Earlier in the night, there had been a lot of tittering on the red carpet about keeping the proceedings “positive,” which appeared to be just a limp euphemism for apolitical. As a kind of human pace car, Timberlake set a goofy, exultant tone. He somehow sold the idea that willful denial can eradicate distress. In a less accomplished performer’s hands, Withers’s echoing refrain (“It’s gonna be a lovely day!”) might’ve seemed more a threat than an invitation—a beleaguered mom twisting around from the front seat of the station wagon, insisting that her squabbling and agitated offspring are, in fact, having the best vacation ever. Timberlake gamely boogied into the front row of the audience and attempted to incite more revelry, though trying to coerce actors tightly swaddled in expensive and unforgiving garments into dancing like normal people is, apparently, akin to asking your house cat to fetch you a soda. They lurched at each other like glittering zombies.
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