What the Press Said About the Golden Globes: Tolerable and Painless

By Michael O'Connell January 12, 2009, 1:21 PM EST

It’s been two years since we last had a traditional, televised Golden Globe ceremony, due to last year’s writers strike, which derailed the annual award show and turned it into a glorified press conference absent of any sort of celebrity or pomp. In the time since its last official iteration, critics and audiences seem to have gotten less and less patient with award shows, so the pressure was on for the Globes not to further the mounting alienation.

And it really didn’t. Critics seemed more or less unbothered by the three-hour show, acknowledging that the ceremony doesn’t try as hard as other award shows to cater to the audience at home. The Los Angeles Times award blog, the Envelope, noted this in detail: “No host, no opening monologue, no breakaway skits, no musical numbers, no huge, evocative, and ever-changing stagethe Golden Globes is a televised awards presentation that relies totally on the apparently worldwide desire to see movie and television stars wearing fancy clothes, making a few jokes, saying nice things about each other, and occasionally breaking down in tears.”

Fancy attire, it seems, doesn’t necessarily denote any formality. The New York Times television critic Alessandra Stanley noted, “the gowns were strapless and bejeweled, but the mood was business casual.” Stars took advantage of the laid-back atmosphere in different ways. Ricky Gervais drank a beer during his presentation; Colin Farrell chewed gum during his; and director Darren Aronofsky gave Mickey Rourke a one-finger salute for mocking him during his acceptance speech.

The colorful characters seemed to be the redeeming quality of the Golden Globes. Variety acknowledged the longstanding draw of the show, saying, “The Hollywood Foreign Press [Association] always manages to keep things interesting by virtue of their choices, which invariably yield a highly telegenic, star-laden broadcast.”

A few things that didn’t interest anyone last night were mean-spirited humor and references to how the economy may soon hurt the film and television industries. Most news outlets—including The Chicago Tribune television critic Maureen Ryan—seemed as annoyed as the crowd at the Beverly Hilton Hotel with comedian Sacha Baron Cohen for his missteps as presenter, making light of the recession and mocking Madonna and Guy Ritchie. 

Pleasing critics and attendees, however, seems to have been an easier task than winning over the rest of the country. Early Nielson Media returns confirm last night’s outing delivered the second-worst ratings for the Golden Globes since 1995. Averaging just 14.6 million total viewers over three hours, the audience was obviously up from the paltry 6 million who tuned into last year’s abbreviated show but down significantly from 20 million in 2007.

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