The Golden Globes happened last night. There were winners, losers and complainers. The Globes are often thought of as the less serious little brother of the Oscars, and sometimes they’re thought of as a forerunner to the Oscars. Whoever wins the Globes gets a neat little boost for the Oscars.
Firstly, that thinking is wrong. The Social Network proved that last year. It swept the Globes but got ousted at the Oscars. Secondly, people seem to have an idea about who the Academy is. It’s Hollywood.
But who are the Hollywood Foreign Press Association? Sounds fancy, right? They put on this nice gala with celebrities every year, so they must be a large organization made up on International film journalists, right? Wrong.
So what does the HFPA do? By their own website, they have about 90 members and “disseminate information about movies and television to the world through their various publications throughout the world.” They also attend “more than 300 interviews and countless movie and television screenings throughout each year.” Oh, and they do charity work.
These 90 members sure do sound like film critics and journalists, right? It’s quite misleading, it’s all right. Their members are actually not major film critics or reporters. They’re not film experts, really. And they’re not a part of Hollywood. According to the LA Times, their members do not represent major International publications like the Guardian, Le Monde or Haaretz.
Their members are people like Gabrielle Donnelly, who seems to be an author of some sort. People like Margaret Gardiner, who is either a dead woman or South Africa’s Miss Universe from 1978. In fact, googling the vast majority of the members of the HFPA does not give you their articles or reviews on film. No, it gives you nothing. Google Lorenzo Soria, see any film articles or some sort of news publication? Now Google Scott Weinberg, Richard Roeper, Christy Lemire, Roger Ebert, Richard Corliss. Those are film critics.
Of course, the HFPA didn’t start this way. It was founded by a Daily Mail correspondent. But it certainly has become this way, and that’s why it’s a sham.
As the LA Times points out, it’s a group made up of a handful of full-time journalist, with the remaining members as part time freelancers who work for obscure publications. Joining their ranks is nearly impossible as well. Foreign journalist who are qualified to critique film can’t get in, and they wouldn’t apply even if they could. They only add 5 members a year, at most, as well. Their group sits around 90 members, while the Academy boasts over 6,000. Oh, and to maintain membership status you only need to pump out a whopping 4 articles a year. FOUR!
So why do you pay attention to the Golden Globes? Why does NBC pimp it so much? You watch it because it’s fun. Ricky Gervais! Controversy! Celebrities! Beautiful dresses! The two most searched things the Monday after the Globes are best dressed lists and the results. YouTube is probably caught up in highlights from the show as well. It’s a talking point. A conversation. Last night, 16.8 million people watched the Golden Globes. In 2008, NBC nabbed $27 million in advertising. The HFPA received $6 million, a good chunk of which went to charity. That’s why NBC keeps pimping it.
Let people have their fun, you might be thinking. It’s like the People’s Choice Awards! I would be fine with that, if the Globes didn’t take themselves as the baby Oscars. They’re not even close. Oscar votes are at least a little sincere.
In 1981, producer Meshulam Rikis flew members of the HFPA to Las Vegas for a couple days of fun. A couple weeks later they voted his wife, Pia Zadora, new female star of the year. She wasn’t even a new female star. In the 1990s, the Globes were the subject of a lot of criticism. NBC said they would require the HFPA to expand its group and to sign disclosures saying they didn’t receive gifts from producers or what not before voting. The only change that actually happened was NBC referring to the Globes as a party, rather than an award show. Even though the Globes are used as an awards show. Ever see a commercial for a film advertising Golden Globes Nominee?
The Globes haven’t outrun it’s problems with time either. Remember last year? The Tourist was nominated for Best Picture – Comedy or Musical and the two leads happen to be Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie. Both Jolie and Depp were nominated for Best Actor/Actress in a Comedy or Musical. There were even rumors Sony had bribed HFPA members to get those nominations. In case you didn’t know, The Tourist has a 20% at RottenTomatoes, which is a collective average of the reviews of film critics.
It’s long been said the HFPA’s goal is to kiss ass to celebrities like George Clooney, Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie. After all, what’s better than throwing a “party” awards show, get rewarded in fancy trips and money and rubbing elbows with the stars every year?