With less than a week from the broadcast ceremony of the 78th Golden Globes, the organization that hosts the awards is in hot water.
According to a recent LA Times report published on Sunday, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) has no Black members. There are members of color, but the LA Times notes the HFPA is aware of this slight and is something the nonprofit organization of entertainment journalists and photographers is “committed to addressing.”
Of course, there had already been conversation about the HFPA’s propensity to be out of touch, particularly with its complete snubbing of Michaela Coel’s acclaimed series I May Destroy You in this year’s nominations. Further, none of the Black-led films within the conversation (such as Da 5 Bloods, Judas and the Black Messiah, One Night In Miami and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) were among the noms in the Best Picture category.
“We do not control the individual votes of our members,” an HFPA representative told LA Times in a statement, referencing the reaction to that snub and others. “We seek to build cultural understanding through film and TV and recognize how the power of creative storytelling can educate people around the world to issues of race, representation, and orientation.”
Nevertheless, if you’re an established Black creative in this industry who has been in the elite rooms and witnessed how things go down firsthand, this isn’t a surprise whatsoever. Case in point, Ava DuVernay’s and Regina King’s comments on Twitter:
“Reveals? As in, people are acting like this isn’t already widely known? For YEARS?” DuVernay wrote, to which King responded with a supportive Drake gif.
This discriminatory statistic is enough, but that’s not all—another LA Times report came out the same day regarding a suit filed three months ago by an entertainment journalist who alleged self-dealing within the HFPA and other unethical practices, such as blocking qualified journalists from applying for membership.
In her suit, Kjersti Flaa accused the HFPA of institutionalizing a “culture of corruption,” claiming the tax-exempt organization operated as a kind of cartel, barring qualified applicants—including herself—and monopolizing all-important press access while improperly subsidizing its members’ income. The group, Flaa asserted, was rife with ethical conflicts, with members accepting “thousands of dollars in emoluments” from the very same studios, networks and celebrities they conferred trophies upon, all of it hidden behind a “code of silence.”
The case was dismissed by a judge, as it was determined that Flaa didn’t suffer any economic or professional hardship as a result of not being accepted into HFPA. Following the dismissal, HFPA attorney Marvin Putnam of Latham & Watkins, who had denied Flaa’s claims, made a comment stating the suit was simply “a transparent attempt to shake down the HFPA based on jealousy, not merit.”
And yet, the very existence of the suit seemed to resonate with current members. “The dismissal was disappointing,” said one current HFPA member, who chose to remain anonymous out of fear of internal retaliation. “I thought it would shake things up…We are an archaic organization. I still think the HFPA needs outside pressure to change.”
“None of these allegations has ever been proven in court or in any investigation, [and they] simply repeat old tropes about the HFPA and reflect unconscious bias against the HFPA’s diverse membership,” an HFPA representative said in a statement to the LA Times, regarding Flaa’s allegations.
The 78th Golden Globe Awards will air live on Feb. 28 at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. ET on NBC.