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The Golden Globes Takes a Misogynistic Turn

The much-awaited and very golden (pun-intended) 81st edition of the Golden Globes Awards was ceremoniously held on January 7, 2024, and was broadcast on CBS and streamed on Paramount+. The award show honouring the best of Hollywood cinema, both movies and television productions, brought many famous and obscure productions of the year 2023 to the literal stage as awards were handed out to the most loved and deserving characters and stories.


The ceremony was hosted by Jo Koy, an American comedian and actor, and as tradition goes, the hosting came to be a stand-up comedy show of its own, with supposed friendly jabs and one-liners, where most entered with raised expectations from the host. After all, a guilty-pleasure award show being hosted by a largely popular stand-up comedian having the liberty of making jokes about the people in whose lives we are involved the most spells a wonderful recipe in the making if nothing more. 


However, this is also where everything went wrong. Saying that Jo Koy’s jokes did not land would be a great understatement. From dated jokes about the film fraternity to jokes rooted in sexist and misogynistic values, Jo Koy left a bitter taste in the mouth of the fraternity itself as well as the thousands of viewers at home.

His jokes begged us to raise the question: is the sexist joke trope still largely rampant in our society? Are women still measured based on age-old parameters while jokes at the expense of their achievements continue to receive a green light? Are men still at liberty to joke about women as clear misogynistic undertones peep from within?


While the Oppenheimer-Barbie debate had already launched a heated discussion and polarisation–dividing the movie-going audience into the alpha science-is-for-the-guys Oppenheimer watchers and the oh-so-pink too-feminist Barbie girls–the narrative hasn’t changed much since. Jo Koy capitalised on this exact debate during his Golden Globes monologue, twisting and re-using the sexist justification that had been used to disregard Barbie and creating a joke that was not received well, apparent from the unamused reaction of those present. Calling the movie to be based on a “plastic doll with big boobies” goes on to say that Jo Koy, if no one else, clearly missed the point the movie was trying to make. The joke however did end up proving exactly what Barbie was about–just how difficult it is to be a woman in a man’s world.


On that note, one joke falling flat did not deter Jo Koy from introspecting much as he quickly (defensively) recovered and went on to make another joke, this time on another great female achiever, the TIME Person of the Year herself, Taylor Swift. While Taylor Swift and her romantic relationships have largely been in the news, and more so in recent times, the joke cracked did not really pass the test of comedy, standing on the crutches of a female celebrity’s private life, a little too late in the 21st century.


Not just the jokes about Barbie or Taylor Swift, the monologue barely touched base with anyone as the audience was filled with polite smiles, not a reaction you would expect from a stand-up comedian cracking jokes on stage.


However, the fallout from the Golden Globes took things up another notch. “Jokes need to be treated as jokes and not taken so seriously” was the narrative opted for as internet users came together to criticise the celebrities’ reactions to the jokes made at their expense. While Will Smith slapping Chris Rock over a “joke” during the 94th Academy Awards did not receive too much negative reaction, most of the female celebrities at the Golden Globes 2024 were heavily criticised by known names as well as by social media users for their (comparatively) highly diluted reaction. While Taylor Swift pursed her lips and took a sip of her drink in response to the NFL joke, Greta Gerwig was visibly disheartened at the commentary made on the painstaking production she had poured her heart into. Amidst this, many people did not find a problematic shred in Jo Koy’s monologue, resorting to rather blame the women for “not having reacted appropriately” to a joke that was clearly (not) made in jest. As Taylor Swift said in an interview with CBS in 2019, men are allowed to react while women can only overreact.


However, while there was an influx of criticism in favour of Jo Koy, many internet users believed the absolute opposite. After the Golden Globes monologue, X (earlier Twitter) was filled with users voicing their distaste and loathing for the jokes made as Jo Koy took the supposed easy route by basing his jokes on women.  



This, however, is not just a problem Hollywood or celebrities face. Over time, a common tendency has been to crack jokes at the expense of others, and women have been at the brunt of these jokes. From husband-wife jokes innocently making rounds in family gatherings and in WhatsApp groups to the not-so-dated Christmas postcard trend where the males of the family bound and gag their wives and daughters while holding a placard saying “peace on earth” as a joke, the misogyny of a patriarchal world is found abound everywhere one turns. While this normalisation of sexist jokes has made it difficult to discern appropriate jokes from inappropriate ones, the rising desensitisation and opening up of platforms for discussion have allowed for a movement to emerge parallel and contradictory to this age-old usage of women and their adages as comic relief; a movement which will hopefully prevent public platforms from becoming unaware supporters and victims of this misogyny. 


While 2023 was a year that celebrated femininity at its best, filled with women’s achievements from all walks of life, the Golden Globes turned out to be one massive failure of a trip that crashed and burnt before it even began. However, one can hope that Hollywood learnt its lesson this time (although as tradition goes, it probably did not).



Image Credits: Rolling Stone

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