When the whole world became remote, everything from schools, to businesses, to doctors adapted as best as they could. The last 12 months have been one great big technological and social experiment, as regular gatherings, appointments, and events have been forced to relocate to Zoom. The recent Golden Globe Awards were no exception, but they were certainly a standout—and for all the wrong reasons.
When awards shows are broadcast live and teeming with nerves and excitement, chaos is anticipated. This year’s Globes—following the Emmys in September—was one of the first to experience the awkward addition of technical difficulties. From best supporting actor winner Daniel Kaluuya’s muted acceptance speech, to the lagging between bicoastal hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, it’s clear that a lot more planning and preparation needed to happen. At the very least, the lackluster event can serve as a “dos and don’ts” guide for the upcoming Oscars and Grammys.
Aside from accidental interruptions, weird small talk, and inevitable Zoom fatigue, a major lesson to take from the Globes is regarding diversity. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) received immense criticism for an absence of Black members and for overlooking various Black–led shows and films. Among those snubbed were Zendaya's leading role in Malcolm & Marie, LaKeith Stanfield and Dominique Fishback's outstanding performances in Judas and the Black Messiah, and Jonathan Majors and Jurnee Smollett's crucial parts in best drama series nominee Lovecraft Country.
The HFPA also completely ignored Michaela Coel's I May Destroy You. It's baffling how the comparatively shallow Emily in Paris received more recognition than this bold and insightful series dealing with sexual assault and trauma. To make matters worse, Spike Lee's Da 5 Bloods was also disregarded, but his children were selected as ambassadors to hand out the trophies.
Stars weren't shy to criticize the awards committee as well. Fey and Poehler repeatedly joked about it in their opening monologue, first commenting that the HFPA consists of “90 no–Black journalists,” and later that the HFPA really responded to Soul—a movie in which a Black man’s soul falls into the body of a cat—"because they do have five cat members.”
On a more serious note, winners like as Jane Fonda urged the higher powers to be mindful of inclusivity. And as Dan Levy accepted the award for best television comedy for Schitt’s Creek, he noted that hopefully a year from now, the ceremony will “reflect the true breadth and diversity of the film and television being made today because there is so much more to be celebrated.”
These brilliant actors are correct. With Zoom, one can expect some mishaps beyond the show's control, but certain oversights are unacceptable. Inclusion should be a given—not just realized in retrospect once people get angry. The HFPA has a year to get their act together, but even if they do, they won't be forgiven so quickly.
In addition to gathering a more racially and culturally diverse group of nominees, the HFPA and other awards show committees should anticipate more gender inclusion. A longstanding awards show tradition is to separate actors and actresses into their own categories. On the one hand, this increases the number of nominations and winners overall. However, what would they do if a nominee didn’t identify as strictly male or female?
There are dozens of well–known and up–and–coming actors who prefer using they/them pronouns. Hopefully, we'll see some of them nominated for such awards in the near future. Technological adaptations over the last year have happened out of sheer necessity, but why wait until a non–binary actor gets nominated to make Hollywood awards shows a safer and more inclusive space for everyone?
Though milestones were achieved during the Globes—with Chloé Zhao becoming the first Asian woman and second woman ever to receive the award for best director—there is still much to be done. This year’s Globes may reflect some racial inclusivity, but Hollywood is still notorious for its diversity issues. The world was so quick to reimagine life in the COVID–19 era, and now it's incumbent upon the HFPA, directors, producers, actors, and even viewers to reimagine and rebuild Hollywood. It can and should be a place to give well–deserved recognition to talents of all identities.