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Posted at 10:26 AM ET, 01/17/2011

Golden Globe Awards 2011: Celebs without a cause

By Liz Kelly

Complete Globes coverage | Gallery: Show highlights | Chat transcript

'Most importantly, to all the amazing kids that watch our show and the kids that our show celebrates, who are constantly told 'no' by the people in their environments, by bullies at school that they can't be who they are or have what they want because of who they are. Well, screw that, kids.' -- Best Supporting TV winner, 'Glee's' Chris Colfer (Getty Images)

This year, the Golden Globes -- both the red carpet and the main event -- were virtually cause-free zones. As one chatter, Booboo (no relation to Yogi Bear), wryly noted last night, "So just curious... Darfur is all good now, right? Haven't heard a celebrity go on about that in quite a while, so it must be OK now. Just like the rain forests."

"Haiti's all rebuilt, too," added chatter P.

Before making a sweeping statement about celebs not using their glitzy platform to advance causes anymore, it should be noted that George Clooney -- who has doggedly done his utmost to keep the Darfur crisis on our radar -- was not in the house. But, even sans Clooney, we expected more consciousness-raising rhetoric from our honorees. We were, as it turns out, disappointed. Or not.

Last year one almost felt guilty about watching the Globes for the reason one watches the Globes: to see tarted up celebs drink their way through the first major (though ultimately meaningless, as noted by Hank Stuever) awards show of the season.

Why the guilt? Because every other celeb who paused to talk to Seacrest on the red carpet had a message for us about the horrors unfolding in earthquake-struck Haiti -- the quake had hit just a week before the awards show -- and the rest were at least wearing pins that telegraphed "Hey, I care about Haiti" or some other cause. Even the films in competition felt more important -- James Cameron's "Avatar" (about an environment threatened by man), Kathryn Bigeolow's "Hurt Locker" (which reminded us that we still have thousands of boots on the ground in Iraq) and Lee Daniels's "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire" (which inspired a teary speech about abuse victims from best-supporting actress Mo-Nique).

We cared about all those things, and Haiti, too, really -- but we were more interested in Ricky Gervais's first boozy #globesfail, which stars would melt in the uncharacteristic rain and whether or not Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie would come to blows in the bathroom.

But Sunday night, it was as if after a year of hellish celebrity news (Sandra Bullock's betrayal by now-ex Jesse James, Mel Gibson's vitriolic telephone rants and the absurdity of Randy and Evi Quaid's "escape" to Canada), our stars just didn't have it in them to strike a political pose.

And so aside from a few brief shout outs ("Glee" writer Ian Brennan advocating for public school kids, "Glee's" Chris Colfer speaking out against bullying and Annette Bening's win for the lesbian-centric "The Kids Are Alright") we were left with the empty calories we thought we craved: snarking about Helena Bonham Carter's dress, ScarJo's hair and -- as the night progressed -- disliking Ricky Gervais more and more.

And I, for one, had an epiphany. I missed the message-laden Golden Globes of yesteryear. Listening to Clooney hold forth on Darfur or Sandra Bullock talk about Haiti somehow balanced out the vapidity quotient.

Let's hope the celebs figure out a way to bring at least a little awareness to Oscar night.

By Liz Kelly  | January 17, 2011; 10:26 AM ET
Categories:  Awards Season  | Tags:  Golden Globes  
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Let's not throw out the Lindbergh Baby with the bath water, Liz Kelly: this was an awards show. It's supposed to be a night of unmitigated banality. You start introducing some noble cause in there and you know what you get?

Mitigated banality.

People want to hear important messages at these things about as much as they want to hear a speech from the director of the best foreign-language film. In other words, they don't even want to know that there *were* any foreign-language films (hence the catcalls from the audience of "subtitle THIS," ya Belgian freak!").

But I digress. i think a commenter in the previous item had it right, when gfaithwhogivesaratsass said that she watches awards shows to see the stars get what's coming to them. She doesn't want to see jokes about Sarah Palin or "how awful conservative America is," and if you think those topics are downers, Katrina or Haiti or Bandeh Aceh or poverty are even worse.

Heck, even Sandra Bullock told Ricky Gervais backstage that she hated poor people, right?

Posted by: byoolin1 | January 17, 2011 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Nope, come for the snark, stay for the snark.

I don't really give a darn about some celebs faux concern for the cause of the week. If they really cared, they would have been talking about Haiti still this year. It's still a mess (and abot to get messier Baby Doc is baaaaaaaaaaaaaack).

They want to get political, do it on a night where it is so obviously not about telling people how wonderful everyone in Hollywood is.

Posted by: epjd | January 17, 2011 11:05 AM | Report abuse

FWIW, I believe Clooney wasn't there because he's in the Sudan with the UN for the election there. (Well, that and he wasn't nominated for anything.) I'm not sure what Sean Penn was doing. Maybe hanging out with Hugo Chavez?

Posted by: Bawlmer51 | January 17, 2011 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Let's face it. Aside from George Clooney, most of these celebs are just posing as humanitarians for the good publicity. Their "I'm more beautiful AND more conscientious than the rest of you" schtick hasn't been convincing for awhile.

Posted by: Domermom | January 17, 2011 11:53 AM | Report abuse

It is what it is, and Ricky Gervais showed us what it was not.

Posted by: nishiki | January 17, 2011 12:41 PM | Report abuse

I think Matt Damon is genuine - it seems like when he became a dad, it made him really aware of what other kids, other girls in the world go through just to have necessities.

Brad and Angelina, and Sandra Bullock also seem to sincerely take advantage of their money and other resources to make life better for other people.

But none of them really make a huge deal out of what they do - they don't go around saying "Look at this great thing I just did." Their efforts make the news, but not in as brag-gy a way as some celebrities who only seem to work with charities so they can say they've worked with charities.

Posted by: Aloe9678 | January 17, 2011 7:45 PM | Report abuse

Golden Globes---like the Academy Awards---Forgetable and Who Cares. Same ole same ole with not enough surprises to make it interesting and alot of talent who have to move to the side for the also rans. I watched it off and on because my chosen shows are not on right now so make do with what you have. From what I saw it should have been called The Pitt&Jolie Narcistic Hour.

Posted by: joanchase63 | January 18, 2011 10:05 PM | Report abuse

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