The Golden Globes say representation is vital – why has it taken them so long to realise that?

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association – the body behind the awards – addressed the recent diversity scandal during the ceremony

Days before the Golden Globes 2021 took place, a shocking report was published. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association – the governing body behind the annual Hollywood bash – had no Black members among its 87-person collective. Stars began to call out the organisation, demanding change, and the HFPA promised to address the issue during the ceremony.

So it was that HFPA President Ali Sar, Vice President Helen Hoehne and former President Meher Tatna stood on stage at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles, talking about the need for more representation and diversity. “We recognise we have our own work to do,” Hoehne admitted. “Just like in film and television, Black representation is vital. We must have Black journalists in our organisation.”

“We must also ensure everyone from all underrepresented communities gets a seat at our table, and we are going to make that happen,” Tatna added. Sar concluded the brief pause in festivities by noting the need to create “an environment where a diverse membership is the norm, not the exception” and said he looked “forward to a more inclusive future”.

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There is, of course, nothing inherently wrong with the HFPA and its members saying those things – they’re what we need to happen for awards shows to reflect the full spectrum of story-telling and voices in our creative industries. The question is, though, how has it taken the committee so long to realise this? And how exactly do they plan to make things right, beyond making incredibly obvious statements?

It is astonishing that any organisation running an awards ceremony in the 21st century could have sat around until now without reckoning with the tunnel vision that comes from having a very monotonous membership. The Oscars have been taken to task for a lack of diversity, as have the BAFTAs and, in music, the Grammys. What were the HFPA doing while each of those ceremonies was confronted with their failings?

It’s not like the Golden Globes has been a perfect bastion of diversity up until this year either. Last year, the show was criticised for a lack of non-white winners, while in 2019 the nominations snubbed some worthy contenders, including When They See Us and Watchmen. Bringing about non-tokenistic, meaningful change takes time, but the HFPA has had long enough to fix their issue. Only promising to sort it out now, when the industry is on their backs and an exposé has made allegations of bias and corruption, could be seen by the cynical among us as them trying to save face rather than really caring.

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Last year, the conversation around race and diversity dominated headlines, social media and – supposedly – our private interactions too. It’s not enough to just talk the talk though – we have to turn that into action or nothing will ever change. That’s a lesson the HFPA needs to learn, and fast, before the #GlobesSoWhite hashtag becomes a sour piece of Golden Globes tradition.

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