Opinion: The Legitmacy of Awards in Hollywood #2 (Golden Globes)

As I have disucssed in my previous article in this series, the Golden Globes are arguably the most controversial awards in Hollywood specifcally for their biased nature and focus upon viewership and mainstream appeal over legitmacy.

The Golden Globes are presented and awarded by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a group of 93 people who collectively decide on the best in film as well as TV, and while the ceremony continues to gain increased respect, it has not been without criticsm.

Unlike the Academy Awards, which is the Globes closest counterpart, the Golden Globes is not run by a collective group of actual entertainers by rather by HPFA which is made up of journalists and entertainment analysts. Therefore, there is a clear distinction from the Academy Awards which is voted upon by a nominees peers, people directly from the business and whom understand the technical appreciation of the art. While it would be wrong to automativally assume the HPFA have no understanding of film and TV, much of the criticsm against the awards comes from the questioining of the HPFA’s ability to properly choose winners based on performance rather than marketability and public persona. This is only further highlighted by their limited pool of voters, again in contrast to the hundreds of Academy voters, meaning their legitmacy and representation of the ‘best’ in Hollywood is as resticted by their low overall representation of ‘entertainers’ as it is restricted by a focus on mainstream appeal.

Over the years, the Golden Globes have faced a number of key issues, all derived from that same central problem, that the Globes are managed by an agenda rather than by awarding the geunine best. Most famously comes the point that the Globes have never been incredibly successful in the ratings. While the award ceremony normally brings around 18 million viewers, the January 2015 event brought in 19.3 million, this pales to the respected Academy Awards, which is understandable. However this has placed pressure on the show to increase ratings which has time and time again led to interesting and often controversial decisions. Ultimately the winner of the awards are similar to predicted norms and eventual winner of the Academy Award, however it should be noted that the nominees are often very diverse. The various range of nominees comes down to one point, that the Globes want to increase viewership by having big name nominees, who will most likely turn up at the event.

To highlight such a corrolation, it is interesting to highlight the 2015 awards in comparison to the 2014 ceremony. The 2015 event brought in 19.3 million viewers, a dip against the 2014 event which garnered 20.9 million. While the 2015 recognised Best nominees such as Selma, Boyhood, and Birdman, none other than Into The Woods and The Grand Budapest Hotel can be seen as comercially friendly films, and even that would be pushing it. Similarly the race for Best Actor and Actress was fought by performers from overall underwhelming films, again the only exception possibly being Rosamund Pike from Gone Girl, and while the nominees included some ‘big’ names (see Jennifer Aniston, Benedict Cumberbatch, Meryl Streep and Emma Stone), there were no nominees from mainstream films, similar to the Academy Awards.  Looking at TV, the nominees did interestingly contain some fan favourites (other than the normal such as Game Of Thrones) including Jane The Virgin, The Affair, and The Good Wife, and while this did flow over to the acting nominations, we should remeber that the TV side of the Golden Globes is hugely overlooked and overshadowed by the films, as the event takes place right in the middle of the Film Award Season. So to highlight the 2015 ceremony as being one for mainstream films and TV would be partially wrong. Lets compare to the 2014 ceremony which saw the discussed increased viewership. Amongst the ‘best picture’ nominees (lets remember that the Globes split their catergories into drama and musical/comedy, but more on that soon’, we find films such as Gravity, Captain Phillips, American Hustle, The Wolf of Wall Street, films that did exceedingly well at the Box Office and ultimately in DVD sales. Furthermore fan favourite actors such as Matthew McConaughey, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep and Bradely Cooper were nominated, majorally for mainstream films. It is already becoming clear that there is a clear link between viewership and a larger number of nominees of mainstream appeal. Again the TV division celebrated shows of great fandom, including Breaking Bad, Game Of Thrones, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Parks and Recreation. This form of pattern can be found throughout the history of the Globes and proves that they certainly understand the power of having big names and appealing films recognised at their event.

So deciding upon the events legitmacy seems to be an interesting discussion. The Golden Globes continued attempts at being relevant often overshadow the quality of the winners, and the 2016 ceremony will be no different. It will be interesting to see the eventual ratings, especially considering the number of mainstream films and TV shows being nominated, including Mad Max: Fury Road, Spy,  Train Wreck, Outlander and Empire. Will the Golden Globes rise to high ratings, or will their  quality by in question? Either way, the ability for these awards to shine light upon newer, and maybe worthy films and shows, is commendable, as long as it doesn’t take the place of films and TV that is at peak perfection.