The Golden Globes Were #$%@ Awesome!

I love award shows.  Actually, I really only love the big three: the Oscars, the Golden Globes, and the Emmys.  The Oscars I watch for the drama and the dresses.  The Globes I watch for the fun.  And the Emmys I watch because I love television.  The Emmys are generally third on the list, although Ellen’s performance hosting 9/11 was a unique and significant moment on its own (and I still sing this song from Conan when he hosted the Emmys).

The Globes have always been fun, in large part thanks to the fact that they serve alcohol during the show so presenters and recipients can get a bit tipsy.  But Tina Fey and Amy Poehler have brought the show to entirely new levels.  Last year’s lines about James Cameron and Taylor Swift were fantastic, but this year’s quips about Clooney and DiCaprio were even better (plus, Tina got a dig back at Taylor!).

Meanwhile, some award winners were so shocked last night they resorted to cursing during the show.  There was obviously some sort of delay, although it wasn’t handled well and at least one “shit” made it through during the evening.  So what does this  mean for the Golden Globes and NBC?  Could they get in trouble with the FCC?

Probably not.  About a year and a half ago, the United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled in FCC v. Fox Television Stations that the FCC targeting “fleeting” expletives (in this case uttered by performers on Fox’s Billboard Music Award shows in 2002 and 2003) was unconstitutional under the Due Process Clause.  But they left open the possibility that the FCC could still regulate fleeting expletives if they could comply with due process.  In response, this past year the FCC chair proposed a change in policy, where only “egregious” indecency complaints would be pursued by the agency.

(Ironically, the last time Bono won a Golden Globe, back in 2003, he cursed and the FCC found that the expletive was indecent but didn’t fine the Globes or NBC.  Even more ironically, at the same time, Stern did receive a fine from the FCC.  This was before his move to satellite radio, of course.)

So, assuming the FCC’s new policy is enacted, NBC and the Golden Globes will probably not get fined for last night’s slips.  The FCC hasn’t commented yet on whether it will investigate but either way there will be people unhappy.  I will continue to be happy, however, so long as Amy and Tina keep on hosting award shows!


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Jessica has been litigating business and IP disputes for the past decade. During that time, she’s dealt with clients, lawyers, and judges who have varying degrees of appreciation for the challenges of managing discovery in an electronic age. Until the fall of 2011, she was an attorney at a large, Texas-based law firm, where she represented clients in state and federal court nationwide. That fall, she made a long-desired move back to the Midwest and is now a partner at Hansen Reynolds Dickinson Crueger LLC, a litigation boutique based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she continues to litigate while also consulting with business and law firms on e-discovery issues (before, during, and after litigation arises).