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The Golden Globes could have been an email

The 2021 version of the Golden Globe awards had a number of problems

In this video grab issued Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021, by NBC, nominees in the category for best supporting actor in a motion picture react as Daniel Kaluuya, top center, is announced as the winner for his role in “Judas and the Black Messiah” at the Golden Globe Awards.
In this video grab issued Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021, by NBC, nominees in the category for best supporting actor in a motion picture react as Daniel Kaluuya, top center, is announced as the winner for his role in “Judas and the Black Messiah” at the Golden Globe Awards.
NBC via Associated Press

The opening act of the 2021 Golden Globe Awards featured the comedic duo of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler rattling off a series of jokes from two separate parts of the country. The screen was split in half and both comedian hosts traded jokes back and forth. One from Poehler, another from Fey.

The jokes were common for award shows. Slight political jabs mixed with tabloid celebrity gossip and a hint of flare about our daily lives. The hosts joked about the pandemic’s impact on our lifestyles, Brad Pitt and even the award show itself.

At one point, Fey, as the opening monologue is set to end, makes a rather subtle yet incredibly important joke.

“Could this whole night have been an email? Yes.”

It was with that line that all became clear from the award show. None of it mattered. It really could have been an email. And it opened my mind about what this means for award shows moving forward as we traverse away from the coronavirus pandemic and into a new world of remote work, Zoom meetings and at-home offices.

The simple line from Fey — which plays off the internet joke of “this could have been an email,” which is often said in regards to meetings that are unnecessary — actually fits for the entire Golden Globes night. The event was riddled with technological issues, awkward award speeches and an overall vibe that was not worthy of the three hours I gave it.

Again, this is only my opinion. I’m not speaking for the viewership at large. But some of the glaring mistakes throughout the night couldn’t have made the event any more enjoyable for others.

Let’s start with Daniel Kaluuya, who won the award for best actor in a supporting role for his performance in “Judas and the Black Messiah.” Great film. Wonderful performance. Kaluuya is definitely deserving of the award. When he was announced, his face popped up on the screen, he started to talk and then the audio cut out. The award show awkwardly moved on without a word, citing technological issues.

Seconds later, Kaluuya returned to the screen, joking that the award show was “doing me dirty.” He then proceeded to give a normal award speech to a likely confused audience.

Something about the award speeches was off, too. We had one moment where Catherine O’Hara won the award for best performance by an actress in a television series for “Schitt’s Creek.” During that presentation, her husband, who was sitting behind her, played audio from a smartphone. The sound came back as static white noise to viewers at home. It was hard to decipher what the audio coming out of the phone actually was — it sounded like a crowd clapping at points, but mostly like static noise. It was a weird moment where the acceptance speech was riddled with an odd technological hiccup.

More speeches throughout the night were damaged by technology. Here’s how almost every award speech went down.

  • The presenters would announce the award and the nominees.
  • The winner would be announced.
  • Then, the in-house crowd of the event — a limited grouping — coupled with some possible fake crowd noise would celebrate the victory.
  • As the claps continued, the award winner would immediately begin speaking. The first five seconds of almost every award speech were drowned out.

And don’t forget about walk-off music.

Yes, the award show actually had walk-off music for people who were giving their award speeches through a computer. Speakers had to talk over music as the award show tried to speed them along. Imagine trying to hear someone talk in a Zoom meeting with music in the background? Good luck.

In this video grab issued Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021, by NBC, Daniel Kaluuya accepts the award for best supporting actor in a motion picture for “Judas and the Black Messiah” at the Golden Globe Awards.
In this video grab issued Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021, by NBC, Daniel Kaluuya accepts the award for best supporting actor in a motion picture for “Judas and the Black Messiah” at the Golden Globe Awards.
Associated Press

These are all nitpicky issues with an award show that breezed through its three-hour runtime. The good news for the Golden Globes is that they didn’t go over their allotted time slot and kept things neat, compact and simple. But part of the beauty of an award show like the Golden Globes or the forthcoming Academy Awards is that anything can happen. We hear a joke about Brad Pitt and we get to see Brad Pitt’s face. We get to see the impassioned remarks and beautiful moments where presenters and winners hug, where friends give other friends their awards and odd couples from the past get together for one more night.

Award shows — from the Golden Globes to the Emmys to the Oscars — benefit so much from the in-person experience. Any virtual concert or experience can give you a slight feeling of what you want or what you expect. It’s almost as good, but not enough. Last night, I never realized how badly I wanted the return to normal award shows. Those shows can be a drag that takes up your entire night. They can drag on for four hours and cause controversy that you’ll argue with your coworker about for the next three days (Yes, I still believe “Boyhood” should have won back in 2015, JJ!)

The most recent Golden Globes can’t ignite those debates. The emotion was gone from the night. It felt like we receive special access to a private Zoom awards meeting. And we’re so sick of Zoom by now, aren’t we?

Truly, the return to normal means we get concerts, freedom to eat in restaurants or watch a new Marvel movie, without fear of the coronavirus or its variants. The return to normal means light night concerts under an autumn sky.

But it also means we get the good award shows back. Because I agree with Tina Fey, this one could have been an email.