The 78th Golden Globe Awards will be remembered as the most socially distanced and the most disheartening due to the controversy surrounding the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Before the Golden Globes aired, The LA Times released an article on the HFPA that emphasized that out of nearly 90 international journalists on the committee, there is not a single Black journalist within their ranks.
Even so, the revelation doesn’t have the shock value that one would expect. As of late, award shows have been repeatedly called out for their exclusionary practices and lack of diversity in their committees and nominations. Notably, it has birthed viral hashtags such as #OscarssoWhite. The struggle for diversity and inclusion has been an exhausting ongoing struggle, and it seems that the entertainment industry is behind exponentially.
Let’s delve a little into the importance of diversity in this industry, in particular, the need for Black men and women in these circles. What first needs to be made clear is that bringing in people of different backgrounds and walks of life into settings such as committees and boards in entertainment allows for diversity in perspective and ideas. A Black journalist in such an organization would recognize that The Green Book isn’t the best pick for nominations because there are African Americans who wouldn’t sit well with a watered-down story that downplays the Jim Crow era.
A Black journalist in the HFPA could also highlight nominations that would not make it into an award show. We know this to be true since award shows are notorious for snubbing even the most popular and resonating films and TV shows. And then maybe The Golden Globes wouldn’t have left films like Da 5 Bloods and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom out for Best Picture this year. In short, representation matters.
Diversity within award organizations like The Golden Globes opens doors
As expected, the lack of Black journalists in the HFPA isn’t the only sign that the Golden Globes is still not up with times. More than often, exclusionary practices generate even more exclusion and racism than anything else. Not only are there no Black journalists on the HFPA, but it has also been nearly two decades and counting since the last Black journalist held a membership.
And while it was a huge win to have Andra Day snag the award for Best Actress for The United States vs. Billie Holiday, she was the first Black woman to win the award in 35 years. Additionally, Chloe Zhao’s best director win for Nomadland made her the first Asian woman to receive the honor and only the second woman ever to receive the award. The stats speak for themselves.
The HPFA responded to all of this by issuing statements that apologize for the lack of diversity and promises that they will do better. Vice president Helen Hoehne stated:
“We recognize we have our own work to do. Just like in film and television, Black representation is vital. We must have Black journalists in our organization.”
While the former HFPA president stated:
We must also ensure everyone from all underrepresented communities gets a seat at our table.
The problem with these blanketed statements, besides being redundant, is that it shouldn’t take an embarrassing public revelation for an organization to take action. Black journalists should have been included from the start, considering the number of Black films and TV shows that are bringing in so much money in this industry. Diversification shouldn’t always be a matter of correcting the situation after you’ve been caught not doing anything about it.
Ava DuVernay said it best. In a note posted to Twitter, DuVernay highlighted the real issue with exclusion within these award ceremonies and brought to light what most people don’t realize.
Black creatives are held to higher expectations than any other group in the entertainment industry. And in the end, the success of their livelihood depends on how well they do and in particular how well they do during award season.
If we are to break the vicious cycle that excludes and limits marginalized groups in entertainment, we must diversify all areas. This includes the committees and organizations that make the decisions that will invite more Black creatives to the table. The future of the projects that we are in dire need of seeing in the entertainment industry depends on it.
What are your thoughts on diversity in the award organizations? Let us know in the comments below.
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