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.
"Brokeback Mountain" has made a profit now, grossing $30 million for Universal Studios largely in large blue-state metropolitan areas with devoted gay audiences. It is, in one sense, an event for gays like "The Passion of the Christ" was for Christians. You don't just see it. You see it repeatedly. You're in a sense "voting" for it, for Hollywood to make more of it. Gay activists called it their "Gone With the Wind."
The big difference is that there are many more Christians at the box office, and many more "Brokeback" promoters among the movie-critic elite. The critics have whistled and screamed and demanded Oscars for this movie for months now. If "Brokeback" wins nominations or even Oscars that "Passion" never received, you will know with 100 percent certainty that these awards are not based on merit as much as on decadent cultural politics.
The truly classic moment of the Golden Globes on the television side was the Best Actress in a "Musical or Comedy," which somehow should have been named a best "Dramedy" category, since none of the five nominated actresses work on a true giggle-fest. The HFPA selected for this category four of the featured females on ABC's "Desperate Housewives," and Mary-Louise Parker for her role as a pot-dealing desperate housewife on a show nobody sees, Showtime's "Weeds."
While our young people are being increasingly convinced not to start down the illegal-drug road by using marijuana, Parker and the people at Showtime have been all too thrilled with the thought of producing the "edgy" show to promote marijuana as "so in the zeitgeist."
Comedian Chris Rock came to the podium to present the Globe, and made endless fun of Parker playing the "drug dealer." Of course, she was the winner. She looked embarrassed for a minute, but then grabbed the Globe, and told her male and female "Weeds" co-workers she loves them so much she'd like to "make out with all of you." Parker knows how to polish the apple of the HFPA.
It's sad that these foreign reporters are helping define the so-called "best" in our culture for people to remember. Let's hope that when our children look back on the classic movies and TV of their youth, they won't be influenced by which ones won the Golden Globes. I'm already eager to forget who just won.