Content Warning: Rape
Award season is officially here; the Hollywood Foreign Press announced the Golden Globe nominees last week, February 3rd. The nominations were announced virtually, as the Golden Globe is heading down the virtual route like the Emmys were last fall due to COVID-19 precautions. Many were shocked to see the number of films and series that were left out of this year’s nominations, including Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You, Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods, and Issa Rae’s critically acclaimed show (heading onto its last season) Insecure. This is no surprise as there has been a history of shows and films centered around BIPOC people who have been shut out of these awards, as shows and films about whiteness are given a massive number of nominations, despite what critics and views may have said.
A prime example is Netflix’s original show, Emily In Paris, chronicling an American girl who moves to Paris was given a nomination in the Best Musical or Comedy Television series category. Many were not pleased with this decision, despite the show being enjoyed by many, fans thought that Michaela Coel should’ve received the nomination, as it tackled the aftermath of a rape. A white staff writer, Deborah Copaken on Emily In Paris wrote an article for The Guardian, stating her disappointment in the Hollywood Foreign Press for snubbing I May Destroy You.
Another snub was Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods – this film was released over the summer on Netflix and received praise for Lee’s directing and Delroy Lindo’s acting. Da 5 Bloods follows Black Vietnam War veterans who travel to Vietnam to seek their squad leader’s remains and the fortune they hid there. Many were shocked to see that Lee’s film was completely left out of Golden Globes entirely because of the many initiatives that companies were taking over the summer to highlight Black filmmakers during the uprisings.
Spike Lee’s children, Satchel and Jackson Lee were chosen last month to be Golden Globe ambassadors, meaning they would “assist with the awards ceremony,” according to an article for the Associated Press. Spike Lee and his children are the first Black ambassadors to hold onto these positions.
These snubs speak to a larger issue of whiteness that still runs through Hollywood. Although UCLA’s 2020 Hollywood Diversity Report concluded last February that BIPOC were getting more opportunities to be in front and behind the camera in the industry in comparison to the 2019 report. 40% of BIPOC people make up the US population. 14.4% of BIPOC people in the US are directors and 13.9% are writers. UCLA’S 2019 Hollywood Diversity Report reported that 12.6% of BIPOC people are directors while 7.8% are writers.
Another controversy that occurred as a result of the Golden Globe nominees is Lee Isaac Chung’s film, Minari being placed in the Foreign Film category and being left out of other award categories, such as the Best Motion Picture – Drama due to the HFPA classification rules. To be considered according to the Golden Globes website, foreign-language films are considered for their respective category if the film has “at least 51% non-English dialogue track.” Even though Minari is set in America and follows a Korean-American family in Arkansas, the film did not qualify for these big contender prizes due to the HFPA classification rules.
Director Lulu Wang (The Farewell) took to Twitter to express her disdain for Minari’s snub, “I have not seen a more American film than #Minari this year. It’s a story about an immigrant family, IN America, pursuing the American dream. We really need to change these antiquated rules that characterize Americans as only English-speaking.”
In 2015, when the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite was created by April Reign because of the lack of BIPOC recognition in the award circuits, filmmakers and cinephiles alike were hoping this would enact real change in the industry. A New York Times article states how this hashtag enacted a real change years later in the Oscars when “13 winners of colors took home awards in 2019 alone.” Somehow, 13 winners still aren’t enough; 5 years have passed since #OscarsSoWhite blew up on Twitter and other social platforms and somehow BIPOC filmmakers and people in the industry are still underrepresented. There is a lack of recognition by those in the academy and other groups that decide which films and TV series are nominated, due to outdated rules created by white people who purposely shut out BIPOC-centered films and TV series and the whiteness that still takes over Hollywood today. Even though the Golden Globes don’t speak for what films and series are worth watching, it is still important to recognize the hard work that BIPOC filmmakers have put into these wonderful works.