While the Golden Globes had some shining moments last night, people are feeling appropriately perturbed about a verbal flub that uncomfortably popped up not once, but twice. 'Hidden Fences' is not a movie, but a merging of two nominated films with predominantly black casts, Fences and Hidden Figures. Yikes.
Fences is a drama starring Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, adapted from a play by August Wilson of the same name, about a Pittsburgh family in the 1950’s. Hidden Figures is based on the true story of 3 black women who worked on calculating flight trajectories for Project Mercury and the Apollo 11 flight to the Moon in 1969. Despite these films centering around entirely different plots and decades, the two were merged into one when Jenna Bush Hager asked Pharrell if he would be partaking in drinking that evening (I look forward to writing an entirely separate piece on the puzzling questions asked on the red carpet another time.) Pharrell, who wrote and produced original music for the film, looked understandably uncomfortable. Later in the evening, Michael Keaton made the same error when presenting best supporting actress in a motion picture.
Keaton (sincerely?) apologized to the paparazzi cameras last night, and Bush Hager made a tearful apology this morning on Today this morning, but it doesn’t make the recurring mistake any less disappointing. We can chalk this mistake up to Bush Hager and Keaton being tongue-tied, or we can accept that this mistake revolves around a bigger issue of movies with primarily black casts being less seen, literally and figuratively. No need to permanently condemn these stars, but we can certainly ask them to do better (I mean, two movies, two names, not that difficult.) In the meantime, let’s all go see both films, because they’re each fantastic (and. not. the. same. at. all.)