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The Golden Globes put a spotlight on Hollywood’s uneasy relationship with big tech

Adam Epstein
tim cook with reese witherspoon and jennifer aniston

Hollywood’s increasingly cushy relationship with Silicon Valley was put front and center yesterday during one of entertainment’s biggest nights of the year.

British comedian Ricky Gervais used some of his monologue as host of last night’s Golden Globe Awards to call out celebrities for cozying up to tech giants with questionable business practices. He also accused Apple of running sweat shops in China, as its CEO, Tim Cook, watched from the audience.

“You say you’re woke, but the companies you work for: Apple, Amazon, Disney…If ISIS started a streaming service, you’d call your agent, wouldn’t you?” Gervais jeered. (You can watch the entire monologue here.)

Apple has come under fire for the poor working conditions in some of the factories that manufacture the iPhone. Disney, too, has been criticized by human rights groups for labor violations in plants that produce its merchandise. US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has also accused the Mouse House of exploiting low-wage workers at its theme parks.

Amazon, meanwhile, is regularly condemned for the treatment of its warehouse workers, its tax-avoidance practices, and its heavy-handed approach to local governments where it does business.

Apple, Amazon, and Disney (which owns Hulu and FX) together accounted for 17 nominations last night:

Their impact on the film and TV industries grows each day. Disney broke virtually every box-office record in existence last year, accumulating about a third of all movie ticket sales in the United States. Apple’s new streaming service, Apple TV+, is contributing to an explosion of television production budgets and actor salaries.

In recent years, the business decisions of Silicon Valley companies have clashed with the historically liberal political values of many of the major players in Hollywood. But that hasn’t stopped the two industries from working together. Richard Plepler, for instance, the former CEO of HBO and a longtime supporter of Democratic politicians, just inked an exclusive partnership with Apple.

While Facebook does not (yet) have as much of a presence in Hollywood as some of its counterparts, it was nonetheless the target of another Globes barb—perhaps the best of the night, courtesy of comedian Sacha Baron Cohen:

 

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