Here’s a quick recap of what’s been happening with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the organisation that oversees the Golden Globes, one of the most high profile and popular award shows of the season. The HFPA is a group of between 80-90 journalists from around the world who have the reputation of being starf-ckers. They vote on the Golden Globes. Time and again, when the nominations are announced, BIPOC artists are ignored, and acclaimed Black art and artists, in particular, are left out. The same sh-t happened again this year. Leading up the Globes then, the LA Times released a report on the HFPA, revealing that they have no Black membership. Major celebrities spoke out against them, and all of this overshadowed the actual show, which was a lazy, embarrassing broadcast anyway. In the aftermath, the HFPA was criticised by Time’s Up, many other Hollywood industry agencies, and 100 publicists, who promised that they pull back on their celebrity clients attending the Globes in the future should the HFPA resist change. You know that got their attention. Seems like their entire existence is based on accessing face time with famous people.
This weekend, another scandal. The LA Times was tipped off about an email that HFPA member and past president Philip Berk sent to membership, calling Black Lives Matter a “racist hate movement”. The HFPA has since expelled him but if they were trying to point to his example as an isolated incident and not an issue with the entire organisation, it’s not working.
The Hollywood Reporter dropped an exclusive yesterday about both Judy Smith, the real life Olivia Pope, who was hired in a crisis management capacity last month by the HFPA, and Dr Shaun Harper, the diversity and inclusion advisor brought on recently, have both ended their relationships with the organisation. According to THR, Judy Smith was “increasingly frustrated by the organization's refusal to listen to other advice and commit to concrete actions, ultimately concluding that its problems are so deep-rooted that it is a lost cause, which led her to quit Tuesday”.
THR also published parts of Dr Harper’s resignation letter. After having some of his recommendations challenged by people like Ava DuVernay and Shonda Rhimes, he wrote that:
"Having now learned more about the Association's deep systemic and reputational challenges, I no longer have confidence in our ability to collaboratively deliver the transformational change that the industry and the people in it whom I deeply respect are demanding of you. My serious, unwavering commitment to the racial and gender equity issues on which I work every day make it impossible for me to continue serving in a consulting capacity with the HFPA."
That is not a good look. They were already in some deep sh-t even before Philip Berk’s email and they promised to do better. So now you have experts coming in to guide you, and you clearly need the help, but you’re pushing back on their recommendations? The message this sends is that there are limits to the changes they’re willing to make. And if the HFPA, with their racist former president sending out racist emails just three days ago, and their exclusion of racialised artists, is dictating what kind of change they will and won’t accept, it doesn’t seem like their commitment to inclusion is as much of a priority as they claim it is.
The Globes 2022 are still 9 months away so, sure, there’s time. But not that much time. And powerful members of the Hollywood community seem resolved to boycott putting the future of the Golden Globes in jeopardy, not an understatement. And for the celebrities, who the HFPA cares about the most, will it be that much of a loss?