Was a Gap Year Enough to Save the Golden Globes?

After a year off following controversy, the Golden Globes returned to live TV. Here's how it went.

Was a Gap Year Enough to Save the Golden Globes?

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For those of us without selective amnesia, the past year leading up to the Golden Globes was anything but golden. 

The mood was somber, and the torrential rain soaked the plush gray carpet — a bold deviation from the usual red. Tuesday night really set the tone for the 80th annual Golden Globes. Despite the occasional wet hem on an otherwise striking dress, there was still glitz and glamour at the event. But, after the ceremony took a year off in light of its many controversies — recall the lack of diversity among members of the HFPA, an investigation, and performative promises to do better. Since then, according to The Hollywood Reporter, the HFPA has invited 21 new members, added 103 voters, with its new membership leaning 52 percent female, and 51.5 percent “ethnically diverse.”

 Despite the small changes, many celebs like Tom Cruise opted out of attending altogether, including a heartfelt Instagram post from Zendaya who was “busy working” as well as Scarlett Johansson who spoke out against the HFPA’s sexist questions back in 2021. 

With its host, newly out Black gay comedian Jerrod Carmichael starting the show, it seemed like the HFPA was sailing into smooth waters. By Carmichael’s own admission, he explained his presence as part of the embattled awards show's attempts to do better. “And I’ll tell you why I’m here. I’m here ‘cause I’m Black,” explained Carmichael, adding, “This show, the Golden Globes, did not air last year because the Hollywood Foreign Press Association — which I won’t say they were a racist organization — but they didn’t have a single black member until George Floyd died, so do with that information what you will.” Alluding to damage control, Carmichael continued his opening monologue, revealing he had been paid $500,000 for the gig. 

Fortunately, this year's winners were a lot more inclusive than in 2021, with first-time winners taking home trophies, including Quinta Brunson, who won Best Supporting Actress in a Musical or Comedy television series for Abbott Elementary, Michelle Yeoh for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy Motion Picture for Everything Everywhere All At Once, and Ke Huy Quan for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture for the same film, marking the first time an Asian man took home that trophy since 1984. There were also repeat winners like Angela Bassett, who looked stunning in a silver halter-neck dress by Pamela Roland. Bassett also won a Golden Globe in 1994 for her outstanding performance in the Tina Turner biopic What’s Love Got To Do With It, and this year made history as the first MCU (aka Marvel Cinematic Universe) actor to win a Golden Globe for her breathtaking performance as Ramonda in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

Carmichael addressed actors' aversion to the show head on, and in a bit that may or may not have landed, he came out on stage holding three Golden Globes — alluding to the three trophies Tom Cruise returned in 2021 after news of the scandal first leaked. He also hit back at Scientology with a modest proposal to “take these three things and exchange them for the safe return of Shelly Miscavige,” who is the wife of the church's founder.

The air was also thick with tension inside the Beverly Hilton for a noticeable absence: Best Actor nominee Brendan Fraser who declined the invitation — a gesture no doubt spurred by the events recounted in his 2018 interview with GQ. The actor detailed how, in 2003, at a luncheon at The Beverly Hills Hotel, he was groped by Philip Berk, former President of the HFPA, who is, in fact, still a member of the association. “I felt ill. I felt like a little kid. I felt like there was a ball in my throat. I thought I was going to cry.” He went on to say, “Am I still frightened? Absolutely. Do I feel like I need to say something? Absolutely. Have I wanted to many, many times? Absolutely. Have I stopped myself? Absolutely.” In later emails, Berk disputed the account of the allegation, saying, “Mr. Fraser’s version is a total fabrication.” 

While the organization has made a few — albeit preliminary — changes like hiring a diverse host and finally improving the diversity makeup of the organization as a whole, much, much more needs to take place for the Golden Globes to regain its footing. As such, the future of the HFPA remains unsure. One thing is for certain, though, much like Rihanna’s fashionably late attendance at the ceremony, they have a long way to go, but late change is better than no change at all.

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