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Globes shed light on racial issues in Hollywood

by Kayla Green - Staff Writer
Mon, Feb 13th 2017 10:30 pm
Photo taken from Awards Watch on Twitter
Photo taken from Awards Watch on Twitter

 "So you're nominated for Hidden Fences..."

"...Octavia Spencer, Hidden Fences."

These two quotes are from the 2017 Golden Globes in January, in which the movies "Hidden Figures" and "Fences" were combined into one movie title, not once but twice. According to CBS News, the first flub was by NBC's Jenna Bush Hager on the red carpet to Pharrell Williams, and the second was by Michael Keaton during the actual live broadcast while announcing the nominees for "Best Actress in a Motion Picture." It is important to note that both of these movies feature predominately black casts and issues of race.

So, was this mistake happening to two movies with mostly black casts simply pure coincidence or does it make a louder statement about our country today? There are arguments for both sides. 

CBS News pointed out, "the mistakes were especially cringe-worthy because both of the nominated movies star some of Hollywood's most famous black actors and explore race issues in America."  

This is a good point; it is actually extremely embarrassing for the Golden Globes for this to have happened twice during the evening. I just have to wonder how hard it really is to remember the names of the two separate films. 

A Twitter user pointed out, "Somehow they never mix up 'The Night Of' & 'The Night Manager' but manage to utter #HiddenFences twice in live tv. #SoulGlobes #GoldenGlobes." 

This is a reference to two predominantly-- white television shows that are even more similar in title but yet were not combined or mixed up.

Keaton, who has a very limited social media presence and had no idea about Hager's mix up on the red carpet, felt very bad and apologized once he realized what he had done. 

"Those people in the movie who worked all that time in front of millions of people, I, like a jerk, screwed the line-up," Keaton said in an interview with Variety.  "What I always think about is they have mothers and sisters and brothers and fathers that are sitting at home waiting for them and watching them and this guy, me, gets up and gives the wrong title. That makes me feel terrible. You feel badly about those things."

I definitely believe that Keaton, as well as Hager, meant no harm whatsoever with the misspeak of the movie title but I do have my reservations about why this happened in the first place. It's a tough line between simply messing up and messing up because of societal influence and the way we think about movies with mostly-black casts. It's almost like this could have happened from people lumping these movies into one category, rather than letting them stand alone like the films with a more diverse or mostly-white cast.

Sesali Bowen of Refinery29 wrote about the "#HiddenFences" hashtag that blew up on Twitter after the awards show. 

"But for all of its comedic gold," Bowen said. "The funny commentary around 'Hidden Fences' is actually one example of Black Twitter digitally immortalizing the practice of laughing to keep from crying." 

This line hit home for me. Despite everyone laughing and trying to make light of the situation because, let's face it - it's so embarrassing that it's funny - and it is actually a deeply-rooted issue. For me, this issue is white privilege. 

Although Hollywood is overall a seemingly accepting place - just look at all the praise Meryl Streep received from her Golden Globes speech in which she took down Donald Trump. Actors and actresses still face the privilege problems that people everywhere else face. Ryan Gosling and Casey Affleck would never have to worry about their movies being pronounced as "La La Land by the Sea", for lack of a better example, because it would simply never happen. 

I have nothing at all against either of these actors, or movies, in fact I loved them both; but I also love the actors in the movies that were mixed up. Shouldn't all actors and movies be treated with the same respect? At the bare minimum, shouldn't they expect to be represented as their own entity rather than combined with another film that they have absolutely nothing to do with? 

Like I said, I'm sure both Hager and Keaton meant nothing malicious or racist by their slip-ups, but preventing these slip-ups from even happening is a small step we can take towards equality in Hollywood and this country.

 

kgree3@brockport.edu