UPDATED with video: Reese Witherspoon brought the Golden Globes audience to its feet with her introduction of Cecil B. DeMille Award winner Oprah Winfrey. Maybe the crowd was looking for some release during a fairly staid evening, especially by the typically raffish standards of the annual Hollywood Foreign Press Association bash. “Who doesn’t love Oprah?” Witherspoon asked, before the sizzle reel unfolded with the highlights of an indisputably extraordinary career justifying an award for “outstanding contribution to the world of entertainment.”
After acknowledging that she was the first African American woman to be given the DeMille award, Winfrey took a moment to raise the flag for journalists, reinforcing the HFPA’s earlier announcement of $1 million grants to two important press groups, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and the Committee to Protect Journalists.
“Covering the absolute truth,” she said, is what “keeps us from turning a blind eye to injustice and corruption…”I value the press more than ever before as we try to navigate these complicated times. Speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have.”
Then she turned to the main event, which was addressing the topic that had both fueled the talk all even and set a complicated undertone beneath what is meant, after all, as a time to party.
The journalism point turned out to have given her the perfect segue.
“I have been inspired by all the women who have felt strong enough and powerful enough to stand up and tell their stories,” she said. “This year, we became the story.” The subject of sexual harassment and assault, she said, transcends culture, religion politics, class: “Women who endured years of abuse because, like my mother, they had bills to pay and children to feed.”
“For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dared to speak the truth,” Oprah said, adding, to cheers and echoing the sentiment advertised on nearly every breast pocket and bodice in the room, “but their time is up. Their time is up.”