Did you know the Golden Globes are on this Sunday?
Let's be honest - unless you're an entertainment journalist, someone who lives and dies for award ceremonies and red carpets, or you're someone who follows the industry with religious fervour, odds are the Golden Globes is just one in a multitude of fancy-pants awards ceremony that takes place at this time of the year.
It's best known for its hosts. Over the years, the likes of Ricky Gervais, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, Jimmy Fallon and other 'SNL' alums have stepped up to host it and, in doing so, have often trained their comedic crosshair on the very institution that puts the show together - the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. The hosts of the Oscars rarely had the kind of acidity for AMPAS that the Golden Globes did. Indeed, it's no secret any longer - if it ever was one - that the HFPA has been in receipt of generous access and tributes from the studios over the years.
A 2020 lawsuit by Norwegian journalist Kjersti Flaa alleged that the HFPA repeatedly barred new foreign journalists from joining its ranks, and that it had "a culture of corruption". The lawsuit was dismissed and HFPA responded to the suit, saying it was filled with "salacious and false allegations". Just days before its 2021 broadcast, the LA Times published a lengthy investigation that highlighted numerous scandals, and allegations of deals between studios and HFPA members in exchange for votes and nominations. It also highlighted that HFPA had no black members in two decades, a point which Tina Fey noted in her opening monologue. "I realize," said Fey, "HFPA, maybe you guys didn't get the memo because your workplace is the back booth of a French McDonald's, but you gotta change that."
HFPA immediately began work on righting its wrongs. It pledged to increase its membership by 21, adding journalists from Latin, Asian, and Middle East outlets. A new code of conduct was written and implemented, which deliberately barred the acceptance or soliciting of "anything of value in exchange for an action taken by the member in his or her HFPA capacity." They partnered with the NAACP as well as hiring a permanent Chief Diversity Officer.
Yet, none of this helped. NBC, which normally broadcasts the ceremony, has refused to do so for the first time in its 26-year history with HFPA. Tom Cruise returned his Golden Globes. In May of last year, Amazon, Netflix and Warners all pledged to boycott any HFPA-related events. Yet, it remains to be seen if any of those nominated for this year's awards will turn up to collect their statues on Sunday night.
As for NBC, the TV broadcast had been steadily declining in ratings for years. This trend, however, isn't anything new or something unique to the Golden Globes. The Oscars has had similar slumps in ratings, despite the fact that social media becomes bombarded when the ceremonies take place. The pandemic, of course, has left a further impact on both the Golden Globes and award ceremonies in general. It's not yet clear how many people will be in person at the Golden Globes ceremony this year, and with a new wave of cases making its way across the globe, the likelihood is many will simply opt to either accept via surrogate or simply ignore the ceremony entirely.
A larger question is whether the Golden Globes can continue without a broadcast partner, and if anyone really cares whether it does or doesn't continue. Most studios, it seems, were happy to play and dance to HFPA's tune when it suited them. When the investigation by the LA Times lifted the lid on their dealings, everyone washed their hands of them. The changes that HFPA has made thus far appear to have done them no favours. It's highly doubtful that, if NBC were to somehow broadcast this year's ceremony, the ratings would be much better than last year. No host has been announced either.
The pandemic has done a number on bullshit Hollywood ceremonies like the Oscars, the SAGs, the Grammys, and the Golden Globes. It's forced everyone to look at them, really look at them, and assess their material value and worth. Most are coming up empty. In the age of endless content and studio blockbusters forcing out artistic endeavours, does anyone really give a shit if some black-and-white, four-hour movie gets nominated for everything and wins nothing? The same exhausting indifference could be applied to anything you like - Formula 1, UFC, boxing, soccer teams, whatever. Who cares, really?
The Golden Globes was unique, as a ceremony, in that everyone in the room seemed to know it was fundamentally bullshit. The host was in on it. We at home were in on it. The only one who seemed to think it mattered at all was HFPA. As a reliable indicator for the Oscars, the Golden Globes were pretty useless. So if nobody seems pretty pushed if it happens this year, and audiences seem less inclined to give it the time of day anymore, should it continue? Does it have any place in awards season, now that it's been tainted by daylight? Arguably, no. There are plenty of other journalist-led awards ceremonies - the Critics' Choice, being one - that don't have a stink around them. Outlets, such as our own, will cover the winners and losers as is our duty. But beyond that, it's hard to see anyone pining for its loss on the awards season calendar.
Relevancy is its own currency, and the Golden Globes is sorely in debt.