Why the HFPA Must Clean Up Its Act After This Year’s Golden Globes

I think it’s safe to assume that the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. is not exactly overflowing with excitement over its Golden Globes extravaganza this coming weekend. Rather, the group is scrambling to play damage control in response to a scathing exposé by the Los Angeles Times published this week.

Throughout the decades, the scandal-ridden HFPA has been sued and widely criticized for its questionable ethics and the bona fides of its journalist members, who are known to accept extravagant trips and gifts from those hoping to sway their voting. As the Times’ deeply reported piece points out, the HFPA has been “struggling to shake its reputation as a group whose awards or nominations can be influenced with expensive junkets and publicity swag.”

But as much as the association has reportedly tried in recent years to gain more respect and “rehabilitate its public image,” it is accused of engaging in unseemly practices such as self-dealing. According to the Times, the nonprofit organization pays its voting members to serve on special committees and awarded board officers and directors between $22,915 and $135,957 in the tax year ending June 30, 2019. (HFPA defends its compensation practices, insisting the payments are vetted by outside counsel and compare to other nonprofits.)

One of the most damning aspects of the Times story is the “revelation” that the association does not count one Black person among its membership of 87 international journalists who vote on the Golden Globe Awards. I put “revelation” between quote marks because in response to that claim, an incredulous Ava DuVernay tweeted: “Reveals? As in, people are acting like this isn’t already widely known? For YEARS?” Regina King responded to DuVernay by tweeting a meme of Drake looking directly at the camera with a big grin.

Despite the HFPA’s ongoing transgressions, the Globes remain a vitally important cog in Hollywood’s awards race and are considered a bellwether of the Oscars.

I only hope that as millions of us tune in to watch Sunday’s show, the organization responsible for handing out the honors is busy planning to make all of the substantial changes needed to actually clean up its act — as it has vowed to do for far too many years.

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