largely skipped the topic altogether in their acceptance speeches, perhaps feeling that their pins and tuxes were enough. In their speeches, James Franco, Ewan McGregor, Guillermo del Toro, Aziz Ansari and Sam Rockwell were among the winners who avoided the movement that otherwise dominated the evening.
There were exceptions, at least somewhat: Gary Oldman said that “words and actions can change the world, and boy oh boy, does it need some changing,” a general sentiment that could apply to sexual harassment and abuse. “The Handmaid’s Tale” executive producer Bruce Miller referenced the topic of the show that gave him the award. “To all the people in this room and this country and this world who do everything they can to stop ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ from becoming real,” he said, “keep doing that.”
After his win, Sam Rockwell was asked what else men can do to create long-lasting change in his industry but stumbled in his response. “I don’t really know the answer to that, but I suppose, I think really the issue is bullying. I think people have to stop being bullies.”
Meanwhile, many of the women who won Golden Globes used their time on stage to speak about gender equality, giving the awards show the bulk of its most inspiring moments. “Wow. The power of women,” Nicole Kidman said, accepting her award for best actress in a limited series or TV movie for “Big Little Lies.” Kidman continued, “I do believe, and I hope, we can elicit change through the stories we tell and the way we tell them.”
Oprah Winfrey, the first black woman to win the Globes’ Cecil B. DeMille Award, gave a powerful acceptance speech that brought the audience to its feet. “What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have, and I’m especially proud and inspired by all the women who have felt strong enough and empowered enough to speak up and share their personal stories,” Winfrey said.
Later, she added: “I want tonight to express gratitude to all the women who have endured years of abuse and assault because they, like my mother, had children to feed and bills to pay and dreams to pursue. They’re the women whose names we’ll never know.”
The conversation extended to the red carpet, where many A-listers who are a part of Time’s Up brought activists as their dates. Michelle Williams attended the show with Tarana Burke, the woman who founded the Me Too movement 10 years ago. In an interview with Ryan Seacrest, Williams repeatedly turned the conversation to Burke and her work, even as Seacrest tried to turn the conversation to Williams’s nomination.
“Really, the most exciting thing is that I thought I would have to raise my daughter to protect herself in a dangerous world,” Williams said, when Seacrest brought up the excitement of her nomination. “I think that because of the work Tarana has done and the work that I’m learning how to do, we actually have the opportunity to hand our children a different world. So, I am moved beyond measure to be standing next to this woman. I have tears in my eyes and a smile on my face.”
Seacrest then interrupted Williams to say it was “exciting” to see Burke at the Globes.
When men were asked about their black tuxes and Time’s Up pins on the red carpet, some had answers ready. “Yes, it’s important tonight but it’s important to follow through,” Denzel Washington said to NBC host Al Roker. “It’s important to see what’s going to be happening a year from tonight.”
Others revealed that they had little of substance to say, struggling to answer basic questions on what those symbols meant. “Good Morning America’s” Lara Spencer asked “Stranger Things” actor David Harbour a simple question: “Time’s up on . . .?” Harbour struggled to fill in the blank, so Spencer began suggesting answers for him: “Sexual harassment? Predators?”
Harbour, who was wearing a Time’s Up pin, settled on “women not getting the respect they deserve in the workplace.”
On Twitter, viewers who watched E!’s red carpet coverage noted that Seacrest seemed to be asking only women about Time’s Up and sexual harassment, while sticking to more comfortable topics like acting and the excitement of awards shows with the men he interviewed.
Things almost took a turn when Seacrest spoke to “Call Me By Your Name” actor Armie Hammer. At the end of their interview, Seacrest noted that the actor was wearing a Time’s Up pin. Then E!’s coverage quickly moved on.