You are to be forgiven if you opted for "Downton Abbey" over the Golden Globes last night. For all the reasons Hollywood and its lackey press think the Golden Globes are better than the Oscars, these are precisely the reasons they are not. The Oscars at least are lavishly overdone spectacles designed to be judged for the efficacy of their fakery. The supposed informality and drunkenness of the “party atmosphere” at the Globes simply brings out everything dislikable about the industry and its people. There is the company town clubbishness. The over-selling of the hosts and the purported comedy. And the endless self-celebration of mediocrity.
Last night was no exception. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler had a fine (but only that) opening monologue after everyone on the red carpet promised they would “crush it.” And then we barely saw them (although Poehler making out with Bono upon winning her own award was fun). Woody Allen getting a lifetime achievement award and not showing up but not turning it down only makes you question his character all the more and recall that his movies are not as interesting as they think they are. Jennifer Lawrence gets to gush in girlish awe of the accolades one more time before being consigned to the Anne Hathaway penalty box. And to top it off you have the weird spectacle of Leo DiCaprio getting an acting award (bad enough) and insisting that Globe fixture Martin Scorcese is a “visionary” filmmaker. Puhleease! Somehow, by the end of the evening it's hard not to feel that everyone celebrated is overrated.
But if you passed on the Globes you missed hands down the best ad in recent memory -- a spot for the upcoming Muppets Most Wanted. A beautifully timed and crafted send-up of second-screen Internet media blather, this one hits all the right notes. It points to praise of the unreleased film from the Twitterverse, recreates the misspellings and petty flame wars, includes a characteristic scam. And it builds the jokes so quickly, with just the right sequence of insights. I was doubled over within a minute. As my wife observed, the ad pulls off what the James Earl Jones/Malcolm MacDowell Sprint spots aspire but fail to do.
Two other spots during the globes were notable more in their ambitions than success. Sony apparently is convinced it has some of its old mojo back. Its lengthy lifestyle spot tries to bolt the brand to music, entertainment, innovation in a way that recalls the heyday of “Sony Style.” Like Samsung, Sony likely smells some Apple blood in the water and aspires to the crown. But like Samsung, the company’s breadth is its disadvantage: so many products in so many categories it is hard to feel the brand continuity.
As for Apple, it debuted a new ad refocusing on itself as a tool of creativity. It demonstrates the iPad Air at work and play in a range of artistic tasks. Robin Williams narrates breathlessly with a long quote from Walt Whitman's poem "O Me, O Life." The ad culminates in Whitman’s vision of life as a grand drama to which we add a verse. “What will your verse be?” is the tagline and theme of the Apple’s new campaign that is explored at the Web site. In my mind the ad would have been more effective without the lengthy narration, which like many Apple ads of late feels like insecure overselling. Which made it a perfect fit for the Golden Globes itself.