In the past, the Golden Globes has been an awards ceremony that, to many, has been considered one of the most fun Hollywood events. The hosts, like this year’s Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, waste no time when it comes to roasting the audience of celebrities who are more socially lubricated as the alcohol flows freely and a casual banquet-like environment sets up for more impromptu, unpredictable moments that are worthy of a fun Monday morning news story that will go viral.
Fun, right? Well, 2021 is a different year.
With a pandemic and a racial reckoning hitting the country in full force, decades of criticism and underlying issues of questionable work ethics that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) has managed to sidestep are catching up to them.
Not even five minutes in, Fey playfully explained the HFPA to the audience of essential workers in New York’s Rainbow Room saying that it has about 90 international non-Black press members — which got some laughs. Other than that, Fey and Poehler sidestepped the conversation about the controversy with humor and basically said, “You gotta change that”. Maybe it was better that the SNL alums didn’t address it.
The cracks in the HFPA that have been ignored are starting to crumble. In the weeks leading to tonight’s ceremony, they have been dragged and blasted. In the pre-show for the Golden Globes, it was teased that the HFPA was going to address the lack of inclusion of Black journalists in the organization. This made audiences believe that there was going to be a huge announcement about this so when HFPA president Ali Sar came out with members Helen Hoehne and Meher Tatna during the ceremony we braced ourselves for some sort of well-thought-out initiative of some sort.
Without directly saying it, Hoehne addressed the issues and admitted that the HFPA has a lot of work to do and said that “Black representation is vital.” The trio said that they want to make sure that everyone gets a seat at their table and that they want to make diverse membership “the norm”. Sar said that they are “going to make that happen.”
…and that was it.
Throughout the night there was talk about inclusion, diversity and representation by winners like Schitt’s Creek‘s Dan Levy and a sprinkling of casual jokes about the lack of Black people of the HFPA like when This Is Us‘s Sterling K. Brown and Susan Kelechi Watson presented awards. The HFPA seems to know it has a problem with inclusion and is responding by saying, “We’re working on it.”
This didn’t exactly help the need to contain the Pandora’s Box that has opened for the HFPA. This combined with the unfortunate technical difficulties with Daniel Kaluuya’s win and that weird picture-in-picture speech from Kemp Powers for the Soul win for Best Animated Feature did not seem like a good look for the ceremony which has been getting put through the ringer for its lack of inclusion for the past years — but specifically for 2021.
In the biodome that is known as Hollywood, there have always been rumors about the HFPA and their practices have been circulating — and that’s just exactly what they are: rumors. There have been no solid truths to support these rumors of unethical practices and systemic problems to hold this elusive group of 87 international press members accountable for their actions…then the Los Angeles Times published their report on how the HFPA has zero Black members and how they have made questionable payments to their members.
This is only the start of problems for the HFPA. Many of these accusations and criticisms can be traced to years back, but again, those were rumors. Let’s keep the timeframe to now, when Minari, which is essentially a story about the American dream, was thrown into contention for Best Foreign Language Film instead of Best Drama Feature — but that is small potatoes compared to what the HFPA was about to face.
Since announcing its nominees for the 78th annual Golden Globes, the HFPA has been highly scrutinized for its lack of diversity with its nominees. Yes, there is a peppering of people of color and underrepresented people in the categories, but overall, the Globes are very… white. Critically acclaimed shows and films like I May Destroy You and Da 5 Bloods were noticeably absent from the nominations while Sia’s problematic Music managed to get love while Emily in Paris somehow became an awards season darling in the eyes of the HFPA. This may be an indication of how in tune the HFPA is with the rest of the world but more importantly, it’s a reflection of their membership.
Ellen Pompeo wrote an open letter to them and “white Hollywood” a day before the ceremony while the Directors Guild of America and GLAAD has put them on blast. In addition, Kerry Washington, JJ Abrams, Jurnee Smollett, Damon Lindelof, and Shonda Rhimes put in their own two cents when it comes to the issues.
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