Golden Globes and the Culture of Hate

Posted January 15, 2015

Watching the Golden Globes is generally a mindless affair. For decades my parents and I have sat, or rather laid, on the couch, and numbly watched the succession of awards being presented to various movies and TV shows. Rather voracious consumers of entertainment, we absentmindedly state who should win and then  groan in disagreement or mutter a muted “huh” in surprise when we’re actual correct. It’s not a thrilling tradition, but it’s timeless.

However, this year I was more interested in what happened after the show than what was happening during it.

While browsing through my Twitter feed, which is not a timeless tradition of mine (my football team had just hired a new coach and I was digging for information), I was surprised by the comments that kept coming up surrounding the awards ceremony.

As usual, people were extolling the virtues of films and shows that didn’t win. Many people decried that the “inspiring #Selma should have won more awards,” while others stated that, “Clive Owen not winning is a crime.”

While the comments were unsurprisingly inflammatory, there was nothing earth-shattering in them. Until the subject of the ire stopped being about a specific film being snubbed and settled on another film not being worthy of the win.

Nowhere was this more apparent than in the Golden Globes decision to award Boyhood as best film over other solid candidates, like Selma. The fans that were surprised Selma didn’t win soon stopped talking about the virtues of the film and started criticizing Boyhood as “trash,” a “gimmick” and “Oscar bait.”

At first, I couldn’t understand why the vitriol was annoying me so much. It was the internet, after all, where logical and common sense  went to die (yes, I understand the irony of writing that in a blog, but let’s just smile, nod and move beyond that). It wasn’t until I started looking at who was posting that I started to understand what was infuriating me.

Half of the people bashing Boyhood in support of Selma stated in their bios that they were “filmmaker[s].” People who spent their lives dedicated to making quality films and supporting the medium were taking to Twitter to bash another film. Instead of supporting the efforts of fellow filmmakers, they were trying to belittle them.

What made even less sense to me was the object of the criticism. Boyhood is, by no definition, a “blockbuster” or typical “major studio” production. An independent film, shot in short increments over twelve years, by independent film impresario Richard Linklater, Boydhood is the definition of a unique, creative vision. The fact that it was recognized on such a national level is something that many filmmakers should cherish in a time of pervasive super hero movies. Small, independent films are being eaten alive by aliens, monsters, and comic book fantasies, but here was an auteur being celebrated for a vision that made no economic sense and was a scheduling nightmare.

An artist took a chance and won. Yet, his colleagues were  bashing him because a film they believe was more deserving didn’t win. It was incredibly self-centered and suggested that even the independent film community, which has long claimed to share a uniquely strong bond, was losing a sense of togetherness that has almost altogether become instinct from our culture.

However, to me, the situation was perhaps more troubling because it marks a larger problem in our culture: we’re a culture of hate.

If we don’t agree with something, it sucks. If we don’t see eye-to-eye with somebody, they’re terrible. If we don’t like a cartoon that somebody draws…

There’s no in between anymore. People’s emotional reactions to situations have escalated so much that there can’t be any simple difference of opinions. We’ve taken the George W. Bush maxim of, “You’re either with us or against us,” and let it seep into all aspects of our lives.

I don’t know if we do it because we live in a state of constant fear or if the sensationalism of our news and entertainment has driven us to a place where we can no longer think in moderate terms, but it’s only escalating. I notice it in my classrooms when students yell, “I hate you,” over nothing or when a humorous text message is seen as going too far and immediately leads to a fight  that demands sides be taken.

Yet, as all this goes on, we still clamor for artistic vision to be protected, independent film to be celebrated, and the news to stop feeding us sensationalism. Maybe more of the the onus should be on us. An entertainment system, and a culture, only reflect the thoughts and emotions of the people they are selling to or representing, respectively.

Instead of wanting to prove that other people are unworthy, why not make the focus on being more worthy ourselves? Those filmmakers on Twitter could have simply sung the praises of the work they felt connect to without bashing the work of people who work in the profession they claim they want celebrated. What harm does it do Selma to admit that Boyhood is also a worthwhile artistic achievement? Wouldn’t it make the whole medium even stronger?

After all, what does it say about what your supporting if you can only endorise it by tearing down something else?