Think back to a time before Baby Yoda — 2010. Social media was young, “Game of Thrones” was just a book series by a bearded man and people were adamant that food tasted better when prepared on a truck.
In 2010, we also enjoyed watching awards shows.
It’s true! Like struggling to imagine a world where your best bet for curing pneumonia was bloodletting, it is hard to picture a year when we calmly sat down on the couch, listened as some celebrities made speeches and then didn’t rip the telecast to shreds on Twitter afterward. But that’s how the evenings went.
And you know what? I predict that in 2020 we’re going to revert back to our awards-show-lovin’ selves, starting with the Golden Globes on Sunday night. Not because of Ricky Gervais’ predictably incendiary monologue or the musical acts. The format will be saved this year by a few stars and their unique ability to shut the hell up.
This year’s Globe nominees and Oscar hopefuls, such as Eddie Murphy, Renée Zellweger and Al Pacino, are united by more than their A-list status — they’re refreshingly quiet online. It’s their wise digital chill that’s allowed them to remain enigmas and therefore exciting to us fans. Unlike most of their Hollywood cohorts who tweet nonstop to stay relevant, these guys are far from boring.
Just as we normals became obsessed with oversharing on social media — from checking in on Facebook to thirst-trapping on Instagram (at least for the lucky few) — the same consuming habit developed in celebrities. And it quickly moved beyond obvious offenders, such as Lady Gaga and Gwyneth Paltrow, and conquered Hollywood royalty, too. See Dame Helen Mirren’s selfies with Victoria Beckham, or Glenn Close’s dog Pip’s personal Instagram account, @sirpippinofbeanfield.
Are the pics cute? Sure, but the avalanche of personal info gives us one less incentive to tune into an awards show. We used to watch Joan Rivers’ red-carpet interviews to gain access and insight into the rich and famous. Lately, we yawn at these all too familiar figures and mute Giuliana Rancic to protect our remaining healthy brain cells.
But consider the three celebs I mentioned above. Murphy, Zellweger and Pacino bravely don’t have official Instagram or Twitter accounts. For younger generations, that’s akin to being Jason Bourne or one of the Men in Black — so devoid of an identity as to barely exist. But, like those fictional agents, the intriguing secrecy leaves you wanting more.
Every step of Murphy’s comeback in 2019 (his starring role in “Dolemite Is My Name,” his announced Netflix specials) has been heralded with ticker-tape-parade-style enthusiasm. When Murphy hosted “Saturday Night Live” in December, the event-TV episode received the comedy show’s highest ratings since 2017. That’s because the megastar’s absence has been a real, cold-turkey hiatus. He hasn’t been slumming it on a podcast or Snapchat, or granting interviews to anyone who asks. He took a break and created an appetite. Audiences will tune into the Globes, and possibly the Oscars, just to see Eddie.
Zellweger, meanwhile, didn’t make a movie for six years between 2010 and 2016, leaving fans to wildly speculate on what was going on in her personal life. When she finally filmed “Bridget Jones’s Baby,” on-set paparazzi photos were traded as widely as some celeb sex tapes. Through all of the hoopla, Zellweger stayed silent outside of the requisite magazine and TV interviews. To this day, she has proved an enduring, highly respected draw at the movies and she’s the favorite to win her fourth Golden Globe as best actress in a movie drama for her portrayal of Judy Garland in “Judy.”
And whoo-ah! can put butts in seats like Pacino? The 79-year-old actor, who’s nominated for “The Irishman,” appeared on Broadway in 2015 in David Mamet’s critically reviled play “China Doll.” The dreadful drama nonetheless sold out nearly every performance and was one of a precious few shows to recoup its investments that season, thanks solely to Al. Compare that to an excellent play like 2019’s “Betrayal,” which starred none other than Tom Hiddleston: Marvel’s Loki and the ex-boyfriend of Taylor Swift. He has 7.8 million followers on Instagram. Most weeks, “Betrayal” did not play to a capacity house.
There are other nominated celebs who, even if they do have social-media accounts, at least show some restraint in how they use them: Laura Dern, Daniel Craig, Quentin Tarantino, Leonardo DiCaprio, Martin Scorsese, Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale. They’re true stars, who — when not partying on St. Barts with 20-year-old models — have rare decorum in a world where you can become famous by saying, “cash me ousside” on “Dr. Phil.”
When it comes to lasting celebrity, and entertaining award shows, silence is a virtue.
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