It's confirmed: The men of Hollywood will be wearing black at the Golden Globes this year in solidarity with female victims of sexual harassment, a gesture so powerful it is certain to achieve absolutely nothing except a spike in Instagram likes from people who rightfully enjoy looking at pictures of Hugh Jackman in a tuxedo.
The red carpet "blackout," as it's been dubbed, at first appeared to be a protest for women, by women. Because I am hopelessly cynical, I argued earlier this month such a facile gesture would be counterproductive at a time when Hollywood's moral credibility is shot, inviting privileged actresses to wax sanctimonious while the public wonders how many of them played a role in enabling the industry's abusers. But now, the protest seems even less meaningful and even more like an opportunity for celebrities to effortlessly score cheap goodwill points. It's hard to isolate a quality PR opportunity to just one sex in Hollywood.
I'm sure many of the protest's participants, both male and female, have their hearts in the right places, and in a world without Joan Rivers on "Fashion Police," I care very little about what they wear in front of the flashbulbs.
But people should be able to look to art for moral guidance – even and especially popular art – and right now that's very difficult, since it's clear the industry more eager to moralize than any other is rotting away with problems of its own.
Don't doubt that actors (and perhaps some actresses) who were and are part of those problems will don black on Jan. 7, purporting to atone for their sins and offer their support. It's too easy. Celebrities are great in movies, but many are also great at playing the part of Moral Authority in real life, a role that we now know requires more acting than most.
There is no real sense that past enablers have taken responsibility for their mistakes and understand why they deserve the public's skepticism. Until that happens, and probably after if it ever does, the appetite for sanctimony from Hollywood will be so greatly diminished that celebrity monologues on football will be more harmful to the industry than ever before.