Golden… Gone? The declining relevance of awards shows

By Emily Chen

On Tuesday, the winners of the Golden Globes 2022 were announced across social media. Unlike last year, there was no telecast or live streaming. According to a press release from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), this was due to Omicron precautions. This statement seems out of tune with Los Angeles Times exposé, which found that the HFPA had no black members voting for the awards, and allegations of bribery. In 2021, Emily in Paris was nominated for two Golden Globes, a few months after a third of HFPA members were flown to Paris and put up in a $1,400 a night hotel by the producers. Its ‘Rotten Tomatoes’ score was 46%, and widely regarded as ‘guilty pleasure’ (not award-winning) television. Some advancement towards equality was made by giving a transgender actress a Golden Globe for the first time. Some could argue it was a haphazard attempt to correct course in light of the aforementioned article. However, it seems to have been too little, too late.  

In March 2021, over 100 public relations firms announced they would withdraw cooperation with the ceremony, Tom Cruise returned his three previously won awards, and Scarlett Johansson made allegations of HFPA member behaviour that “bordered on sexual harassment”. Looking forward, the HFPA says it will “discuss” the Reimagine coalition, set up in conjunction with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) to “increase diversity, equity, and inclusion across the global entertainment industry”.  

It is surprising that the coalition is the only real evidence of change,  despite the ‘#OscarsSoWhite’ movement happening six years ago, and ‘#Emmyssowhite’ last year. However, the fact that every award ceremony seems to have its own damning hashtag indicates that the recent Golden Globes is a microcosm of a more prevalent issue.  

Do such award ceremonies make sense at all? Beyond the controversies, the awards have historically been given to series/films/shows that do not reflect wider audience opinion. For example, of all 27 movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the franchise can only claim three Academy Awards. Surprisingly, none of those awards can be attributed to Avengers: Endgame or Avengers: Infinity War, despite them being the second and fourth (respectively) highest-grossing films of all time. With the number of tickets sold, it would seem that audiences feel that those films are their best picture.  

On balance, the Oscars and other award ceremonies like them are not reflective of wider societal opinions. This encompasses feelings towards the quality of a film, treatment of actors, and the importance of diversity. The recent Golden Globes show that people realise that the HFPA has antiquated views, and are finally refusing to condone them. Whether that will change award season practice, is for the next season of society to decide.