The 75th Golden Globe Awards and Hollywood’s Enduring Problem with Inclusion

Yesterday’s Golden Globes ceremony gave us plenty of reasons to cheer. It showcased an industry seemingly humbled by its past mistakes, and resolute to make a fresh, clean start. Female and male actors alike chose to wear black, thus displaying the strength of solidarity, and underlining their support for victims of sexual assault – within the film industry and beyond. Host Seth Meyers openly criticized Harvey Weinstein, joking that, in 20-years-time, the disgraced film mogul will be the only one whose name will be booed during the “In Memoriam” segment of the Globes.

The awards ceremony itself celebrated female skills and resilience. Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, a thriller focused on a strong female lead (played by Frances McDormand) won in the Best Motion Picture (Drama) category, while McDorman herself went home with the Best Actress (Drama) accolade. The victor in the Musical or Comedy section was Greta Gerwig’s coming of age tale Ladybird – a film both directed by a talented young female filmmaker and centered on a quirky yet relatable female protagonist. Its star, Saoirse Ronan, deservedly bagged the Best Actress (Comedy or Musical) award.

The winners across all three TV categories were shows with female-driven narratives – The Handmaid’s Tale (Best Drama), The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Best Comedy) and Big Little Lies (Best Limited Series).

And, of course, the crowning moment of the evening was Oprah Winfrey’s reception of the Cecil B.

DeMille Lifetime Achievement award. In a moving and politically charged speech, Winfrey spoke in support of the #MeToo movement and expressed her hope that the days of sexism and abusive behavior will soon be in the industry’s past:

…I want all the girls watching here, now, to know that a new day is on the horizon! And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say ‘Me too’ again.

The inspiring and powerful speech was met with a standing ovation and is already taking the internet by storm. The film industry finally seems to be on the verge of a long overdue reform.

And yet…

Under the glitzy surface and the giddiness brought on about by the awards, beneath the celebration and the solidarity, one could still see the industry’s many issues.

“Here are the all-male nominees,” Natalie Portman declared, as she arrived to announce the contenders in the Best Director category. Sadly, a look at the white men making up the pool of chosen filmmaker seemed sufficient to see the actual depth of Hollywood’s sincerity on the topic of inclusion. The situation was identical in the Best Original Score category, although things were slightly better when it came to the Best Screenplay nominees. These included Greta Gerwig, Vanessa Taylor (shared with Guillermo del Toro) and Liz Hannah (shared with Josh Singer), although none of them won.

Furthermore, there was not a single person of colour among any of these nominees. In fact, the total number of people of colour included across all nominations amounted to eight. Out of nearly ninety. Only two out of the fourteen total awards went to non-white actors and filmmakers.

The problematic topic of inclusion was further underlined by the Globes’ bizarre choice to classify Jordan Peele’s social thriller/horror Get Out as a “Comedy or Musical.” Peele’s film sent waves across the cinema world by openly – and masterfully – tackling the thorny issues of racism, cleverly subverting stereotypes and expectations in the process. Its message is chilling and somber – a far cry from lighthearted and funny entertainment. Choosing to nominate the film in the “Comedy or Musical” category is a sign of very poor judgment at best, and a trivialization of the African American experience at worst.

It is up to debate whether the Globes’ choice was motivated by the idea that genre films are “unworthy” to be on par with dramas, or whether the reason is altogether more sinister. Whatever the case, the industry seems to have a long way to go before it can truly embrace inclusion and equality.

To quote Washington Post’s Eugene Scott: “Ultimately, the question [is]: Can Hollywood commit to addressing more than one systemic injustice at once?”