Good Riddance, Golden Globes!
On May 10, it was announced that NBC would not air the 2022 Golden Globes. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) has recently been the target of criticism for the lack of diversity in its ranks, as well as ethical complaints. The HFPA’s few and far-between attempts to address these controversies was called “window dressing” by advocacy group Time’s Up. NBC said in a statement that they “continue to believe that the HFPA is committed to meaningful reform. However, change of this magnitude takes time and work, and we feel strongly that the HFPA needs time to do it right. As such, NBC will not air the 2022 Golden Globes. Assuming the organization executes on its plan, we are hopeful [NBC] will be in a position to air the show in January 2023.”
Only that last sentence concerns me. You see, I’d go as far as to say that I believe that the Golden Globes should not be broadcast, period, and that the HFPA itself should dissolve. It’s time we all moved on from the Golden Globes, a parasite that’s been feeding off of Hollywood for decades and whose success as Oscar-season counter-programming was a fluke, the result of greed and catering to the lowest common denominator.
I have written about my affinity for the Oscars before, even when they propose bone-headed decisions like “Best Popular Film.” While not impervious to criticism, I think the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is usually a force for good. With thousands of members and a history that dates back to nearly the beginning of Hollywood itself, the Oscars are only the most public aspect of the Academy’s mission. And even the Oscars themselves spotlight seldom-seen foreign films, independent and short films, as well as the technical work of makeup artists, sound designers, set designers, visual effects artists, etc.
Additionally, the Academy offers grants and scholarships for emerging filmmakers, I myself even applied for the Academy’s prestigious Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting a few years back. The Academy’s new museum, set to open in Los Angeles in a few months, shows a commitment to preserving film history. Of particular interest to me personally are the Academy’s various film preservation efforts, ensuring that our most cherished films will be around for future generations. Other awards-season organizations, such as the Screen Actors Guild, Producers Guild of America, Directors Guild of America, etc., most closely resemble hybrid labor unions/trade associations that lobby for and represent the various roles on a film set.
In contrast, the HFPA does very little to none of what I just mentioned. Rather than being comprised of thousands the way the Academy and most other awards organizations are, the HFPA is comprised of roughly 90 members. And rather than industry professionals, the HFPA is primarily composed of foreign journalists, which is using the term generously. As The New York Times stated in an article from almost 30 years ago about the HFPA, “some of the journalists don’t seem to write much.”
In fact, one of the original reasons why the Golden Globes were chosen to be broadcast came down to the fact that other television networks wanted their own version of the ratings-grabbing Oscars every year. Other reasons included that the Golden Globes rewarded both film and television, the Golden Globes did not hand out awards for the less-popular technical categories, and simply because television producers at the time liked the name “Golden Globes” and thought it was catchy. Later, when the Golden Globes struggled for relevance, they were brought under the banner of Dick Clark Productions, bringing his overproduced style and helping to quell the HFPA’s desperation in the process.
But, controversy after controversy has soiled the reputation of this organization and its respective award shows time and time again, proving that it’s, at best, an opportunity for foreign journalists to hobnob with movie stars and for said stars themselves to get drunk during the Diet Oscars, and at worst, an outright scam. One of the earliest instances of the Globes’ utter stupidity dates back nearly 40 years, when actress Pia Zadora won “New Star of the Year” for a widely-panned performance in the movie Butterfly, despite the fact that it wasn’t even her first movie. (That would be 1964’s infamous Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, parodied in my favorite episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 nearly three decades later.) Many pointed to Zadora’s wealthy husband, Meshulam Riklis, as having “bought” the Golden Globe for his wife by flying HFPA members to Las Vegas in order to host them at his Riviera hotel and casino.
Remember that New York Times article I referenced earlier? Yeah, it was airing many of the same complaints that I am now, all the way back in 1993. It even included a quote from the great director, Rob Reiner: “The one thing that’s most annoying and illegitimate about [the HFPA] is the way they conduct their interviews. Each of these people asks to have their picture taken with you. There’s something unkosher about that. That kind of cheesiness permeates that organization. It’s one thing to have an organization writing articles all over the world. But that doesn’t seem to be the main thrust. The main thrust seems to be an elaborate scheme to have their pictures taken with you. They interview you and then they come at you one at a time, one after another, to pose for a picture. Sure, I want to promote my movie, but I don’t want to waste my time with people who are just pushing for a photo op.”
But that’s not all, folks. A decade ago, the movies Burlesque and The Tourist were both nominated for Best Picture- Musical or Comedy despite absolutely dismal reviews from critics. And even in this most recent awards show, the selection of nominating Emily in Paris, a light-hearted Netflix television comedy starring Lily Collins, for Best Television Series- Musical or Comedy was met with controversy. As Krystie Lee Yandoli wrote for Buzzfeed News, “Many people were frustrated that shows like HBO’s Insecure, starring Issa Rae, and I May Destroy You received zero nominations.” Deborah Copaken, one of the writers on Emily in Paris, even wrote an op-ed in The Guardian about how I May Destroy You deserved the nomination more.
But this all came to a head with two scathing Los Angeles Times investigations into the HFPA in February, which included the revelation that the HFPA had no Black members. Additionally, board meetings sounded less like the proceedings of an arts-focused organization and more like a high school cafeteria food-fight, with the Times describing “members falling asleep during screenings, hurling insults at one another during news conferences and frequently engaging in personal feuds,” while maintaining that “the group’s meetings [are] frequently contentious.” The HFPA’s former president, Phillip Berk, who has been accused of sexual assault by actor Brendan Fraser, was expelled for sharing an article with other members that referred to Black Lives Matter as “a ‘racist hate group,’” according to The Guardian.
Every year during awards season, I have to remind friends, family, and colleagues of my disdain for the Golden Globes. “But Will,” they plead, “aren’t the Golden Globes’ hosts typically funnier than the Oscars’ hosts?” Sure, especially now as it appears like, for some incomprehensible reason, we will never have actual Oscar hosts ever again. But the opening comedic Golden Globes monologues, be they performed by either the always-irreverent Ricky Gervais or the incomparable duo of Tina Fey & Amy Poehler, are almost always the only highlight of the entire broadcast. Nor am I charmed with watching celebrities getting drunk, I’d rather see a sober acceptance speech delivered from the heart than a slurred, spur-of-the-moment recap of who worked on a film’s production team.
As for the recent developments, I can’t remember a time in which an industry turned so adamantly against one of its own adjacent organizations. Just look at some of what has happened: three-time winner Tom Cruise has returned all of his Golden Globes; media giants like Netflix and WarnerMedia, among others, have urged immediate action; 100 public relations firms are refusing to do business with the HFPA until a timeline for improvement is committed to; Scarlett Johansson has asked her fellow actors to “step back” from the HFPA, admitting that the way she was treated by HFPA members bordered on sexual harassment. The message is clear: Hollywood wants to expel the HFPA with an ex-communication so severe it’d rival papal power. Yet, this has all been a long time coming. As one publicist told Vanity Fair, “this is decades of bad behavior,” and it’s almost like the Devil himself has come to collect his due for those decades of bad behavior…
Time and time again, the HFPA has proven that they are less advocates for the industry that they supposedly represent than they are leeches, sucking off the glitz and glamor of Hollywood and offering very little in return. The Golden Globes are now facing major scrutiny that appears to threaten their very existence. If this happens to be their demise, good riddance. This only came about because of the activism of concerned movie fans the world over, tired of the hypocrisy and two-timing of one of the sleaziest awards shows in the business. Good work. I really hope this is the final nail in the coffin for either the HFPA or the Golden Globes, or better yet, both. Now, let’s get the ball rolling on canceling the other worst award show of all time: the MTV Movie & TV Awards.