Hollywood Foreign Press Association faces controversy


Anna Rachwalski

Switching the Golden Globes from in-person to virtual presented challenges for presenters and nominees. Spotty connection and delayed reactions forced participants to rush through speeches and jokes.

Callan Cucchi

While filled with milestones from start to finish, the Golden Globes were also full of technical difficulties and controversy.  
The 78th Golden Globes took place after being postponed for nearly two months. 
“I personally don’t mind the delay,” senior Emma Uppelschoten said. “It wasn’t something I was really looking forward to. I’m sure everyone involved was understanding, considering how touch and go everything has been in the film industry recently.”
Hosts Amy Poehler and Tina Fey worked from opposite coasts, with Fey in Los Angeles and Poehler in New York City. Although the pair supported each other throughout the show, their timing was considerably off, and the lack of an audience forced them to rush through jokes.
“I think it would be extremely difficult to host an award show virtually,” junior Brady Stroppel said. “There’s close to no audience interaction, and a big part of award shows is the reactions from the audience.”
However, even virtually, the show did not go on without controversy. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), responsible for electing the award winners, had no black voting members on the board.
“I feel like not having any Black board members makes the HFPA very exclusive,” junior Brandon Buxton said. “It’s rare enough that they elect black award winners, but when they can’t share a board with Black members, it shows that they don’t really care about the opinions of Black people.”
HFPA has not had any Black members in the past 20 years, a detail that presenters and nominees could not overlook. Sterling K. Brown, Ava DuVernay, Mark Ruffalo and others spoke out against the disparity.
During the show, HFPA president Ali Sar, vice president Helen Hoehne and former president Meher Tatna addressed the issue. Tatna said the HFPA should represent all communities and the association was going to begin efforts to diversify the board.
“It’s great that the former president wants to shed light onto the issue, but since he’s not the president anymore, does he really have a say in what the association is going to do?” Buxton said. “I’m glad he wants to make the HFPA more inclusive, and I fully agree with that, but I would rather have the current president say something about the issue.”
Although nominations for Black actors and filmmakers were few and far between, winners were not. Daniel Kaluuya, Andra Day, John Boyega and the late Chadwick Boseman received awards.
Boseman won the award for “Best Actor” in a motion picture drama for his performance in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” Boseman’s wife, Simone Ledward Boseman, received the award on his behalf.
“It’s very unfortunate that he passed away, and I wish he would have been acknowledged more before he passed,” junior Zy’Keria Kinder said. “Although it was probably hard for his wife to accept the award on his behalf, he was there with her in spirit. It’s great that he did win an award, but I wish he could have had the opportunity to receive the award when he was alive, as it was an accomplishment of his life on earth.”
The Golden Globes’ limited live audience included first responders and essential workers. All audience members were tested for Covid-19 prior to attending the event and were required to wear a mask throughout the show.
“I think that having the essential worker going to the show is wonderful because they have been working really hard because of the pandemic,” sophomore Ryan Lewis said. “It recognizes them for everything they do to help others.”
With her film “Nomadland,” Chloé Zhao became the first Asian-American woman and second ever woman to win an award in the category for “Best Drama.” Three women were nominated in the category for the first time in history.
“Considering how women play such an important role in many movies and are such a large part of the film industry, it’s disappointing that [Chloé Zhao] is only the second woman to win that award,” Uppelschoten said. “Women have had to fight their way to equality for so long, and I would’ve hoped that they’d be recognized more.”
As far as television awards, “The Queen’s Gambit,” “The Crown” and “Schitt’s Creek” dominated a variety of categories, including best drama series, best comedy series, best television motion picture and multiple best actress awards. 
Netflix brought home 10 Globes this year, more than any other streaming platform. Disney was second with five awards.
The show gave directors and actors much needed recognition for their work the past year. However, these successes were overshadowed.
“Judging from how much outrage I saw on social media about the lack of diversity, I would say the show was received in a more negative way,” Uppelschoten said. “We’re at a point in society where having no Black board members should be a point for concern, and I’m surprised that the association [HFPA] hasn’t felt the need to add a more diverse range of board members.”