Actresses Tina Fey and Amy Poehler didn’t pull any punches during their opening monologue at the 72nd annual Golden Globes on Sunday, making timely jokes about Bill Cosby, North Korea, the Sony hacking scandal and the challenges facing women in Hollywood.
“Welcome you bunch of despicable, spoiled, minimally talented brats,” Fey said while greeting the audience, a direct reference to the controversial email exchange between Sony executive Amy Pascal and produced Scott Rudin regarding Oscar winner Angelina Jolie, which was leaked amid several other private messages in the massive Sony hack.
The Golden Globes, sponsored by the Hollywood Foreign Press, celebrates the best of television and movies from the past year, or as Poehler quipped “all the movies that North Korea was ok with.”
The hosts also poked fun at the poor critical reception for “The Interview,” about an attempted assassination against North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The film allegedly provoked the Sony hack and its wide theatrical release was canceled in the uproar. Poehler joked that the controversy had forced audiences to “pretend they wanted to see it.”
Later, in a recurring gag which may have struck some viewers as racially insensitive, comedian Margaret Cho appeared dressed as a faux North Korean general (“Cho Jung Un”) who wanted to be photographed alongside actress Meryl Streep.
Fey and Poehler drew awkward groans and nervous laughs when they launched into dueling Cosby impressions. While discussing, “Into the Woods,” the musical featuring classic fairytale characters, Fey said, “Sleeping Beauty just thought she was getting coffee from Bill Cosby.” Multiple women have claimed Cosby drugged them in sexually inappropriate encounters. He has never been charged with a crime, and has denied allegations in the past, but that hasn’t stopped a bevy of celebrities from defending or criticizing the 77-year-old in the midst of the controversy.
“I put the pills in the people …” Fey said in an exaggerated Cosby-esque voice. This isn’t the first time the former “Saturday Night Live” star has milked the Cosby allegations for laughs. On SNL back in 2005, Fey made light of Cosby’s decision to settle with one of his accusers outside of court, and the allegations of drugging were also referenced in an episode of her hit sitcom “30 Rock” in 2009.
Meanwhile, Poehler and Fey sidestepped allegations of inaccuracy regarding the acclaimed film “Selma,” which documents Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1965 fight for voting rights. “ ‘Selma’ is about the American civil rights movement that totally worked and now everything’s fine,” quipped Fey.
When rapper Common accepted his award for Best Song from “Selma,” he gave an emotional speech about how the film “awakened” his humanity, and in which he referenced the deaths of unarmed black kids and the recent killings of two NYPD officers. “Selma is now,” said Common. ‘We are still in solidarity with those out there fighting for justice right now,” added singer John Legend.While the hosts also steered clear of making jokes about the recent terrorist attacks in France, Theo Kingma, the president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, made a reference to their commitment to “the importance of freedom of artistic expression” all over the world, which was met with rapturous applause. Multiple performers were photographed flashing signs reading “Je suis Charlie” in solidarity with slain artists at Charlie Hebdo, a French publication that was targeted by killers.
Actor and activist George Clooney, who at the tender age of 53 received the prestigious Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award, sported a Je suis Charlie button and paid homage to the thousands of people who marched all over the world on Sunday to show that “we will not live in fear.”
And in another politically poignant moment, when Amazon’s transgender-themed comedy “Transparent” won for Best Comedy Series, the show’s producer, Jill Soloway, paid tribute to Leelah Alcorn, an Ohio teen who committed suicide last month and has become something of a martyr for the trans rights movement.
“This is dedicated to you my transparent, my mapa, you’re watching at home right now. I just want to thank you for coming out because in doing so you made a break for freedom. You told your truth and you taught me how to tell my truth and make this show,” Soloway said.
Actor Jeffrey Tambor, who stars in the lead role as a transgender woman coming out to her family, won Best Actor in a Comedy Television Series and in his acceptance speech he dedicated his award to “the transgender community.”
“Thank you for your courage. Thank you for your inspiration. Thank you for your patience and thank you for letting us be a part of the change,” said Tambor.