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Yes, you read this right, T Hiddy Committee is back with a new Time for Tom. If you missed it, Tom Hiddleston won for Best Actor in a Mini-Series or Television Movie for his role of Jonathan Pine in The Night Manager at the Golden Globes. The series picked up two other wins for the supporting actors, Hugh Laurie and Olivia Coleman. Tom’s win of course ignited a tweet flurry of “Swiddles showmance worked” references, but it was his speech that drew the most attention. Watch it here:
If you’re scratching your head going, “Wait, huh? What did that story have to do with anything?” then we can totally understand. If you are thinking, “Tom being generous per usual, how nice.” then we can totally understand. If you’re wondering, “Is play off music only at the Oscars?” then we can totally understand. Even Tom agrees his speech “was inelegantly expressed.”
While it felt totally random, it also felt very “Tom” like. It was an odd juxtaposition, but not one that we haven’t seen before from Tom. People like us who watch a lot of Tom’s more in-depth interviews know he has a tendency to ramble or lose focus of his story’s point, especially when nervous or tired, and even more so when very passionate on a topic. He wants to just tell you everything, and tends to add details in as he recalls them, even when no longer timely. It’s one of the things Tom fans really adore in him, we’ve noticed from years of fandoming.
Tom went on to formally apologize and clarify his intentions the next day on his Facebook account (presumably after watching his speech and going, “Oh wow, that’s not at all what I thought I said.”)
Jamie: People are crapping all over Tom’s speech for seeming kind of self congratulatory. I know what he was going for, but definitely see how people didn’t get that at all.
Lorena: I can see that. I think if he’d used the word “humble” and not “proud” it wouldn’t have felt self congratulatory.
Jamie: Yeah, “humble” would have been a much better word. I was thinking that, too.
Lorena: And he took awhile to get to the point of his story. It felt sort of like he was building up to ‘Tom was attacked in South Sudan’ or something.
Jamie: Bottom line, I think his message was “it was really humbling to hear that the work you’ve done was enjoyed by people who are doing such important work” and he just got lost in his own story so it didn’t come off that way.
Lorena: Did you see all the tweets about Tom having a white savior complex?
Jamie: I saw those.
Lorena: Remember when I was so put off by his interview with Benedict Cumberbatch for Interview magazine because of his comments about them building a road for filming in remote parts of North Vietnam? Before his apology post, this Golden Globes speech was reiterating the same message to me.
Jamie: I didn’t feel that way at all, I thought he was just nervous. Which turns out, he was!
Lorena: I thought that NPR’s take on it made a valid point, which still holds up somewhat after his Facebook post. Their article really speaks to what makes a good celebrity spokesperson for a charity, citing some clear examples of both directions on the spectrum. I really liked their closing statement’s sentiment:
After Hiddleston’s remarks last night, it seemed that no one was talking about the work of Doctors Without Borders in South Sudan. They were just talking about … Tom Hiddleston.
I do think this incident will have the consequence of him improving drastically in his use of platform in the ambassador role.
Jamie: Yeah, I think from now on he’ll be ready in terms of knowing how to word exactly what he means in terms of the work he does with them.
Lorena: I hope so. I’m not sure an awards acceptance speech is the right platform to work from, or at least not at such a level of detail. Maybe on the red carpet beforehand?
Jamie: At the same time though, people didn’t have to talk about Tom Hiddleston instead of Doctors Without Borders, they chose to. Meaning, all of this outrage was completely optional. There’s no reason why the narrative couldn’t have been more along the lines of “Tom Hiddleston told an admittedly long winded story during his acceptance speech, but it was to try and highlight issues in South Sudan. Let’s take a look at what he was talking about.”
Lorena: Yes, there is onus on the receiver as well. I think NPR’s point was more if he (or any charity spokesperson) wants to use an acceptance speech as the platform, then tell the anecdote in a different, more succinct way with less explaining about South Sudan and more precise comments highlighting their humanitarian crisis. Just say, “I was doing work with UNICEF in South Sudan and…” Then close it out with a, “This award is for the people doing such brave work around the world in places like South Sudan.” or similar.
Jamie: Maybe I’m feeling overly cynical or negative about a certain impending inauguration, but a whole lot of horrendous stuff is about to happen, so I think we all need to be a bit choosier about what ignites our outrage. “Acceptable” or “THE MOST OFFENSIVE AND PROBLEMATIC THING TO EVER HAPPEN!!!” can’t be the only two reaction options to things, and sometimes I feel like that’s where we are. And I say that as a very absolutist, “black and white” type of person. It’ll lead to a Boy Who Cried Wolf environment, which I don’t think is good at all.
Lorena: That’s fair, we shouldn’t maintain a binary approach to things that’s so unevenly weighted. Maybe though people are already in a state of outrage and their energy isn’t being heard in the office where they want it to be heard. Or maybe they’re tired of the microaggressions of rich white men being swept under the generic narrative of injustices, and they want to just call out every single one when they see it, whether it was intended by the speaker or not. Hidden Fences is an example. Also, this is Time for Tom… not Time for Sociopolitical Discussions (though our TFTs keep leaning that way… and perhaps Tom’s general essence encourages said discussions…)
Jamie: Calling out is fine, I’m in total agreement with that. I just feel the vehemence with which it was done in this case was a bit overblown.
To NPR’s point, we figured we should probably include something about UNICEF and Doctors Without Borders in South Sudan…During and after the recent civil war there, ongoing violence has led to food shortages and severe malnutrition, inability for 51% of children to access education, and 1.5 million people to be displaced from their homes–many who now live in the open without any shelter. Refugee camps lead to fast spread of disease, including malaria, diarrhea, respiratory tract infections, and measles. According to UNICEF, about 7 million people in South Sudan are in need of humanitarian assistance.
According to UNICEF’s site, Tom’s been to South Sudan twice. No news on there about the documentary he worked on while there. But they profile other things he’s done with UNICEF and his Guinea journal is on there, too. Tom also wrote an article for The Independent with details of his 2015 trip to South Sudan to formally back UNICEF UK’s campaign that calls on the Government to prioritize protecting children from violence in crises.
Jamie: Also, not for nothing, but Casey Affleck won a Golden Globe that same night. Someone who has been accused by multiple women of sexual assault. And he just gets to win and make his speech and it’s “oh isn’t that nice his performance was so good.” The only media outlets talking about the accusations against him are smaller/special interest sites. I don’t think any of the “major” ones have really gotten into it. So in terms of things that made me feel icky about the Golden Globes, it’s a bit ridiculous to me that Tom, who was well meaning but made an honest mistake is getting all kinds of flack- so much that he felt the need to make an apology- while Casey Affleck, a potential serial sexual abuser gets to stand up there and bask in applause and doesn’t have to explain anything to anyone.
Lorena: Because it is. Tom being seemingly unaware of his privilege while thinking he’s aware of it is not at all important like sexual assaulters being rewarded with anything but convictions and prison sentences. I hadn’t even heard about the accusations about Casey Affleck.
Jamie: That’s what I’m saying, you hadn’t even heard about it! And you’re someone who is well versed in the entertainment industry. That’s how little it’s being discussed. Like, should someone say to Tom “listen man, you should probably find a way to get your message across better?” Yes, and it sounds like someone has. But in the grand scheme of things, the Casey Affleck things is a WAY bigger deal and he just gets off scot-free. Brie Larson had to present that award to him because she won Best Actress last year, for Room, a movie where she played a woman who was held captive by a rapist. A role that was very important to her. Did you see her face when she read out his name? She didn’t look at all pleased.
And she may have to do this again several more times throughout awards season. She may hand him an Oscar. Very long story short: For me it’s all about intention. Were Tom’s intentions good? Yes. So I think everyone should have calmed down a bit and given him the benefit of the doubt instead of treating a slightly flubbed speech like it was the most outrageous thing that happened that night. It most definitely wasn’t.
Lorena: You’re absolutely right. And while Casey settled the cases again him in civil court, I take no allegations of sexual harassment, abuse, or assault lightly. As someone who’s been sexually harassed in nearly every job she’s ever worked (ranging from waitress to lifeguard to office job), who’s reported said harassment, and who’s seen literally NOTHING done about it except causing ME more issues because the person harassing me knows I reported them, I am not okay with the “it’s settled” or “she dropped the case.” Money buys silence, but male power does more so. I’ve watched it happen over and over and over again. It’s disgusting and reprehensible.
And if the biggest scandal Tom Hiddleston can muster is dating Taylor Swift maybe for promotional reasons, then yes, we should all default forgive him for being nervous at his first ever Golden Globe nomination and win. That said, the narrative around Tom’s speech is a different situation than the one [not being had] around Casey Affleck’s actions. So while Affleck being nominated at all enrages me, I think it’s still valid to have a conversation about what is really igniting the reactions to Tom’s speech (pre-apology/clarification) and to continue to attempt to hold Hollywood [and ALL industries] to a high standard in all forms of human decency. What I’m trying to say is, this is probably two different posts 😀