It's no secret that Hollywood, and the bodies and organisations at its core, have long been known for their lack of diversity. While this has previously been swept under the rug; over the last few years we have seen a significant shift towards actors, celebrities and the public making their concerns and frustrations extremely clear. The controversy surrounding the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) has been relentless, and with due cause. The organisation behind the Golden Globes, the HFPA has been called out for its lack of representation within its board – specifically, that it features no black members – and after too many long years of just getting away with it, the HFPA is finally meeting its maker. Ironically, beginning with a white, cis man, in the form of Tom Cruise has announced that he is returning his three Golden Globes.
This might seem like a scene out of the type of satirical film you would never actually see nominated at the Golden Globes, but it is in fact real life. The organisation was hit with two devastating blows; Cruise's clear disassociation with the award show, and the news that the decades-long broadcaster, NBC, had made the decision to not air the proceedings in 2022. Speaking in a statement, the NBC shared; “We continue to believe that the HFPA is committed to meaningful reform... However, change of this magnitude takes time and work, and we feel strongly that the HFPA needs time to do it right." The network also shared that its partnership with the HFPA and Golden Globes could resume in the years that follow; permitting that the organisation demonstrates and executes its plan.
The news comes just a week after the announcement that a plan had been approved by the HFPA to recruit more black members and make other changes over the next year. By other changes, we assume the organisation is referring to the investigation by the Los Angeles Times; which not only confirmed the board's lack of diversity, but also raised long-standing ethical questions over the close relationships between the HFPA and movie studios. Namely, whether these relationships have, and continue to potentially influence the selection of Golden Globes winners and nominees. But understandably, the HFPA's attempt at change feels less than inadequate. Diversity, inclusion and belonging leader, Prasanna Ranganathan, says it best in his Twitter thread below.
THREAD. Grateful for the tireless work of @TIMESUPNOW, @ava, @shondarhimes, @MarkRuffalo, @netflix and so many others who are demanding change from the HFPA and the #GoldenGlobes. #ChangeIsGolden https://t.co/thRUU1diU5
— Prasanna Ranganathan (@PRanganathan) May 8, 2021
To put into perspective just how deeply these concerns are being felt, in March of this year, more than 100 public relations firms sent a letter to the HFPA, announcing that they had formally withdrawn all of their celebrity clients until the body made “profound and lasting change”. Major film studios such as WarnerMedia, Netflix, Amazon and HBO also made statements to inform that they were also cutting ties until reform was implemented and actioned.
Cruise, unsurprisingly, is not the only actor to take a stand. On May 8, Scarlett Johansson spoke to Variety about sexist comments directed at her from the organisation, sharing; "In the past, this has often meant facing sexist questions and remarks by certain HFPA members that bordered on sexual harassment. It is the exact reason why I, for many years, refused to participate in their conferences."
The HFPA has yet to comment on the changes and announcements.