The One Thing the Golden Globes Get Right, Every Year

No one takes the Golden Globes seriously, but we watch them anyway. Why?

William Bibbianiby William Bibbiani

 

We don’t cover the Golden Globes at CraveOnline. We don’t even post the winners of the various awards because… do we really have to go through this again? 

The Golden Globes are an awards ceremony run by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), a group of nebulously qualified 90 individuals (strike that, the official website only says “about 90”) whose organization has been accused over the decades of exclusionary membership policies and outright fraud. Even former Golden Globes host Ricky Gervais has made jokes about the HFPA taking bribes in exchange for famously suspicious nominations, and in his official capacity as the master of ceremonies no less.

They are arguably meaningless awards, distributed not by filmmakers themselves or even prolific, influential critics or members of the press (the minimum publication requirement for membership is a mere four articles per year). “Active” members – those who actually vote for the Golden Globes – must also live in Southern California, which shoots holes in the theory that their “international” status grants them a certain credibility and/or novelty. 

Suffice it to say, very few people within the entertainment industry take the Golden Globes seriously. But we do, however, all seem to actually watch them, every year. And although we snark and criticize, we also seem to enjoy ourselves. Why is this?

 

The Golden Globes Put On A Good Show

 2015 Golden Globes Tina Fey Amy Poehler

That is their power. More so than the various critics awards – most of which are voted upon by critics and members of the press in legitimately good standing – they reach audiences across the world, because they are on TV. The stars actually show up, and the casual atmosphere (aided, no doubt, by the understanding that it’s more of a good party than an actual, meaningful event) allows for many memorable DVR-friendly moments that people outside the industry can enjoy over dinner and at viewing parties with their friends.

This audience outreach has the intended result that the best entertainment awards ceremonies should have: they raise awareness of films and TV shows that mainstream audiences may never have watched or even heard of before. Twitter cried out tonight with screams of “What the heck is ‘The Affair?!’”, because the relatively low-rated series doesn’t have the same avid following as its fellow nominees “House of Cards” or “Game of Thrones.” And now at least some of those people are bound to watch what some critics, myself included, think is one of the best shows on television.

As for the films, the winners in these categories are typically more conventional, and as such are often used to help predict the upcoming Academy Awards. Even though the HFPA members themselves don’t also vote for the Oscars, the awards they present give films, filmmakers and actors a heightened visibility. The winners now have a very public victory that certainly segues neatly into the Oscars ceremony: an Academy Awards win now (or even a snub) will be part of a pre-existing narrative playing out to the people at home. And seeing a dry run of the winners’ acceptance speeches doesn’t hurt either.

 

What Can We Do About It?

Ricky Gervais Golden Globes

What are we to make of this? Should we implore the Hollywood Foreign Press Association to take their jobs seriously, since a tangible amount of real power is in their hands? Well, of course we should, but a more significant approach might be for other voting bodies to learn a thing or two from the presentation of the Golden Globes, which unlike the actual members of the HFPA actually does succeed in making an impact on viewers at home.

Televising critics awards might be one way to go, but the majority of critics awards only announce the winners, not the nominees, which would ruin an important aspect of the entertainment value of a televised ceremony: suspense. Announcing the nominees first for one or more of the major critics awards, only to give out the prizes at the ceremony itself, might make for better television but it would also risk sullying the integrity of the organization itself. It would appear as though these legitimate critics and journalists were playing to a crowd, as opposed to adhering only to their own principles and refined tastes. The solution cannot be to strip an awards body of dignity, heavens no, so we must look elsewhere.

 

Pay Attention, Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences

Oscars Cirque Du Soleil 

The time has long since passed for the Oscars to finally admit that they are not a Broadway revue and are just be a damn awards show, first and foremost. The Golden Globes move at a steady clip – they have to, they have a ton of awards to give out – and the Oscars may want to consider doing the same. Fewer montages, and fewer stage performances that exist more to entertain the in-house crowd than the folks at home. The Oscars celebrate movies, not stage musicals, so until someone finally tries to turn the Oscar ceremony into some kind of motion picture of its own, the abundance of so-called “showmanship” on display at the Academy Awards will probably always come across as fake and even more self-congratulatory than the ceremony already is.

But the Golden Globes have an affable air to their ceremony. The nominees aren’t sitting in a theater staring at a stage, they are sitting at tables together, having conversations between announcements and – perhaps most importantly – drinking like fish. That’s a casual atmosphere that audiences respond to and enjoy, and treating the Oscars a bit more casually couldn’t hurt a damned thing. They will still mean more than the Globes by virtue of the fact that the voters have all actually proved that they have at least some idea what they’re voting for. Letting a bit of air out of one of the stuffiest events of any given year could only help.

So keep the In Memoriam montages, and let the nominees for Best Original Song perform. Give the host an opening monologue and then only bring them out for a few quick, self-effacing jokes now and then. Most importantly, let the nominated talent – the people audiences are actually watching the ceremony to see – be the real entertainment. Let them enjoy themselves in a way that feels inviting and fun to the audiences at home, instead of staged and self-important.

Because there’s one thing the Golden Globes do right, that no other televised entertainment awards ceremony does: they don’t take themselves too seriously. The awards themselves may be meaningless, but the show is damn good television, and that has a power all its own. Now if only a real awards ceremony would put that lesson to good use…

 


William Bibbiani is the editor of CraveOnline’s Film Channel and the host of The B-Movies Podcast and The Blue Movies Podcast. Follow him on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani.