“A lot of talented people of color have been snubbed in the major categories; unfortunately nothing can be done about it, the Hollywood Foreign Press is all very, very racist, “English comedian Ricky Gervais said at the 2020 Golden Globes, which he hosted. This unintentionally premonitory statement forms the basis of the This year’s ceremony – or lack thereof. Big studios and celebrities are boycotting the event – Tom Cruise even going so far as to return three of his trophies.
This year’s Golden Globes Awards were held as a private event – without a red carpet, ceremony, glitter or glamor.
The controversy is this: The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), a coalition of journalists who distribute the coveted trophies each year, has been exposed by the Los Angeles Times to be a somewhat dubious coterie of people around the world. The organization has been in the throes of scandal for a long time, and reports have revealed several ethical lapses, internal conflicts and unprofessional conduct within the organization. In addition, of the 87 members, none is black, which shows a lack of diversity.
A lawsuit filed by a Norwegian journalist accused the HFPA of a “culture of corruption” and claimed it was operating like a cartel – monopolizing access to Hollywood and controlling entry. The lawsuit also claimed that members were accepting “thousands of dollars in emoluments” behind a “code of silence,” from the same studios they later granted generously. An example : Emilie in Paris (2020), a critical show, receiving two Golden Globe nominations, after more than 30 HFPA members traveled to Paris to visit its sets. On the other hand, I can destroy you (2020) – a series exploring the delicate intersections of race, trauma, sexual assault and whether there can ever be a closure – has been snubbed.
“Those who have interacted with the organization describe members falling asleep during screenings, insulting each other at press conferences and frequently engaging in personal feuds,” the Times noted. The main concerns that prompted the major studios to boycott the awards, and NBC to refuse to broadcast them, were that the HFPA wields inordinate award power.
The Golden Globes are a strange beast in Hollywood. They are among the most important rewards and are also the most mocked, simultaneously. The Independent described them like this: “The ‘drunken grandmother on the dance floor’ of the awards show: weird and scary, but impossible to look away. “
Of all the great awards in the film and television industry, the Golden Globes stand out particularly as the “loose” and “boozy” counterpart of the more respectable Oscars or Emmys. “Arts awards can be inherently silly and driven more by the hype and the happy hand than a serious assessment of artistic merit, but the Globes have a way to remove the veneer of respectability,” notes GQ.
Their appointments have sometimes been mind-boggling at best, downright unfair at worst. But the whole point of the show is that they’re just fun to watch. Clips of Ricky Gervais hooking up celebrities for their hypocrisy during the five years he’s hosted them continue to surface on social media, and weird choices such as Get out and The Martian be nominated in the comedy category for Funny Thoughts.
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And yet year after year they achieve high ratings and are NBC’s second most watched show after sports. This year, however, there isn’t even anything to see. If the main draw was the frivolous air, the drunken ramblings of the hosts, the glamor of the red carpet and the general spectacle, have they even arrived this year, without any of it? The fanfare is what many critics have cited as diluting the Globes in particular – with HFPA members known to take selfies with stars and covet favors in return for votes. Plus, it’s well known that the rewards don’t matter, it’s the show that matters.
“I’ve heard that the fun of the event comes from the fact that the nominees know that the awards don’t matter, that the ceremony lacks solemnity and personal importance, not to mention the real importance, of the Oscars, and then the guests relax, some of them drink, and they give the show a dragging charm that sets it apart from Hollywood’s self-celebration, ”writes Richard Brody, for The New Yorker .
When the weight of the award itself lies in the spectacle, the attention and public adulation it attracts for the recipients, they mean very little without. Indeed, the show is the reward, and the show, sometimes, should not go on. Then what ?
Without all of that this year, who cares? For winners to really feel like they’ve accomplished something, they arguably need an audience to devour their delicate waves, to thank their families and their sometimes political statements that spark a wave of activity on Twitter. In short, the Globes can be an elaborate hype beast for stars who have already proven themselves elsewhere.
But the question calls for more awards in Hollywood – even in Bollywood, for that matter: do awards really matter? How many of them, apart from the Oscars, are synonymous with prestige and genuine recognition of talent? Other fields – such as publishing, fine arts, science, and literature – also have awards, but there hasn’t been a particular time in the history of network television when the awards Nobel drew a spectacular audience. This form of influence is totally different – the very brand is to avoid fame, fame and focus on pure art. For each type of reward, there is therefore a tradition of support that makes them what they are.
In film and television, the allure of award ceremonies is the allure of fame and fame. The winners gain influence by participating in and winning the biggest party in the film industry; and the party itself is a big deal because the stars are appearing. The alluring nature of celebrity makes the movies – even music – reward subjects for daydreams, where the plebs can pretend to hold a hairbrush and deliver a long tearful acceptance speech. It is not by being recognized but by being seen that the power of the film award lies.
This year, with actors denouncing the HFPA and the Globes themselves, we may be witnessing a paradigm shift underway. The monologue from last year’s host Ricky Gervais has been widely discussed as hailing the end of fame. Whereas previously the awards bolstered the power of the stars through undying fandom and viewer admiration, in recent years disillusionment has grown and fame seems less brilliant.
People are just fed up with celebrities now – especially in the wake of the extremely destabilizing effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Arguably the stars got this, and their late boycott of the whole affair may be a belated acknowledgment that in order to be taken seriously they now have to really play the role of serious artists. It would require real credibility, not a front like it has been so far.
With all the controversy surrounding the show this year, one thing is clear: the Globes are not what the Globes are without the party. But now not many people like the party very much.
And when no one can see it, has it even happened? The (controversial) jury is still on it.