Lack of Black members in HFPA raises questions about ethics of Golden Globe voters

WION Web Team
New Delhi Published: Feb 22, 2021, 05.46 PM(IST)

More than 30 female actresses who are attending and or presenting at the 2018 Golden Globes have vowed to wear all black to this year`s ceremony. Photograph:( Others )

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This year’s Golden Globe nominations were slammed for omitting from its two best picture categories films featuring primarily Black casts, such as 'Da 5 Bloods', 'Judas and the Black Messiah', 'Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom', and 'The United States vs. Billie Holiday', and not nominating the critically acclaimed TV series I May Destroy You, which features a Black cast, in any categories.

A week before the 78th annual Golden Globe Awards, the organization behind the ceremony is facing a scathing exposé regarding the functioning and ethics of the organisation. 

According to LA Times, there are zero Black journalists among the 87 members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and the organization, whose ethics have long been questioned, dating back to an FCC investigation that led to a broadcast ban from 1968-74 and the Pia Zadora scandal of 1982, is continuing to allow its members to behave in ways that call into question their ethics and integrity.

The HFPA is not only allowing its members to receive lavish perks from the studios and networks whose projects they later write about and vote on, such as a junket in France that might help explain recent Golden Globe nominations for the critically maligned TV series Emily in Paris, among other head-scratchers. But the organization, which is a nonprofit, is also paying its own members, substantial amounts of money to serve as officers and on various committees.

Norwegian journalist Kjersti Flaa filed an antitrust lawsuit against the HFPA last year alleging that the organization was depriving her of potential income by barring her and other qualified journalists from becoming members in order to protect the sale value of current members’ reportage in various international territories. 

Golden Globes 2021: Full nominations list

LA Times report also quoted current HFPA members who accuse the group of arbitrarily rejecting “well-credentialed foreign journalists” who apply for membership in favor of people who “aren’t serious journalists.” One member who was granted anonymity said, “We admit people that are not real journalists because they are not a threat to anyone.”

An HFPA spokesperson told the LA Times that Flaa’s claims are “entirely false,” but said the organization is “committed to addressing” its lack of diversity.

This year’s Golden Globe nominations were slammed for omitting from its two best picture categories films featuring primarily Black casts, such as 'Da 5 Bloods', 'Judas and the Black Messiah', 'Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom', and 'The United States vs. Billie Holiday', and not nominating the critically acclaimed TV series I May Destroy You, which features a Black cast, in any categories.

'Da 5 Bloods', Bridgerton': Golden Globe 2021 snubs find mention in SAG Award nomination list

Many observers also were confounded by the multiple major nominations for Sia’s Music which garnered major controversy and backlash from the Autistic community and the aforementioned TV series 'Emily in Paris'.  LA Times reports that Paramount Television flew more than 30 HFPA members to France in 2019 to visit the set of the Emily in Paris. There, they were treated to “a two-night stay at the five-star Peninsula Paris hotel, where rooms currently start at about $1,400 a night, and a news conference and lunch at the Musée des Arts Forains, a private museum filled with amusement rides dating to 1850 where the show was shooting,”

While one HFPA member told the Times that the backlash to the nominations was warranted, the HFPA rep told the Times that “we do not control the individual votes of our members. … We seek to build cultural understanding through film and TV and recognize how the power of creative storytelling can educate people around the world to issues of race, representation and orientation.”

The report further alleged that HFPA members were among the beneficiaries of a $125,000 emergency relief fund for journalists impacted by the pandemic that the organization had set up with the Los Angeles Press Club. A source close to the HFPA told The Hollywood Reporter that the organization “did not place conditions on who the LAPC awarded grants to other than the condition that the money goes to journalists in need in accordance with the LAPC’s charitable mission. Like all donors to reputable charitable organizations, we expect the LAPC used those funds in furtherance of their laudable charitable activities.”

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