Have you heard anything about the Golden Globes this year?
Would you believe me if I told you they were held this past Sunday?
Well, what if I told you they were … and also weren’t. (Yes, I’m being serious.)
The 79th Annual Golden Globe Awards were held at The Beverly Hilton — as they usually are. Normally, the hotel’s ballroom is filled to the brim with celebrities soaking in the glitz and glamour of one of Hollywood’s biggest parties. Instead, this year, the hotel ballroom sat just about silent, filled only with the dignitaries of the scandal-plagued Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), the show’s organizers who also vote for the winners.
Yet, this paltry display was hidden behind closed doors, as the ceremony wasn’t even televised this year — a first since 2008 when the Writers Guild of America went on strike. NBC decided not to televise the ceremony in May 2021 amid calls for greater diversity among the HFPA’s members. As a result, this year’s winners were announced through the Golden Globes’ Twitter account and on the show’s website.
How did we get here? It seemed like the Globes were a staple of awards season – and really, they were. But the seeds for the show’s downfall had been sown long ago.
The HFPA has repeatedly faced accusations of corruption. In 1982, actress Pia Zadora won the Golden Globe for New Star of the Year, despite her performance being critically panned (including in a hilariously curt review from the New York Times that said she was “not a very convincing actress” and called her performance “spectacularly inept”). It was later revealed Zadora’s wealthy husband flew several HFPA voters out to private screenings and heavily financed her awards consideration campaign. The scandal caused CBS, the network then televising it, to drop the show.
In 2011, the group’s former publicist, Michael Russell, filed a $2 million lawsuit claiming its members accepted gifts and payment in exchange for their awards votes and that these practices could violate federal law.
Furthermore, many of the journalists that work for the HFPA have been criticized for lacking sufficient journalistic chops. Many of them have been described as engaging in superficial coverage that focuses on flattery and maintaining a good relationship with movie studios and their executives.
It’s this corruption and lack of integrity that has made the Golden Globes a sort of laughing stock, even among the actors to whom it doles out awards year after year. Presenters and guests alike are often visibly drunk, and the whole affair is brushed off as a party instead of a formal ceremony.
Ricky Gervais has been invited to host the show five times, and every time, his monologue has included scathing, unapologetic insults aimed at the organization that invited him. In 2016, he called a Golden Globe “a bit of metal that some nice old confused journalists wanted to give you in person so they could meet you and have a selfie with you,” in his opening monologue.
A bombshell investigation by the LA Times in February of 2021 also showcased the most glaring of the HFPA’s woes: its startling lack of diversity.
At the time it was published, the HFPA had 87 voting members, not one of whom was Black. Though the group has said repeatedly that it was committed to addressing the discrepancy, a surprising lack of nominations for Black-led films like “Judas and the Black Messiah” and “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” brought tensions to a fever pitch at 2021’s ceremony. These incidents and others inspired the TIMES UP Foundation to launch the #TimesUpGlobes campaign.
Since last year’s ceremony, numerous entities have publicly criticized or withdrawn their support from the Golden Globes and the HFPA. Tom Cruise gave back his three Golden Globes in protest. Ava DuVernay slammed the group’s “widely known” lack of diversity. Last May, WarnerMedia, Amazon Studios and Netflix announced they were boycotting all events related to the HFPA until further notice, saying it wasn’t doing enough to address concerns around diversity.
In response, the HFPA announced they were kicking off numerous diversity initiatives, including the hiring of an independent diversity, equity and inclusion officer. Last October, the group inaugurated six Black members as part of its 21-member 2021 class.
But that still leaves a lot to be desired. The group’s new Black members make up only 5.5 percent of the HFPA’s voting body. In addition, the HFPA’s efforts pale in comparison to those of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the group responsible for the Oscars, which successfully set out to double the number of female members and those from underrepresented racial and ethnic communities by 2020 after 2015’s “Oscars So White” scandal.
The HFPA is clearly not as dedicated to rooting out both the corruption and lack of diversity that have condemned it to near-irrelevance this past year. This isn’t the first time these issues have come up, and given the pace of efforts to rectify them, it won’t be the last.
So why should we bother giving the Golden Globes as much attention as we used to? Sure, awards shows are fun, but are they really as fun when they’re corrupt, blatantly racist and have no credibility whatsoever?
We’ve got the Oscars. We’ve got the Emmys. We don’t need the Golden Globes — not anymore.
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