Why Wearing Black Dresses to the Golden Globes was Actually a Sign of Weakness

The actresses flowed down the infamous blood red carpet, spruced up in sparkling black against black. Where were the pink satins and emerald sashes? Normally a flock of parrots, these women were ravens last night, dressed in all black at the Golden Globes 2018 Awards ceremony. The blackness intended to symbolize solidarity in a movement against sexual harassment and gender oppression in the Hollywood industry.

The actresses flowed down the infamous blood red carpet, spruced up in sparkling black against black. Where were the pink satins and emerald sashes? Normally a flock of parrots, these women were ravens last night, dressed in all black at the Golden Globes 2018 Awards ceremony. The blackness intended to symbolize solidarity in a movement against sexual harassment and gender oppression in the Hollywood industry. The uniform has undoubtedly sparked discussions, spotlighted the problem and poured out of the media. There was less talk about Dolce and more talk about the #metoo movement and how #timesup for change. But was a dress code the best way to speak out? And was black the best color for the job?

In the midst of this honorable and fashionable message was plenty of room for critiques and potential improvements. Some of which I came across this morning on the Megyn Kelly show which featured Melissa Rivers and Robin Givhan. Megyn Kelly asked the question, is this dress code simply too little too late? Kelly brought up a few interesting points. She noted some of the hypocrisy such as Hollywood’s continuing relationship with pedophile, Roman Polanski, and James Franco’s best actor in a comedy/musical award. Franco, who once tried to meet up with a 17 year old girl at a hotel, sported a “Time’s up” pin. Ally Sheedy from The Breakfast Club, who worked with Franco in 2014, momentarily tweeted about the ceremony, “Why is a man hosting? Why is James Franco allowed in? Said too much.”

Kelly added further critical insight when she wondered why some of the pioneers of this Hollywood take down were not invited or mentioned such as Rose McGowen and Mira Sorvino. Kelly, however, applauded Natalie Portman’s practical comment when she introduced the nominees for best directors. Portman said, “Here are the all male nominees for best director.” Kelly acknowledged Portman’s witty observation, and pointed out that even in the splendor of all this glimmering black, only males were nominated for best director, highlighting the lack of women in the director’s chair. Kelly’s guest, fashion critic, Robin Givhan, felt that the color, black, still did not undermine society’s need to hyper observe and scrutinize women’s appearances. The marketing of fashion was still deeply embedded in the message. In line with Givhan’s comment, I found myself annoyed that many of the women in attendance in black still wore extraordinarily uncomfortable and revealing clothing. While I firmly believe any woman should wear whatever she wants whenever she wants to, the obvious attempts for attention based on appearance opaqued the intellectual importance of the message.

While Kelly mentioned Hollywood’s consistent affiliation with Polanski, surprisingly she did not discuss Hollywood’s long term and continuing love affair with Woody Allen. Seth Meyers thankfully made a joke at Allen’s expense in his 12 minute monologue. “When I first heard about a film where a naive young woman falls in love with a disgusting sea monster, I thought, ‘Oh man, not another Woody Allen movie,’” Meyers said, spotlighting Allen’s tiresome and obsessive “old man infatuated with young woman” plots. Allen’s adoptive daughter, Dylan Farrow, who alleges that Allen sexually assaulted her as a child (which seems extremely legitimate when you consider how Allen married his other adopted daughter when she was 18) pointed out that only four years ago, Allen won the same award that Oprah Winfrey won this year, the Cecile B. Demille award. She tweeted, “No predator should be spared by virtue of their ‘talent’ or ‘creativity’ or ‘genius.’ No rock should be left unturned. The principles of the movement need to be applied consistently and without exemption.”

Though Farrow emphasizes that no rock should be unturned, Hollywood allowed many rocks to be left alone. By choosing black as the messenger, men were let off the hook. The #timesup message was weakened by its designated color, black, the color of a classic tuxedo. In this case, this color was the least feminist choice Hollywood could have made.  I personally noted which men wore black shirts rather than white shirts with their tuxes because this was a purposeful visual integration into the coded protest. Gary Oldman wore all back for example and stood up for Oprah’s epic speech. So did Denzel Washington, Chris Hemsworth, Common, Sam Rockwell, Zac Efron and Justin Timberlake to name a few.

However, many of the men stuck to the basic black tux with the white shirt, removing them from the discomfort of having to be a conspicuous part of the #timesup movement. By picking black as the color, men were much less burdened than the women. They could simply dust off a tux. Had the symbolic color been red or blue or green, men, like the women, would have had to make a strong outspoken choice to either be a part of the movement or not. Tuxes featuring purple or pink would have been easily spotted. Once again, it was up to the women to be the most obvious spokespersons for the cause. By choosing black, Hollywood missed out on an opportunity to include both genders.

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