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Golden Globe Controversy

On January 7, 2024, The Golden Globes were held in Beverly Hills, California. Host Jo Koy, actor and comedian, was a last minute decision by the Globes according to Variety. However, Koy’s opening monologue sparked much conversation about using misogyny as a comedic punchline. 

Koy’s 10-minute opening monologue drew controversy quickly, as the comedian stated that “Oppenheimer and Barbie are competing for cinematic box office achievements. Oppenheimer is based on a 721-page, Pulitzer Prize-winning book about the Manhattan Project. And Barbie is on a plastic doll with big boobies….I don't want you guys to think that I'm a creep, but it was kind of weird being attracted to a plastic doll…. Margot [Robbie], it's not always about you.” Koy later joked “Big difference between the Golden Globes and the NFL? At the Golden Globes, we have less camera shots of Taylor Swift.” Swift’s reaction of sipping her drink drew both praise and idle from viewers. Her reaction went viral online, as did the reactions of Barbie cast and crew members - Greta Gerwig, Ryan Gosling and Margot Robbie. Gerwig later clarified on BBC Radio 4 that “[Koy] wasn’t wrong…She’s the first doll that was mass produced with breasts, so he was right on.” Gerwig also added that she thinks that “so much of the project of the movie was unlikely because it is about a plastic doll. Barbie by her very construction has no character, no story, she’s there to be projected upon.” 

Koy responded to Swift’s reaction and defended his joke, telling the Los Angeles Times that he “didn’t understand” Swift’s ‘tiff’.” He also stated that “The whole intention of that joke was to make fun of the NFL” and that he “loves [Swift’s] work.”

It was disappointing at best for me to see yet another male comedian use misogyny at an event celebrating a largely-female achievement lead year in the entertainment industry. Despite the joke, Barbie won several awards, including the Cinematic Box Office Achievement award. Additionally, the YouTube channel Recess Therapy had a video go viral of their two seven year old red-carpet correspondents telling Issa Rae (who portrays President Barbie in the film) that Barbie allowed them both to “want to be President Barbie.” The summer 2023 cultural phenomena of Barbie, Taylor Swift’s “Eras Tour” and Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year” covers, plus Beyonce’s “Renaissance Tour” have been well-documented. The social media response to the phenomena opened a wide conversation about girlhood and reclaiming the femininity many women are taught to hate. To me, Koy’s jokes rubbed salt in the wound of the complicated experience of being a woman. Knowing how far the women of the past have allowed the women of today to come, yet knowing that women still aren’t taken seriously for the work they do and the records they break in the process.  

Koy’s comments, and the widespread backlash surrounding them, demonstrate how little and how far American society has come from the era of television mocking female celebrities like Britney Spears. For many younger women, myself included, it was cathartic to see Taylor Swift visibly angry at a joke taking a jab at her despite the PR criticism it would cause the next day. It was cathartic to see Margot Robbie and Greta Gerwig not laugh at a joke diminishing the duo’s major accomplishments with Barbie. The catharsis stems from a seed that has arguably been planted in the heads of many  young girls everywhere. Seeds that insist that you must smile and laugh at every man trying to demean you. Keep sweet. Stay polite, and don’t be angry. The largely negative response to Koy’s monologue highlights that the misogynistic seeds every generation of girls grows up with are destroyable and that it is no longer acceptable for women to malign themselves for male pleasure in the national spotlight. I truly believe that once the dust settles surrounding the Koy controversy, the memorability of this year’s Golden Globes ceremony will be the wins of girlhood, despite one man’s attempt, intentional or not, at trying to dismantle the importance of it. 

By Kat Whetstone, Reporter



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