It's become a cliche to note that the Golden Globe Awards voter pool is an extremely small clique for such a big-buzz awards show. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) boasts "about 90" members, many of them Europeans. But their influence over the Oscars, and then the culture, is enormous. And what they are asking us to celebrate, with increasing regularity, are standards that echo the decadent culture of Old Europe, in love with illicit sex, drugs, dysfunctionality -- and even anti-Western political weirdness.
In addition to George Clooney's supporting actor award for his conspiracy-theorizing, anti-war-for-oil flick "Syriana," the Best Foreign Movie award went to "Paradise Now," a lyrical German-funded film about "heroic," yet conflicted . . . Palestinian terrorists blowing up buses. The HFPA even officially claimed the film was from "Palestine," as if Israel had already been wiped off the map.
Look no further for the European sexual decadence than the movie acting categories. The best-actor contest for a drama was a neck-and-neck race between Heath Ledger, playing the gay sheepherder in "Brokeback Mountain," and Philip Seymour Hoffman, playing the gay writer Truman Capote in "Capote." The best-actress nod went to Felicity Huffman for playing a male-to-female transgendered person in "TransAmerica," a film presently in nine -- count 'em, nine -- theatres in these United States. Or should she be in the best actor category? Perhaps in the future, we'll have a best Transgendered Performance category.
A delighted Michael Musto of the Village Voice summed it up on MSNBC: "It was gayer than an Ikea on Super Bowl Sunday."
People who've actually seen these movies are a better judge of whether these actors deserved the acting honors. I am told that Hoffman was superb. But is that all that's going on here? Allow me to suggest that part of the allure of voting for these performances is to promote the "daring" or "subversive" cinema they represent. Major, box-office-booming cinema was completely overlooked: No one acting in "Star Wars," "War of the Worlds,""King Kong," or Aslan forbid, the "Chronicles of Narnia" was even noticed by the Golden Globes clique. (Don't think it's an end-of-year thing. Movies have to show for seven days before the end of the year in Los Angeles, and these movies met that standard.)
These movies now have the awards to help them get more ticket buyers and be shown in more theatres, if not make a bushel of money. I suspect cultural influence is more important to these movie producers than profit would ever be.