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Golden Globes review: Shtick, self-loathing, and Ricky Gervais

Jon Hamm won the Golden Globe for

Jon Hamm won the Golden Globe for "Mad Men" at the 73rd Annual Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Jan. 10, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Kevin Winter

Another Golden Globes has come, gone, leaving audiences with the same mixed message -- are these awards of true value or just another money grab to be filed away where the sun doesn't shine, to paraphrase Ricky Gervais's memorable description of his own filing system Sunday night? The Globes fall into the same trap every year, more so last night with the return of Gervais: All this glitter is nonsense, and more of a sordid reflection on the psychic fissures of the industry and those getting the awards than on their real accomplishments.

These seem to be more about self-loathing than self-aggrandizement. It's a grinding, corrosive, dispiriting process to watch as a viewer. The true spirit of what this really means doesn't materialize until after 10:30 p.m., when the real reason for being here starts to take hold throughout the Beverly Hilton's Grand Ballroom: Best picture, best actor, best actress, and that big arrow that points to February, notably the Oscars. Spines stiffen only then; that's what this is all about, why it truly matters. Even Ricky Gervais -- looking at his watch, slowly draining his beer -- knows that.

But for some reason, the show uses the preceding three hours to make fun of itself, and of the process, as if that somehow is penance, or punishment, for those who know that the Globes are really more about marketing as opposed to celebrating excellence.

Gervais's opener was, of course, vulgar -- too vulgar for 8 p.m., with jokes about Jeffrey Tambor's, well, you know. But criticism is futile. It feeds the beast. Nevertheless, the mixed message arrives quickly, almost without warning, when an eminently worthy actress like Rachel Bloom gets a win for best actress in a TV comedy, and then proceeds to open her heart to an ballroom audience that knows this isn't about "heart" or the opening of them. But good for her anyway -- at least she was a fresh blast of life where cynicism rules.

What of the winners, or at least TV ones? Sure -- all worthy, except the Globes aren't so much about honoring TV, but about honoring movies a few weeks before the Oscars, and thereby hopefully affecting the outcome of some Oscar races. Hollywood needs the Globes for movie marketing reasons. It doesn't need the Globes for TV marketing ones -- at least as much -- which is a reason why the globes obstinately, puckishly, pick nominees that wouldn't even get an invite to the Emmys.

The predominant mixed message of the evening -- veering wildly between "these awards are a joke" to "these awards are more important than your nuptials" -- falls squarely on the TV awards, and the net result is that it devalues them. Best drama for "Mr. Robot?" Over "Game of Thrones" or "Narcos?" Fine, if you say so, Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Quibbling with Globe TV nominees and winners is a fool's game, and not wanting to play either this morning, let me say ... congratulations to all the winners, even if I predicted only a handful. They are all deserving, and this gives them visibility and recognition, and perhaps even gives them a future, too. To use the cliche, nominees and winners are all winners.

 Too bad this awards show -- with its mixed messages, and painful shtick, and even more painful self-abnegation -- doesn't seem to feel the same way about them.


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