The preposterous Hollywood Foreign Press Association gravy train might have chugged on for ever if its members had just swallowed their pride and done more for diversity
Last modified on Tue 11 May 2021 11.21 EDT
An investigative report by the Los Angeles Times into the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, that notoriously rackety organisation which administers the Golden Globes, has shown an eminently corruptible body drenched in antediluvian attitudes; this has resulted in NBC cancelling its TV coverage of next year’s ceremony and Tom Cruise handing back the three Globes he has personally won over the years.
The HFPA is famed for having a bizarre voting membership of 87 people; some write for credible publications, but most are a hilarious ragbag of sub-Norma-Desmond has-beens with the most reactionary worldview outside Mar-a-Lago, including freelancers, part-time writers, bit-part actors, former beauty queens and bodybuilders who have lucked into LA’s juiciest club, which pays its committee members handsomely from the TV rights income, allowing them to get luxurious junkets and to “scalp” their assigned tickets to the awards ceremony itself for tens of thousands of dollars.
It is really not a critical organisation, but the owner of what was recently a very lucrative TV franchise, developed over decades, shrewdly positioned as a curtain-raiser to the Academy Awards, fanatically protected and run by a fractious, querulous bunch of insiders. Their gravy train might have chugged on for ever, despite the open secret of the HFPA’s absurdity, had it not been for the openly outrageous junkets in which HFPA members were whisked off to the set of Netflix’s Emily in Paris and the simple fact that the HFPA had no black people in its ranks, combined with this year’s apparent indifference to some TV shows, elsewhere lauded, such as Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You.
And here is the crunch. As well as accusations of racism and sexism and greed, what has sunk the HFPA’s 87 is their pure stupidity. If they could only have swallowed their pride, and done more work on diversity like the Academy, they might have maintained their customary position just below the indignation tipping point.
Because the awful truth, not readily acknowledged by those expressing saucer-eyed outrage at the HFPA today, is that until this year its actual results, the movies and TV shows it was rewarding, were really not much different to the ones being garlanded by the Academy or the critics’ organisations. This year it gave Globes to Andra Day, Daniel Kaluuya, Chloé Zhao – and indeed the late, great Chadwick Boseman, who was passed over by the Academy.
And as for those bribes – well, there’s a famous phrase about the number of people necessary to tango. People are outraged about the HFPA voters taking the freebies from the studios, but how about the studios shovelling out the freebies? Is anyone boycotting them? No: they are the people leading the charge against the HFPA. And NBC cancelling its TV coverage isn’t that dramatic, considering the steep drop in ratings this year.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association was always a preposterous organisation; if it is slapped into some semblance of humility and common sense by these events, that will be all to the good. And perhaps it will also be a reality check for awards ceremonies generally.
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