It took a misogynistic Barbie joke to see the best part of this year’s Golden Globes.

The day after a major Hollywood awards show will always deliver three things:

1. A selection of photos depicting a swarm of celebrities storming fast-food franchises after the show, still clad in their glamourous ensembles.

2. Video footage of an actor thunderously applauding and beaming after their name wasn't read off the winner's ballot, with glimmers of sadness and rejection beginning to fester behind their eyes (keep Bradley Cooper in your thoughts this year).

And 3. A joke from the opening monologue is poorly received by the famous faces in the audience, and therefore goes on to ignite a passionate online discussion.

In the case of the 2024 Golden Globe Awards, it's fair to say that host Jo Koy's entire opening monologue has received more than a few scathing reviews and critiques. But it was a joke about the movie Barbie, which was nominated for multiple awards on the night, that drew the most disappointed groans.

"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 actor and stand-up comedian said during the show's opener. "The key moment in Barbie is when she goes from perfect beauty to bad breath, cellulite and flat feet. Or what casting directors call 'character actor!'"

While it's hard to judge the exact reaction to an awards show moment unless you're in the room, thanks to the fact that editing can pull together a Frankenstein-esque sequence of celebrity facial expressions that may not be directly linked to what's happening on stage in the moment, this joke does appear to have caused a slight uproar.

Selena Gomez and Helen Mirren both appeared to place their hands over their faces as Koy quipped about Barbie, while Emma Stone was caught wrinkling her nose in what can only be described as judgement and disgust.


Meanwhile, the film's director and co-writer, Greta Gerwig, just slowly nodded along to the joke with a resigned half-smile plastered across her face.

The joke has been labelled everything from "insane" to "demoralising" and "misogynistic", igniting a conversation about how women were treated at the awards ceremony and, by extension, in the entertainment industry itself.

While it was a tired and formulaic joke, reducing a clever and commercially successful film to a quip about boobs, it's also been latched onto as an easy source of surface-level critique. An unfunny yet brief moment from the show's three-hour run time that doesn't really capture the diversity of the winners list and the bigger conversations we could be having.

Barbie director and co-writer Greta Gerwig and producer and star Margot Robbie at the Golden Globes. Image: Getty


While no major Hollywood awards show could be called a beacon of inclusivity and diversity, the Golden Globes has always had a particularly bad track record when it comes to both who wins the awards and who votes for them.

In 2021, a Los Angeles Times exposé reported that there were no Black members within the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the voting organisation then in charge of the Golden Globe awards. The report came after the annual event faced backlash for its 2021 nominees, in which many Black-led projects failed to receive nominations.

In June 2023, the Golden Globes announced that Dick Clark Productions had acquired all the rights for the show from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), promising to offer a different production and process going forward.

Within the 2024 Golden Globes winners' circle, there were some very welcome history-making wins that deserve just as much attention as a monologue joke. 

Actress Lily Gladstone, who starred opposite Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro in Martin Scorsese’s film Killers of the Flower Moon and who is of Blackfeet and Nimiipuu heritage, became the first Indigenous performer to win the Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama category.

Lily Gladstone became the first Indigenous performer to win the Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama. Image: Getty


Actress and comedian Ali Wong also made history when she won Best Actress in a Limited/Anthology Series or Television Film for her role in Beef, becoming the first woman of Asian descent to win this award.

In an extension of this historic moment, Beef also won the Best Limited or Anthology Series or Television Film Golden Globe, making it one of the most awarded TV shows of the night.

Also at this year's Golden Globes actress, Ayo Edebiri became one of just a handful of women of colour who have won the award for Best Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy, for her role in The Bear.


In a category historically dominated by white actresses, this year Da'Vine Joy Randolph won the Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture for her role in The Holdovers.

In the Best Director category, women of colour (and women in general) continued to be snubbed overall, with Greta Gerwig for Barbie and Celine Song for Past Lives both securing nominations but losing out to Christopher Nolan for Oppenheimer.

One other standout achievement for female creatives on the night was the success of Anatomy of a Fall, which won the coveted Best Screenplay – Motion Picture award, and the Best Motion Picture – Non-English Language category. The French courtroom drama thriller was directed and co-written by Justine Triet.

And while Barbie may have been mocked during the show's opening monologue, the film did win the newly introduced Cinematic and Box Office Achievement award, meaning it made the most money out of any film released in the last year – a testament to its success that no one can argue with.

On an overall level of diversity and inclusion, the Golden Globes – just like every other awards show – needs to do better across all categories. But it's within the lists of people who are allowed to make this content, and the ones who are announced as winners – rather than opening jokes – that we find those who deserve the most thoughtful critique and celebration.

Laura Brodnik is Mamamia's Head of Entertainment and host of The Spill podcast. You can follow her on Instagram here.

Feature Image: Getty.

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