THE ANGELS Open letters, boycotts, vows and return of statues. What has happened in recent months about the Golden Globes, a gala evening with an extremely tarnished reputation?
The Golden Globes have long been the target of criticism because they are decided by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which has less than a hundred voters. The Golden Globes are a huge cultural event with an international reach and millions of dollars in advertising times between the announcement of individual categories. Just for comparison – the Oscars in 2020 were decided by 9,427 members of the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
In August 2020, a Norwegian journalist filed a lawsuit against the HFPA Kjersti Flaa. Norka claimed that her association had deliberately rejected her application for membership, because it is, in fact, an almost cartel organization operating on the principle of corruption, which allows only the “chosen” among themselves. This was to apply to the competition films and actors themselves. Flaa failed in Hollywood, but her lawsuit caused a stir, and for the first time, the public’s eyes began to focus on who was behind the entire organization that awarded the second most prestigious film awards.
The American daily Los Angeles Times was at the forefront of the “investigation.” Questions have been raised about the legitimacy of HFPA members and the ethical side of their approach. In addition to finding that there was not a single African-American member of the electorate, the newspaper also addressed the somewhat inexplicable failure of some highly favored works, such as the award-winning series I can destroy you produced by the BBC.
Anti-personnel training of members
Two days before this year’s Golden Globes (February 26), Time´s Up organized two protests over the absence of African-American members. Protests and social media contributions at the time were shared by actors Laura Dern, Kerry Washington, Simon Pegg and comedian Amy Schumer. The Time´s Up movement itself originated in 2018 in response to a wave of sexual harassment in Hollywood. Since then, he has fought for aspects of social justice in the world film mecca.
On the day of the Golden Globes presentation, the HFPA commented on the situation directly on the stage. “We celebrate the works of artists from all over the world. We acknowledge that we still have a lot of work to do. African American representation is a must. We need to have African-American journalists in our organization, “said HFPA Vice President Helen Hoehne.
Audience numbers showed that viewers did not like politicized art. This year’s Golden Globes had the worst viewership in their entire history. Their live broadcast was tuned by about 5.4 million viewers, which is a year-on-year decrease of 60%. To be fair, a similar drop later this year was met by other big awards, including Oscars (a 58% drop) or Grammy Music Awards (a drop of about 50%).
On March 6, the HFPA issued a statement committing itself to increasing racial diversity among its members. She therefore signed a five-year contract with the doctor Shaun Harper, a professor at the University of South Carolina and an expert on racial issues. In addition, the association promised anti-racitic training of its current members.
Racist competition? Actors and filmmakers in an open letter announce a boycott of the Golden Globes
But that was not enough in the eyes of the public. Nine later, it sent an open letter to the HFPA to a hundred prestigious Hollywood agencies representing actors and filmmakers, calling for a concrete plan to eradicate racism, not abstract concepts. If the HFPA did not publish a specific plan, the agencies and their clients promised to boycott the Golden Globes in the future. In response, the HFPA said it would accept at least 13 African Americans.
The situation worked for almost a month, so that the dispute was finally resolved. However, on Friday, May 18, the Deadline server did not publish a report that an HFPA member and its former president Philip Berk about the Black Lives Matter movement stated that it was a hate movement. He called its co-founder Patrisse Cullors a “trained Marxist.”
NBC Television, which traditionally broadcasts Golden Globes, condemned Berk’s behavior and called on the HFPA to dismiss it immediately. The organization agreed. “Philip Berk is no longer a member of the Association of Foreign Journalists in Hollywood as of today,” the organization said in a press release on April 20.
Some ran out of patience after Berk’s scandal. On the same day, April 20, Smith & Company, which took care of crisis communication with the Golden Globes, terminated its agreement with HFPA. Shaun Harper, who was hired by the HFPA in March as a diversity adviser, also left. According to him, the organization lied to him about the seriousness and extent of the problem.
Sunshine Sachs, a marketing company, also severed ties with HFPA. She told Deadline magazine that: “Working with HFPA has long been detrimental to our reputation. We cannot afford this from working with one specific client. That’s not how we work. “
We cannot ignore your collective incompetence
On Monday, May 3, the HFPA finally announced a concrete plan for better racial diversity. Among other things, she promised that only in 2021 among themselves 20 African Americans. It has committed itself to increasing the total number of its members by at least 50% in 18 months. All this with an emphasis on members from disadvantaged ethnic minorities. The HFPA immediately voted for this plan itself – 72 members were in favor, 3 against, the rest abstained.
But even that was not enough. On Friday, May 7, the association received an open letter from Netflix, in which the director of the streaming giant announces a boycott of the entire competition. “We do not believe that these proposed changes, with an emphasis on expanding the racial diversity of members, will solve the systemic and deep racial problems that the HFPA has,” Director Ted Sarandos wrote in the letter. “That’s why we refuse to work with you until we see bigger and more emphatic changes. “Netflix and many of the talented artists we work with can no longer ignore HFPA’s collective inability to address these issues.”
The boycott was joined by, for example, the Amazon studio, media giant WarnerMedia or actors Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson and Tom Cruise. The latter has stated that it intends to return to the HFPA all the Golden Globes it has won during its career – two for starring roles in films Jerry Maguire (1997) a Born on July 4 (1990), one for the supporting role in the film Magnolia (2000).
So far, the last nail in the coffin of the once prestigious competition was hammered by NBC television. The already traditional platform for live broadcasts from the Golden Globes announced on Monday, May 10, that it will not broadcast next year. “We believe the HFPA is working hard on reform. But such a reform requires effort and time. That is why NBC has decided not to broadcast the Golden Globes 2022, “the company said in a press release.