The Globes don’t seem so golden anymore.
Sunday’s telecast, which aired from separate stages in New York and Los Angeles, lacked the drenched festivities of a typical Golden globes ceremony. Like last September Emmys, the winners virtually accepted their trophies, an understandable precaution in the event of a pandemic that deprives us of the spontaneity of celebrities. What is an award ceremony without reaction plans? No red carpet seamless? What are globes without these champagne-sloshed – or, in the case of Jack Nicholson, Valium-sloshed – speeches that arrive late at night? The Globes often claim to be “the party of the year”, but it was the year no one could party.
The prices themselves are also worth litigation. It was exciting to see Daniel Kaluuya, “Ted Lasso” and director Chloe Zhao win, but recent surveys from the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times details what some observers have long known: Studios and networks are wooing the tax-exempt Hollywood Foreign Press Association with expensive giveaways, galas, travel, and handwritten greeting cards.
This makes it impossible to trust the Globes as a guarantee of quality. Votes are, in some cases, bought. And even when it doesn’t, the HFPA disproportionately compensates its 87 members – a collective of $ 3 million in a single year, according to the New York Times. Journalists are supposed to stand up for the truth, but they are just opportunists. (By comparison, no one who belongs to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, including its elected leaders, gets paid to facilitate the Oscars.)
With or without ethical breaches, distinctions are subjective. Winning or losing a statuette is not the last word on the value of a work of art. But the prices show that they are selling with authority. They are the ultimate performance of prestige. It is one thing for potential candidates to campaign; it is quite another thing that the whole foundation of an organization is corrupted. No amount of charitable donations from the HFPA can justify such adulteration.
Every year, tipsters reflect on what the Globes mean for the months-long Oscar race. But treating them like a trailblazer was still a bit of a misnomer, as the groups behind the two awards don’t share any staff. If anything, the Globes are just a disguised rehearsal. Give a compelling speech, and the Oscar voters might invite you to do the same. The only thing they had that the Emmys and the Oscars didn’t have: a lot of alcohol.
If there’s no alcohol or integrity, what’s the point? Of course, the winners of “Nomadland” and “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” are valuable public relations for current films. Maybe more people will see them, and maybe more like them will be created as a result. (Not that there could be another Borat.) But the self-seriousness that haunts awards season now seems ludicrous, and that’s before we factored in the more than 500,000 Americans who died from COVID-19.
Consider Meryl Streep’s sermon when she received Lifetime Achievement recognition in 2017, two weeks before Donald Trump’s inauguration. “Thank you, Hollywood Foreign Press,” Streep said. “Just to pick up on what Hugh Laurie said, you and all of us in this room really belong to the most vilified segments of American society right now. Think about it: Hollywood, foreigners and the press.
She wasn’t wrong, but coloring HFPA as some sort of progressive bastion was laughable then and more laughable now. A telling statistic from the Los Angeles Times report was the lack of black members, including director Ava DuVerrnay called “Old news”.
During the show, three members of HFPA offered a brief pledge to “[create] an environment where membership diversity is the norm, not the exception. But a pat statement will not correct the group’s image. That streetwise good mood is what most celebs have been doing over the past few decades. It’s part of the job, even among A-listers who are suspicious of the credibility of the HFPA. In a world where “Emily in Paris“and Sia’s Misguided Autism Movie to be celebrated, the pageantry is difficult to justify.
Like DuVernay elaborate before the show, “The truth that is not often talked about is that awards play a role in the economic reality of black filmmakers, artists of color, and women creators in this industry. Unfortunately, these brilliant things are important to those who fund, green light, produce, market and distribute our projects. “
I don’t want the Golden Globes to go away despite decreasing grades. They are funny! But as they currently exist, they don’t reveal anything about what’s going on in Hollywood or beyond. Have streaming services officially monopolized the industry? Has popular culture made significant strides towards inclusiveness? Was it an exemplary year in the entertainment industry? Is Jared Leto a good actor? We can’t trust this show to tell us that. Perhaps the only way to right the wrongs of HFPA is to start from scratch.
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