The Golden Globes Are Back….What Now?

Forrest Hartman


In a video produced for Highbrow Magazine last year, I predicted that the Golden Globes would return despite major missteps by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a small body that was the butt of Hollywood jokes even before recent accusations of self-dealing and racist and sexist nominations. As much as any journalist loves to be showered with praise for deep insight into his beat, I don’t deserve congratulations. The return of the Globes seemed a foregone conclusion to me, made obvious by the fact that when NBC announced it would not air the Globes in 2022, it took pains to note that the show would be welcome in the future.


NBC’s cancellation announcement might as well have been: “Let’s not allow something as minor as an ethics scandal to kill this business opportunity when some new outrage will be dominating the news cycle soon enough. Do a decent job with crisis communications, and we can all squeeze money out of your celebrity worship broadcast once the nation has moved on.” This is a cynical view, but admit it, you’ve seen far more headlines about Kevin McCarthy making concession after concession to become House speaker than you have the Jan. 10 Golden Globes broadcast.


The Globes, I believe, were less imperiled by the 2021 ethics scandal than by a general lack of interest. Case in point, the 2021 broadcast garnered the lowest ratings NBC had seen in more than a decade. It is possible that the Los Angeles Times expose that precipitated the scandal played a role in viewership, but there is little indication this drove the woeful numbers.



Apathy Amid a Scandal

To the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s credit, it has taken the last couple years to add members, increase its voting ranks and address other issues spotlighted by the 2021 scandal, which was significant and newsworthy. I applaud the organization for addressing its many issues … even if it was forced to do so. Hopefully, the steps taken will lead to a more diverse and artistically relevant ceremony, but only time will tell if it even matters that the Globes are back.


We live in a society where perception often trumps reality and money trumps, well, just about everything. I assert that the real test for the Globes will be the show’s Tuesday night ratings. Memories of the 2021 scandal may impact that viewership, but I haven’t noticed considerable outrage regarding the show’s return. In fact, in the limited circles I travel, I haven’t noticed much reaction to the Globes at all. It’s that ambivalence that seems to be the biggest battle for the Hollywood Foreign Press. If we’re being honest, it’s also the biggest concern for virtually every other major entertainment awards show.



Not Just the Globes

Much has been made of flagging viewership for awards shows overall, not just the scandal-plagued Globes. There was a glimmer of hope when the 2022 Oscar broadcast saw a viewership uptick, but the improved numbers were still historically low. Some folks in the industry, including actor Seth Rogen, have dared to suggest that people outside the entertainment industry simply don’t care, and recent polling by the Hollywood Reporter and Morning Consult suggests that (at least with younger folks), he’s right. It’s also possible that the declining ratings are largely because Americans have more entertainment choices than ever before. Go back to the days when the Oscars were one of only three or four viewing choices on a Sunday night, and it makes sense that ratings would be high. Today, many have three or four on-demand streaming platforms -- after they’ve looked beyond videogames, podcasts, radio shows, websites, books, magazines, etc.



Still Relevant

It's hard to pinpoint why we’re here, but it does seem the cachet surrounding awards shows has decreased. This is true despite the fact that shifting distribution models have, arguably, made film awards more relevant than ever to the average viewer. Historically, one of the complaints surrounding movie awards contenders was that some of the most noteworthy pictures got outsized attention before most Americans could even see them. This remains true with select pictures, but things have improved.


For instance, all of the 10 films up for Best Picture Drama and Best Picture Musical/Comedy at the Globes are available to audiences throughout the nation, either in theaters, on demand or through streaming platforms. And – despite the fact that the Globes have been critiqued for poor choices – it’s a nice slate of pictures.



The Value of Awards Shows

Ultimately, the value of the Golden Globes and other entertainment awards shows are that they call attention to quality art and – because everyone enjoys a pat on the back – encourage studios to make better movies. This isn’t lost on the industry, which clearly uses the Globes, Oscars, Critics Choice Awards, etc., as promotional platforms. Studios spend significant money lobbying for awards.


That money plays a role in the process and that smaller studios are disadvantaged is troubling. Yet I have a hard time criticizing any process that encourages a studio of any size to funnel at least a tiny percentage of the overall budget to movies like “The Fabelmans” and “Elvis,” as opposed to another guaranteed blockbuster adapted from a comic book. Because of this, I’ll pay attention to who wins the Globes on Tuesday, and I truly hope the systemic changes the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has made will increase diversity within the organization and improve the artistic quality of its nominees. It’s up to the membership to make that happen, but I still see any celebration of quality cinema as a positive.      


Author Bio:

Forrest Hartman, Highbrow Magazine’s chief film critic, is a longtime entertainment journalist who teaches at the Department of Journalism & Public Relations at California State University, Chico. He is also the adviser to The Orion student news organization at Chico State.


For Highbrow Magazine


Image Sources:

--Alex Mcleod (, Creative Commons)

--Jdeeringdavis (, Creative Commons)

--Jdeeringdavis (, Creative Commons)


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