NBC has decided to cancel the 2022 Golden Globes (GG) following several controversies regarding their award committee, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), due to a lack of diversity amongst the members. We explore how issues surrounding diversity can stifle art production.
Following an investigation by the Los Angeles Times earlier this year, the HFPA was exposed for having zero black journalists out of 87 members. This revelation is unsurprising, but it is a jarring reminder of how non-white professionals and people are being systemically disregarded and undervalued.
Consequently, the HFPA responded by announcing a vague Reform Plan. However, this was opposed by media corporations such as Netflix, Amazon and WarnerMedia. A-Listers such as Scarlett Johansson and Tom Cruise have also joined in the protest, urging for immediate and concrete action against the lack of diversity.
Cruise has since returned his three Golden Globes. Additionally, over 100 publicists have also boycotted the GG’s, prompting NBC to cancel airing the 2022 ceremony. This has left the future of this award ceremony uncertain. But reform is important because the lack of diversity in award committees not only fuels inequality in our society, but also suppresses creativity within the film industry.
Award ceremonies boast of recognising the best, but is that always the case?
Back in 2015, April Reign created the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite as a result of all 20 acting nominations being awarded to white actors. Since then, diversity amongst winners and nominees has been heavily examined by the public and has inspired annual debate. The sentiment that films must only be judged for their quality has been central in arguing against increased diversity. Although this argument may sound fair at a surface level, it is ultimately detached from reality.
The Golden Globes have proven that award ceremonies do not judge films purely based on their quality. Their biggest blunder was in 2018, where Jordan Peele’s critically acclaimed horror masterpiece, Get Out, was bizarrely nominated for Best Motion Picture (Musical/Comedy) instead of Best Motion Picture (Drama). This mis-categorisation was a blatant snub of this film as there was no chance it could win in a category it did not apply for.
To add further fuel to the fire surrounding this year’s ceremony, Sia’s film, Music, was nominated in several categories, despite its dangerous depiction of autism and brownface. Even if viewers were able to look past the ableism, even the writing, directing and acting is woeful. So, how can such a problematic and poorly produced film receive any sort of acclaim?
The battle between diversity and creativity
Yes, art is subjective and the HFPA members could genuinely believe they are nominating and awarding high quality films. However, over this past decade, there is evidently a pattern whereby the Golden Globes prioritise mediocrity and snubbing brilliant films. Sadly, we live in a world of prejudice. Therefore, we cannot deny that members’ choices may be guided by factors such as racism, sexism and homophobia. It must be incredibly demoralising for artists to pour all of their love and effort into making a great film, only for it to go completely unrecognised due to prejudices.
Diversity broadens the perspective of award committees, allowing them to recognise all talented creators. By highlighting this talent, more people can become inspired to pursue filmmaking and put out their own ideas, thus generating a flow of creativity.
…I would never consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality. It seems to me that to do otherwise would be wrong.
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) January 14, 2020
Do award ceremonies even matter?
It is easy to dismiss the severity of this issue and think award ceremonies are completely unworthy of our attention. After all, despite Get Out being snubbed in the 2018 ceremony, it has a much larger cultural impact than the winner, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing. Get Out continues to have outpours of praise for its ingenuity and deeply layered portrayal of racism. It has not left the general public’s conscience since its release.
However, it would be incredibly naïve to completely write off the significance of awards within the film industry.
Award ceremonies are integral for winners and nominees to succeed at the box office. This is difficult for many to achieve due to the dominance of blockbuster superhero franchises. Additionally, awards can help films gain lucrative distribution on streaming services because of the increased publicity and exposure. Award ceremonies are financial commodities for filmmakers, it helps them secure budgets for their upcoming projects easily. Therefore, awards are integral to build the status of filmmakers in a highly competitive industry.
Whilst award nominations and winning may not matter to us as viewers, it has many benefits for the creators. As a result of this, we should encourage creators, regardless of their background, to pursue their filmmaking dreams. We must also continue advocating for diversity in award committees.
Everyone deserves a chance for their art to be noticed and appraised.