The controversy behind the Golden Globe Awards


Hollywood Foreign Press Association

The seventy-ninth annual Golden Globes take a new approach as they did not air on television this year.

The seventy-ninth annual Golden Globe Awards is not under its usual spotlight this year.  The public exposed the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), the organization behind the television and film awards, for lack of diversity in their voters.  Since February 2021, the association has attempted to increase its membership and diversity, according to The New York Times.   Sacred Heart Greenwich sophomore and Introduction to Filmmaking student Ella Breitenbach discussed how the controversy surrounding the Golden Globes affects her view on the awards ceremony. 

The Golden Globes is the third most-watched awards show after the Grammys and the Academy Awards, according to The New York Times.  The one aspect that differentiates the Golden Globes from all other award shows is that members of the HFPA vote on the winners.  The association is a non-profit organization that donates to entertainment-related charities.  The HFPA requires specific guidelines to become a member, including that members must be journalists that publish often, according to goldenglobes.comIf a member wants to vote on the Golden Globes, the journalists must publish articles at least six times a year and attend at least 25 of the new conferences that the organization holds, according to The New York Times.

Ms. Scarlett Johansson speaks out against the HFPA, the organization behind the Glode Globes.  Courtesy of Ms. Valerie Macon

For many years, Hollywood mocked the Golden Globes as they suspected the organization behind them was corrupt and untrustworthyPeople continued to watch the awards show, supporting the HFPA, until celebrities such as Ms. Scarlett Johansson and Mr. Tom Cruise openly retracted their support of the organization, according to The New York Times.  If The Los Angeles Times did not release its investigation on the lack of diversity within the HFPA and these celebrities did not speak out against them, many people would not be aware of the issues behind the group.  Ella explained why the public is only discussing the organization’s problems now. 

“As these award shows are typically highly respected and trusted, I guess nobody thought to look into them or question them until they saw people they idolized stand against them. You would not assume that there would be a problem,” Ella said.

In comparison to the Academy Awards, which has over 9,000 voters, the Golden Globes only has 87 voting members.  With a low number of voters, films and television shows do not win the awards they deserve as there is not enough variety in the voters.  Several nominees also do not receive the recognition they deserve because film production companies influence the votes by sending gifts to the voting members, according to The New York Times

In February of 2021, the HFPA faced backlash due to its small membership which did not include a single Black member, according to The New York TimesMs. Kjersti Flaa pointed out this information in her lawsuit after the association denied her acceptance two times.  Ms. Flaa claims that admittance is less about journalistic abilities and more about whether or not the applicant opposes a member who is valued by film studios. 

Back in May of 2021, National Broadcasting Company (NBC) announced they will not be airing the Gloden Globes due to the problems within the HFPA, according to The New York Times.  Although the organization has taken steps to fix its issues with representation, the damage its previous decisions caused is irreversible.  Not until after big Hollywood celebrities spoke out against the HFPA did the organization begin to make changes.  This caused audiences to question whether these changes are due to genuine concern, or because of their lack of support from Hollywood, according to The New York Times.  Ella examined the importance of fairness in competitions such as the Golden Globes. 

“It is important for everything, in general, to be fair, especially for competition to be fair, because people admire and respect these organizations that are responsible for award shows,” Ella said.  “People look up to the nominated shows and films, especially the winners. When they realize that winners might not have deserved the award, they not only doubt the award ceremony, but they also begin to doubt the people behind it.  When there is an unfair chance and there is an unequal playing field, of course, it is going to affect everyone’s view on award shows like the Golden Globes.” 

Regardless of NBC’s cancellation of telecasting the Golden Globes, the HFPA announced the nominees of the 2022 Golden Globes in early December, and they announced the winners, January 9.  The organization attempted to diversify the categories by having two women, Ms. Jane Campion and Ms. Maggie Gyllenhaal, nominated for Best Director Motion Picture, and three Black actors, Mr. Will Smith, Mr. Denzel Washington, and Mr. Mahershala Ali, nominated for Best Actor- Motion Picture Drama, according to   Although these nominations are a step towards a solution, critics argue that these efforts are too little too late, according to The New York Times

The Golden Globes took place in the ballroom in the Beverly Hilton hotel. Courtesy of Ms. Emma Mcintyre via HFPA.

The HPFA first announced the Golden Globes winners at the Beverly Hilton hotel, and later publicly announced them on Twitter.  Ms. Jane Campion, one of the two female directors nominated, won the award for Best Director Motion Picture.  Ms. Campion’s film, “The Power of the Dog,” won three Golden Globes, as well as Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story.” Usually, awards shows are great publicity for films, but as the Golden Globes did not air on television, the winners did not improve their box office sales, according to The New York Times

After releasing their new reformed plan in May, according to  The HFPA is slowly beginning to resolve the issues within the organization by increasing its membership by 50 percent and revising its code of conduct.  The problem the group now faces is if they will be able to gain the trust of their viewers even after their reformed plan.  Ella believes that the organization’s new plan will work. 

“You have to see how the first couple years go because there is now this pressure for them to be more diverse and fairer,” Ella said.  “We have to wait and see how it will work out as people are now more aware, there is more of a push for them to fix their problem.” 

Featured Image Courtesy of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association