[The Media Blog] The Power of the Hashtag: How the #MeToo movement won at the 2018 Golden Globes

Golden Globes

Awards season has finally kicked off as Hollywood stars gathered at the 75th Annual Golden Globes Awards in Beverley Hills on Sunday. But there was an elephant in the room that had to be addressed. This year’s Golden Globes was happening in a post-Harvey Weinstein world and therefore the tone and atmosphere shifted in that direction.

It all began with the viral spread of the #MeToo movememt, a two-word hashtag used on social media in October 2017 to denounce sexual assault and harassment, in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against film mogul Harvey Weinstein. The phrase, long used in this sense by social activist Tarana Burke, was popularized by actress Alyssa Milano, who encouraged women to tweet it to publicize experiences to demonstrate the widespread nature of misogynistic behaviour.

Since then, the phrase has been posted online a million times, often with an accompanying personal story of sexual harassment or assault. The response on Twitter included high-profile posts from several celebrities, and many stories of sexual violence were shared, including from Gwyneth Paltrow, Ashley Judd, Lupita Nyong’o, Jennifer Lawrence, Rosario Dawson, Lady Gaga, amongst others. There has also been movements by men aimed at changing the culture through personal reflection and future action, including #IDidThat, #IHave, and #IWill.

Before the awards, multiple sources confirmed that many major actresses were planning to wear black as a symbol of protest against harassment in Hollywood. Though many stars have worn pins and accessories to express support for causes, this was the first time that actresses have banded together in a full show of sartorial solidarity. The red carpet at the Golden Globes’ throbbed in a sea of black, from Game of Thrones‘ Lena Headey to La La Land star Emma Stone wearing gorgeous gowns. Reese Witherspoon, Eva Longoria, Salma Hayek and Ashely Judd all came together for a picture pose. To show support too, many men wore pin badges or black shirts with their suits.

Seth Meyers, the host for the ceremony, tackled the Hollywood sexual harassment scandal head on, which kicked off by throwing himself into a 15-minute long monologue in which he directly mentioned disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein in a joke that drew gasps from the audience. The late-night host also targeted Kevin Spacey and Woody Allen in a monologue that received immense positive reception, and it generally made for a good first time performance as a host.

In an elegantly simple, off-shoulder black gown, Oprah Winfrey gave one of the most iconic speeches when she accepted the Cecil B. DeMille Award for her incredible contributions to the entertainment industry. “It is not lost on me that, at this moment, there is some little girl watching as I become the first black woman to be given the same award,” Winfrey said in an impassioned speech, It is an honour and it is a privilege to share the evening with all of them.” As a victim of sexual abuse herself, she discussed the importance of women coming forward with their experiences of sexual assault and the #MeToo movement. Its propulsive spell also shaped the winners in some awards categories. Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale won the Golden Globe for Best TV series in the Drama category. The show, based on Margeret Atwood’s dystopian novel in which women have no right and exist only to reproduce, was up against The Crown, Game of Thrones, Stranger Things, and This is Us.

Elizabeth Moss, who plays Offred in The Handmaid’s Tale, also won Best Actress in a TV Drama, and the show has already distinguished itself as a serious awards-earner for Hulu, picking up several wins at the Emmys last year. The power of the #MeToo movement has transcended social media, and has even become the archetypical ingredient in spurring other movements like Time’s Up, which was founded on the first day of 2018 with its own website and focuses on women’s rights, feminism, sexual harassment and sexual assault. As long as injustices continue to be enacted against women around the world, the #MeToo movement will stay firm and relevant – even beyond the Golden Globes.

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