On the night of February 28th, 2021, the 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards took place. Tina Fey and Amy Pohler hosted from two different coasts. For this year’s show, there was a small audience; however, none were the usual A-list celebrities. Instead, the audience consisted of front line workers. Even with the addition of this deserving audience, the Golden Globes, NBC, and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) faced heavy scrutiny and controversy for multiple reasons.
First of all, what is the Golden Globes? And more specifically, who is the Hollywood Foreign Press Association? The Golden Globes is an award show honoring the best in television and film. The voters for such awards are the members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. The HFPA is truly a mystery to almost everyone, as it is very secretive. However, according to the Golden Globes website, the non-profit organization houses “international journalists based in Southern California. The HFPA has about 90 members who disseminate information about movies and television to the world through their various publications throughout the world. HFPA members attend more than 300 interviews and countless movie and television screenings throughout each year.”
This year, the HFPA faced a lot of controversy about its members regarding racial inequity. First of all, there are no Black members. In years prior, there had been conversations about the nominees and the lack of diversity. For example, the list of nominees did not include “When They See Us”––a groundbreaking series about the Central Park 5––which was not surprising to many as the topics addressed were ones usually not awarded by the HFPA. This pattern reoccurred this year with the television nominations excluding “black-ish,” “Insecure,” “Lovecraft Country,” “I May Destroy You,” “The Good Lord Bird,” and “Bridgerton.” These were just some of the television productions that were snubbed and were just a few of the ones that sparked conversation regarding race, racism, and the intersections of sex, gender, and genre. The snub for “I May Destroy You” sparked outrage as many argued that “racism is the only explanation.”In the film category, the best picture nominations did not include any of the following: “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” “Judas and the Black Messiah,” “One Night in Miami,” and “Da 5 Bloods.” These Black-led ensemble films, however, have been at the forefront of this award season. Shockingly, Spike Lee’s “Da 5 Bloods” was snubbed in every eligible category. The other films did a little better in the individual categories with Daniel Kaluuya (“Judas and the Black Messiah”), Leslie Odom Jr. (“One Night in Miami”), and Viola Davis and the late Chadwick Boseman (“Ma Rainey”) being nominated in their acting categories. Boseman won for his nomination. Additionally, Regina King was nominated for best director for “One Night in Miami.” That being said, the conversation is just getting started.
I emailed Amber Tamblyn, an actress, writer, director, and the founder of the Time’s Up movement, in order to hear her opinion on the HFPA. Time’s Up has been very vocal about this situation as it has unfolded. When asked about her general opinion on the situation, she responded, “While I’m happy the HFPA has plans to accelerate the diversity of their membership going forward, it shouldn’t take an organization like Time’s Up and a public outcry for them to see this as a problem in the first place. Organizations like the HFPA need their own sustainable introspection, without being prompted to do so. As an organization that, in many ways, dictates what succeeds and what is celebrated in art and culture all over the world, it is their urgent responsibility and duty to expand their membership to include voices of all different kinds of people––people who are the very storytellers of art and culture, as a whole. The complete exclusion of Black and Brown people from the HFPA’s membership cannot simply have a cosmetic fix. My hope is that, now that they are aware of the problem, they will do everything in their power to rectify the situation and ensure they have a more diverse and inclusive membership going forward.” It is important to note that Tamblyn is white, and while her contributions and work are important, it is also crucial to listen to the voices of people of color who are speaking on this issue as well.
Links to Times Up HFPA Response