Tom’s Speech at the GG and my Analysis
So I thought I’d take the night and some sleep to let things cool down and get my thoughts together. Well I got my thoughts together even if it seems the public and the fandom may not have cooled down exactly.
Let me get my overall thoughts out before the mob comes for me for being a hater of a fan or that I’m defending my fave when I freely criticize others. I think Tom did not prepare a speech because he didn’t think he would win and then proceeded to give an acceptance speech with good intentions that because of his ill preparedness became a little problematic. Now that I’ve got that out of the way, let me provide some context on why I think this situation has blown up in a way that I think is a severe overreaction.
Firstly, Tom’s unpreparedness. The man clearly did not expect to win and therefore did not prepare a speech. He even had a bet with Variety’s Jenelle Riley over $20 that he wouldn’t win (X). People, the man bet against himself. This wasn’t some moment of ego driven self-congratulation, he legitimately didn’t prepare a speech and ended up sort of putting his foot in his mouth.
Secondly, the Hollywood Foreign Press. Now I’ve seen some Tom fans come to his defense claiming people are mad Tom won because he’s a white man and white men just always get the short end of the stick. I’d really like you guys to think about that. Not only is that entirely ridiculous and you know it if you reflect on it, but it’s also completely inaccurate. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association is made up of predominantly foreign journalist and therefore have always had international leanings in terms of their selections for winners. That’s one of the reasons the Golden Globes are such a terrible indicator for the Oscars as none of the HFP votes for them. So to all those trying to claim reverse racism on this one, Tom didn’t win because he’s white. He won because he’s British and foreign. But you claiming this is some type of reverse racism is only making this situation worse and you’re embarrassing yourselves.
Thirdly, an undeserved win. Now don’t get me wrong, Tom gave a good performance and deserved to be nominated. I haven’t seen anyone suggest otherwise. But the lead up in this fandom till last night of “Courtney/PvOJ won everything and shouldn’t someone else get a turn?” showed how childish fandom can be. Sure, we want our faves to win but maybe I’m in the minority in wanting the best nominee to win even if my fave isn’t it. And I don’t think it was just Courtney. A lot of people also thought Riz was better and I personally think Bryan’s Tony-winning role also provided a better performance. Obviously this is art and awards are all subjective but when one actor is cleaning house with all the awards does it not force you to reflect on why that actor was doing that and didn’t again?
Fourthly, 2nd case of white mediocrity for the night. This isn’t to say Tom is mediocre, I’m not saying that. But Tom was also not the first white actor to beat out what many were calling a better performance by an actor of color as Aaron Taylor Johnson beat Mahersala Ali earlier. Tom’s win doesn’t exist in a vacuum and for the night it was starting to look to people like the controversy of the past two years of all white nominees was now being replaced by nominations for POC being considered “good enough.”
Lastly, I hate that I still have to bring this up, the summer of HiddleSwift is still lingering in people’s mindsets. It shouldn’t, but it is. So after a summer where Tom came across to the public as an attention-seeking famewhore attached to a woman who has her own baggage regarding race and acceptance speeches, the public was primed for Tom to have a moment like this and pounce on it when they smelled blood in the water. To them this was confirmation of what they thought last summer and were now reminded of no matter how irrelevant this past summer was to last night.
So summarizing all that context together you have a perfect storm for Tom to make what I think most who even believe he had some problematic phrasing would see as an exaggerated response. But you know what doesn’t help quell that response? A fandom circling the wagons and ignoring any legitimate criticism. You’re not any less of a Tom fan because you think his speech strayed into white savior territory accidentally. And to those of you who don’t think it did, that’s fine but listen to the people who are making the argument instead of shutting down conversation because you don’t like people thinking negatively of your fave. Don’t bring up that Leo gives acceptance speeches on climate change or that Casey Affleck is a sexual assaulter. Those points may be true but are irrelevant to this conversation and pointing the finger at other people when your fave screws up is both immature and something another fandom does that I hope hasn’t rubbed off on this one. Also, you claiming Tom is a perfect angel and asking people what they do for humanitarian efforts is petty and really only adds to the white savior narrative. That’s right YOU are the ones perpetuating the white savior problem when you call him Savior Tom or talk about how selfless and better he is than other people.
And honestly this whole white savior backlash really shouldn’t have been that much of a surprise if people in the fandom had listened to fans, predominantly of color, who expressed concerns over the reception of Tom’s UNICEF work in the past. I myself used to think of it as white saviory but the more he does the more I’m comfortable in the fact that Tom genuinely cares and wants to make a difference. But to shut down discourse on the topic as “some people will always find things to criticize” was both wrong and evidently short-sighted since it’d come back to bite him.
In conclusion, I find nothing with Tom’s speech that was a humble brag (aren’t they all?) or in any way self-aggrandizing. What I think happened was a highly intelligent man who didn’t prepare knew he needed a transition statement between the typical Hollywood thanks and bridging into promoting awareness for a cause he cared about that is hardly talked about and didn’t stick the landing in what I think I laid out above was a particularly sticky situation.
Basically, Tom needs to hire someone like me to scream