by Andrew O’Hehir · January 8, 2018
I did not realize that in skipping the Golden Globes on Sunday night — a spectacle I strove to avoid even when my principal gig was writing about the movies — I was missing the first important political event of the 2020 presidential campaign. Maybe that isn’t surprising, in the era of Nothing Is Surprising. Nearly 30 years ago, when covering the 1988 campaign, Joan Didion expressed the view that politics was more a subset of show business than the other way around. That was meant to be an unorthodox or cynical thing to say, at the time; now it’s just obvious.
So is Oprah Winfrey running for president, after delivering a fiery, #MeToo-centric speech to what is customarily a boozy, self-congratulatory evening of meaningless starf**kery? I’m having a really hard time caring about the answer to that question as much as I supposedly should. But she clearly touched a nerve deep in the achy, breaky heart of liberal America, and a whole bunch of people spent Sunday night and Monday morning earnestly debating that proposition on social media — or at least pretending to, which these days is much the same thing.
One of my co-workers expressed the view in our Monday morning editorial meeting that Oprah’s Golden Globes speech (I think this is the one case where referring to a famous woman by her first name is acceptable) was reaching for the same kind of galvanizing cultural-political effect as Barack Obama’s keynote address to the 2004 Democratic convention. My co-worker wasn’t saying she thought that was entirely awesome and she was all-in for #Oprah2020. What I took away, in fact, was an update of Didion’s argument: The two events are more equivalent than we like to think. In what sense is a 21st-century political convention a less artificial or less stage-managed spectacle than a Hollywood awards show? The latter probably allows more room for spontaneity and surprise.
Salon · by Andrew O’Hehir · January 8, 2018