Accusations of corruption and white-washing have long plagued awards shows like the Golden Globes – turns out, they might be right.
When the nominations for the 78th Annual Golden Globes were released in early February, social media went into meltdown over some of the questionable choices.
But a new exploration into exactly who is behind the Hollywood Foreign Press Association might shed some light on why this year’s nominations were ‘qwhite’ so underwhelming.
The HFPA is made up of 87 journalists representing countries all over the world.
But the term ‘journalist’ is used loosely in some instances.
The Los Angeles Times reports current members include a Russian bodybuilder-turned-actor, a former pageant queen from South Africa and an extravagant Polish socialite.
Though there are some members of colour within the cohort, none of them are black.
That might explain why a number of black-led films, like Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods, Judas and the Black Messiah and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom weren’t considered for the top film award, despite all receiving Oscar buzz.
An anti-trust lawsuit filed in 2020 against the HFPA by a Norwegian journalist who was barred from joining alleged that one current member is in their 90s and is deaf and legally blind.
Kjersti Flaa’s lawsuit was dismissed but she has since refiled, calling out the “culture of corruption” by improperly subsidising its members’ income.
Ms Flaa has also claimed that members secretly receive “thousands of dollars in emoluments” from the studios, stars and networks they have been tasked to judge.
More than 30 HFPA members flew to France in 2019 to visit the set of Emily In Paris, which happens to be the unlikely recipient of two nominations this year.
Paramount Network reportedly put the group up for a two-night stay at the pricey five-star Peninsula Paris hotel (where rooms start at more than $1500), a private museum tour with 250-year-old amusement rides and lunch at the Musée des Arts Forains.
To the shock of critics, ‘Emily in Paris’ receives two Golden Globe Nominations. Now we find out the producers had flown one third of the GG voting members to the Paris set, paying for five-star hotel suites for them. The Golden Globes are corrupt, and payola is illegal. pic.twitter.com/Ng4PJnv4Km
— Mike Sington (@MikeSington) February 22, 2021
One attendee claimed Paramount “treated us like kings and queens”.
Between the critically panned Emily in Paris, James Corden’s offensive “gayface” in queer musical The Prom, and the dumpster fire that was Sia’s disability film, Music, fans were wondering what was going on behind the closed doors of the HFPA.
Adding fuel to the fire was the fact that some of this season’s most highly acclaimed performances, like Sandra Oh’s standout portrayal of Eve Polastri in Killing Eve, Yuh-Jung Youn in Minari, or Sophie Okonedo in Ratched, failed to receive nods.
Michaela Coel’s gritty drama I May Destroy You was also expected to clean up come awards season, but was snubbed entirely.
90 nobodies and a lot of cash
Between 2019 and 2020, HFPA members brought in nearly $US2 million ($2.5 million), which is more than double the figures from three years prior, reports The Los Angeles Times.
If that wasn’t enough, other members have been accused of scalping their tickets to the ceremony itself for $10,000 plus a $2000 after-party ticket.
One member from Bangladesh, Munawar Hosain, was the subject of an internal investigation when he allegedly sold his ticket for $39,000.
Though a Golden Globes nomination or win is instrumental in predicting the year’s Oscar picks, celebrities in the industry have long dismissed them as “a meaningless event”.
Gary Oldman panned the awards in a Playboy interview in 2014, urging fans to “boycott the f—ing thing”.
“They’re f—ing ridiculous … It’s 90 nobodies having a wank,” Oldman said.
“Everybody’s getting drunk, and everybody’s sucking up to everybody.”
Later on, Oldman cried on stage when he won best actor in a motion picture drama for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour.
In his 2016 monologue, comedian Ricky Gervais said the awards were “a bit of metal that some nice old confused journalists wanted to give you in person so they could meet you and have a selfie with you”.