Boring. Insensitive. Racist. Dangerous. Most of these are adjectives people would not readily associate with Hollywood’s award season. However, 2020 and 2021 brought some uncomfortable revelations about the way Hollywood handles awards shows. And now, the Golden Globes announced that it will not hold an awards show in 2022, and people are starting to wonder: is this the end of an era? Is it time to make glitzy awards shows where wealthy people show off their obscene wealth and clap each other on the back a relic of the past? Do people even watch awards shows anymore? CELEB looked into WTH is happening with awards shows this year and what the future might look like.
The Golden Globes: Canceled for 2022, or Gone Forever?
Pressure has been growing against the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) which hosts the Golden Globes, leading them to cancel the 2022 show. According to many, the Globes have a problem with diversity: there is none. Although the HFPA has made overtures over the years promising change, no actionable change has been measured. In recent weeks, HFPA members Netflix and Amazon Studios have both promised to cut ties with the association if they don’t make changes, and soon. Netflix co-chief executive Ted Sarandos accused HFPA in a letter of recently approving a lukewarm policy plan with a “lack of clear changes” to handle its “systemic diversity and inclusion challenges.”
WarnerMedia penned a scathing letter over the weekend, promising to stop holding screenings and other events until HFPA makes some real change. Per ABC News. “‘For far too long, demands for perks, special favors and unprofessional requests have been made to our teams and to others across the industry,’ WarnerMedia executives said in a letter. ‘We regret that as an industry, we have complained, but largely tolerated this behavior until now.’”
And although it’s unconfirmed, ABC reports that actor Tom Cruise went so far as to return three Globes awards in the face of the HFPA’s half-hearted attempts at reform. Other groups and companies are signing on to sign off from the Globes until and unless the HFPA addresses its systemic issues and proves that they’re committed to reform. The HFPA canceled the 2022 Globes to give themselves time to implement the changes and to show a dedication to reform.
But it’s going to be a long road. The Globes has faced accusations of sexism in the past, including from Avengers star Scarlett Johansson, and is often accused of being open to bribes and favoritism. Although the HFPA has brought more Black members on board and has laid out a path to new policies of inclusiveness, the atmosphere of exclusivism is pervasive and leaving many of the old members in place shows they’re still focused on profit over progress.
Grammys Faces Accusations of Racism
The Globes aren’t alone in facing an onslaught of demands for progress, however. This year’s Grammys show faced an unprecedented volley from Black artists who felt that they have historically been shut out of the nominations list, and still are. While the Academy has, in recent years, established a committee focused solely on insuring diversity and fairness in the nomination process, that wasn’t enough for many activists after chart-topping artist The Weeknd was snubbed from nominations. His After Hours album killed in the carts and single Blinding Lights was universally well received. But when the time came for nominations – crickets. The Weeknd – whose real name is Abel Tesfaye – slammed the board.
CELEB reported on Tesfaye’s response to the snub; “After the list of nominees hit the web on Tuesday, November 24, the singer — whose new album After Hours slayed the charts this year — fired back in a tweet, ‘The Grammys remain corrupt. You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency…’”
And Canadian singer Drake Graham joined calls for a boycott of the ceremony, in a show of solidarity.
The Guardian reports, “Drake wrote: ‘I think we should stop allowing ourselves to be shocked every year by the disconnect between impactful music and these awards and just accept that what once was the highest form of recognition may no longer matter to the artists that exist now and the ones who come after.’
He said he had assumed that the Weeknd was ‘a lock for either album or song of the year along with countless other reasonable assumptions and it just never goes that way’. In 2018, Drake refused to submit his album More Life for Grammys consideration after being frustrated that his single Hotline Bling won best rap song in 2017 despite not featuring rap. ‘Maybe because I’ve rapped in the past or because I’m Black, I can’t figure out why,’ he said at the time.”
The Grammys did move forward as planned this year, and Black artists did win, but the stain remains and they will have a lot of proving to do in the future. When top-of-the-world artists like Tesfaye get ignored, there’s clearly something at play.
Oscars Called “Boring” and “Insensitive”
Even the Oscars weren’t spared scandal this year. The preeminent awards show was held in the midst of a surge of COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles, and received a heavy backlash due to this dangerous decision. The show had already been postponed from its signature late-February date to the end of April, but many felt that it wasn’t enough. During the show, a brief, rushed memorial segment for those who died from COVID was deemed insensitive in the face of the packed auditorium.
Even former serial host Billy Crystal had harsh words for his old pal Oscar. Buzzfeed shares, “‘I wasn’t even in the mood to celebrate anything, because people are sick,’ Crystal said. ‘People are critically ill. People are hungry. People are broke. Do we really need to see millionaires give each other gold statues?’
This year’s ceremony, which was held April 25 at a Los Angeles’ Union Station to allow for better social distancing among the limited guests, was widely criticized as ‘boring’ and ‘unbearable.’
In a departure from tradition, there was no Oscars host, clips from the nominated movies weren’t shown, and the Best Song nominees did not perform.”
And in a moment long-anticipated by fans of the late Chadwick Boseman, the Best Actor award did not go as planned. Although nearly everyone expected Boseman to take the award for his breathtaking performances in the last year of his life, it was instead given to Anthony Hopkins, who opted not to attend due to his age and vulnerability. The award was even held for last in lieu of the traditional Best Picture award, increasing anticipation for what most people expected to be a triumphant and bittersweet posthumous recognition.
So What’s Going to Happen to Award Shows in the Future?
As of now, all of the major awards shows – including the above along with BAFTA, SAG, and the Emmys – plan to continue. There has been no signal from any board that any of the ceremonies will be canceled for good. But the forced cancelation of the 2022 Globes begs the question: is it time?
When Hollywood royalty like Cruise and Johansson have nothing kind to say about the nominating boards, accusations of bribery and corruption are rampant, and best-in-their-genre talents like Tesfaye and Boseman are ignored, is there really a future for these shows in an increasingly diverse America?
The HFPA seems determined to reform, reorganize, and get back to handing out awards in 2023. The Oscars will have some self-reflection to do after the boring debacle of 2021, and the Grammys is already forging ahead with more inclusive policies, but the long-term future of every single awards show remains in the air for now. Ultimately, people will have to decide if they still care enough for businesses to invest money in dressing up stars for these events. Companies like Netflix and Amazon will have to wrestle with what it looks like for them to be associated with an association accused of exclusivity when they’re working hard to be branded inclusive themselves.
With people bored at home, one would assume that ratings would be at their highest, a bad sign for awards shows in 2021. The Oscars netted 58% fewer viewers than in 2020, at a time when viewership should have been at its highest. Seven years ago, the most-watched broadcast even earned 40 million viewers. This year, just 9.8 million. Other shows have faced similar deficits.
So is the time of the award show at an end? Only viewers can decide, and they may already be doing so.