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Jo Koy’s Controversial Jokes at the Golden Globes: Why were they harmful?

On January 7, 2024, the annual Golden Globes took place—an award show to recognize the outstanding achievements in motion pictures and television during the previous year. This year’s host, Jo Koy, made seemingly controversial and sexist jokes that left the crowd disappointed. He cracked two jokes about the new Barbie movie that unintentionally highlighted the sexism Barbie touched on. He commented, “Oppenheimer is based on a 721-page Pulitzer Prize-winning book about the Manhattan Project, and Barbie is on a plastic doll with big boobies.” 

The goal of the Barbie movie was to portray the difficulty of being a woman in a man’s world. Moreover, Barbie reframed the sexist perspective of Barbie, changing her purpose from solely being the ideal body standard to idealizing her mind and viewpoint.  Many celebrities were visibly upset about Koy’s comment including Selena Gomez and Ryan Gosling, who played Ken in the movie.

Although people worldwide were clearly upset with the comments, the creator of Barbie, Greta Gerwig, reacted differently to Koy’s joke. Gerwig went on BBC Radio 4 Today and said, “Well, he’s not wrong.” The creator of Barbie’s response to Koy’s comment was unexpected, but it was great to see how she was able to take a degrading joke and have a light-hearted response. Although Gerwig understood his comment, knowing he wasn’t all wrong, that doesn’t mean his joke was respectable. Koy’s comment was hurtful to the women who watched the Barbie movie, the women who finally felt heard and recognized in Hollywood’s male-dominated culture. He took away from the empowering message that resonated with so many; he continued to emphasize the objectification of women’s bodies rather than changing that narrative. 

It may have been a joke, but it didn’t sit well with most of the actors and actresses at the Golden Globes and the people watching the award show at home. And, given how the Oscar nominations turned out, others may unfortunately have the same viewpoint.

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