Why A World Without the Golden Globes Isn’t a Bad World At All (Column)May 10, 2021
A world without the Globes. How will we ever survive such a place? Don’t worry. I suspect we’ll get along just fine, if not better.
Long overdue for accountability, the HFPA’s awaited announcement for “transformational change” landed like a dud. The pledge was merely a thesaurus of empty promises that lacked any substantive change or addressed the organization’s history of inappropriate behavior and unethical practices.
NBC’s decision to not air the 2022 ceremony and step back from its original praise of their reform plans was smart. At this rate, the Golden Globes will be brought to you by OANN because that’ll be the only network that will entertain their divisive habits. For decades, inappropriate behavior and questionable ethics have been well reported in the media.
What does an awards season look like without them? Look back to the 2007-2008 awards season. During the writer’s strike, in a press conference that read the winners without a ceremony, red carpet or speeches, the Golden Globes offered no palpable shifts or momentum to their winners that included “Atonement” and “Sweeney Todd” over frontrunners “No Country for Old Men” and “Juno.”
Does this mean they have no further say in the 2021 film year? Not necessarily. While there won’t be a ceremony, and multiple studios have spoken out about not doing any business with the group until further notice, the HFPA could deem their own eligibilities, through the members’ foreign outlets (the ones that actually write for one still) and see the films and shows that are eligible and vote for what has opened during their yet-to-be-announced voting window. It might be a good gesture to see what they could choose from a field of films that looks richly inclusive of Asian, Black, Latino and other underrepresented groups, without the gifts and rubbing elbows of direct awards campaigning.
The fact is, every televised awards show and movie studio is part of an ecosystem, all having a direct effect on one another. Each nomination and acceptance speech is another opportunity to create buzz for award prospects and build excitement for the movies, actors and series that are mentioned. Does “Black Panther” have the same record-breaking showing at the Oscars if the Globes cannot weigh in with a best picture (drama) nomination in 2019? Does “12 Years a Slave” get to make history if it didn’t get recognized by the HFPA first in 2013? Coincidentally, those two awards years are the last two times that the Academy has shown an increase in viewership year over year, with 12% in 2019 and 6% in 2013.
Since the Golden Globes separate their awards by genres, they’ve had the greatest opportunity to recognize a wider cross-section of creative artists and have demonstrated the bare minimum in most cases. I don’t believe the industry will miss anything, save for great moments like Emma Thompson holding her shoes on stage, Jacqueline Bissett taking a lifetime to make her way to the stage after winning or Christine Lahti caught in the bathroom during her category announcement. Critics Choice, SAG and BAFTA still exist and can have an influence on the race, and are all making strides to improve, despite none being all the way “there” yet.
But let’s be honest here. If the HFPA were to miraculously get their ducks in a row, what POC journalist would want to accept an invitation or want to apply? The continuous fight to ensure that representation doesn’t become “tokenism” would be very much apparent in accepting the first wave of members from different backgrounds. If you didn’t see my value before this explosion in the media, why would I let you use my cultural identity as a notch in your racist belt? I, and every other underrepresented group fighting for inclusion, deserve better.
The HFPA had a “get out of jail free” card during #OscarsSoWhite in 2016. They could have added new voices to their well-known organization that has a track record of racist behavior. They did not. They chose to double-down, even making it more apparent that they are only in it for themselves.
The HFPA snubbed the hit Netflix show “When They See Us” from Ava DuVernay, which after racking up 16 Emmy nominations, made history for star Jharrel Jerome as the first Afro-Latino and Dominican to win an acting Emmy for lead actor in a limited series. Instead, they wanted to ensure Russell Crowe (for Showtime’s “The Loudest Voice”) wasn’t ignored for his less-than beloved portrayal of Roger Ailes. They’ve never been an integral voice to the Primetime Emmy conversation, with many of their winners failing to garner attention (i.e., “The Affair” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”), so this begins to beg the question: what is their purpose in this space?
And where do they go from here?
It’s time for NBC to step in and ask for resignations of all its current 87 members. The name is tainted. There is nothing “golden” about the group and not “global” either. Their questionable and unethical practices should not be rewarded, nor should any talented and worthy journalists that could be added be guilty by association. Clearing the chessboard and giving the org a clean slate will only improve the public perception.
It’s well-known in the industry that many of the “foreign press” members have not been working for decades. There are some journalists worth keeping within the ranks, and you can invite them to reapply if need be.
One important note to all the studio and network executives, public relation firms, awards strategists, filmmakers and movie stars using this moment for self-congratulations and good press: You are not free from any responsibility that gave the industry the HFPA. If anything, you are responsible for their rise to power and prominence in the industry. A monster is a monster because someone enables them to be a monster. You returned their calls, sent them swag, paraded your talent in front of them (and even had them write hand-written thank you cards to all the members). If you truly care about the anger and hurt of the realization that the HFPA didn’t have any Black members, then go through your Rolodex of press contacts and count how many POC you have contacted to pitch a story or how many emails or invites you’ve made to those individuals over the past five years. My suspicion is that list will be small. You must do better too.
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