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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Thursday, April 18, 2024

WEEKENDER: The 2023 Golden Globes were a glossy masquerade

Signs for the Golden Globe Awards are pictured.

The Golden Globes have always been a bit of a peculiar entity. The categories seem nonsensical: What defines a drama, as opposed to a musical or comedy? Plus, with a virtually unrecognizable voting body (anyone ever heard of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association?), the awards given at the Globes were almost laughable. But as the only major awards show to serve alcoholic drinks tableside, the Globes were always a fun game of chance celebrity encounters and drunken speeches.

That is, until 2021. After a Los Angeles Timesinvestigative piece revealed that there were a whopping zero Black voters in the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, public opinion turned on the Golden Globes. Coupled with testimony from the likes of Scarlett Johansson revealing the horribly sexist lines of questioning that HFPA members have put actresses through in their campaigning, it seemed like the downfall of the Golden Globes was imminent. Hell, Tom Cruise even sent back his three Golden Globes. After a public reckoning with the problematic antics of the HFPA, the 2022 Golden Globes were taken off the air.

And then, come 2023, poof! All is forgotten. On a one-year test stint with NBC, the Golden Globes were allowed a chance to relight the fire. Minus some biting remarks from host Jerrod Carmichael, the glitz and glamor of the Globes came right back into place. From Michelle Yeoh stating that she could “beat up” a piano player to a drunken Mike White acceptance speech,what’s not to love? With their couture gowns and brazen self-indulgence, celebrity culture reunited with the eccentric ceremony.

To some extent, a new and replenished Globes is for the better. After the 2021 accusations, the HFPA made significant structural changes to their organizations. The voting body added 103 new international members, outweighing the 96 active members before the change. Where Black voters once had no representation, they now make up 10.1% of the voting body. The changing voter profile also made for a more logical spread of awardees. Where the Golden Globes were once known for its random, ill-fated choices, winners this year were much more in line with what experts predict for other major ceremonies like the Oscars.

Adding new members is a perfect band-aid to their 2021 controversy. But the HFPA’s problems are bigger than just their voter makeup. The Golden Globes are, on their face, a fraudulent awards show. Who is the Foreign Press? It seems that no one knows. One has to guess how they spend their time, except for luxuriating in their five-star hotel rooms purchased by the “Emily in Paris” (2020–) team. Funnily enough, “Emily in Paris” scored itself two nominations that year. Plus, with their penchant for giving much-needed gigs to Hollywood nepo babies, it seems that the Golden Globes are a grab-bag of moneyed Hollywood politics.

This year’s Globes weren’t perfect either. Underneath the flowing drinks and Chanel gowns was a darker underbelly, ever-present in its horror. While most of the nominees showed up for the red carpet and ceremony, many nominees were notably absent. Such a shame that Amanda Seyfried was busy “creating a new musical” and Zendaya was … well, working. Not suspicious at all.

There was also a notable, Brendan Fraser-sized hole in the room. Back in 2018, Fraser accused Philip Berk, former head of the HFPA, of groping him. Being the head of a major voting body, Fraser said that the incident made him retreat from much of the industry. The Globes, however, did not have much of a response. Noting that the touching was intended as a joke and not as a sexual advance, the HFPA decided to keep Berk as their leading face. It wasn’t until 2021, following the Globes’ public controversy, when Berk was removed from the organization. Now a major contender for his work in “The Whale” (2022), Fraser emphatically protested the ceremony. And, unsurprisingly, the Globes responded by refusing to reward his performance.

Awards shows frequently employ a sort of “spotlight seat,” gaming out who will sit towards the front of the theater. The event planners will place one of their biggest stars in this seat, for others to gaze upon with awe. This has led to some fantastic conclusions: Who can forget Olivia Colman’s impassioned Oscar speech in which she catches a glimpse of Lady Gaga, seated right up by the stage? The spotlight seat represents all that an awards show intends to be; it’s star power at its finest.

For the 2023 Golden Globes, that spotlight seat was given to none other than Brad Pitt. Of course, Pitt is a massive name within the industry and holds significant name value. But, as a face for the Globes at large, the seating seems a bit problematic. The choice comes just months after court papers revealed former wife Angelina Jolie’s abuse allegations against Pitt. These allegations include claims of physical abuse against both Jolie and their children. As the general public faces a cultural reckoning with Pitt’s celebrity status, it seems that Hollywood is fine to go on just as planned. You couldn’t help but stare at Pitt in that seat, with Quinta Brunson stopping her acceptance speech to comment a simple, “Hi Brad Pitt.” Where the Globes were concerned, Pitt was the peak of Hollywood nobility, untouchable in his character.

The Brad Pitt dilemma perfectly represents the issue of this year’s Globes. With their eye-catching gowns and pre-written acceptance speeches, celebrities wanted a normal awards show. They wanted to be celebrated. Because of this deep-seated desire, Hollywood donned their masks, and pretended that everything was okay. They simply glossed over the horrifying truth, that the Globes are a conflict-ridden, ridiculously founded and unethically produced joke. But, if one puts on a smile and keeps their head out of the news, they can pretend all is well.