The Golden Globe Awards returned to television screens worldwide on Jan. 10 after being off-air last year. No cable or streaming company was willing to pick it up after the Los Angeles Times published an exposé of “ethical lapses” in the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) – the voting body of the Globes – in February 2021. One of these lapses included a lack of diversity both behind and in front of the camera.

In 2021, it snubbed Judas and the Black Messiah which would go on to be nominated for, and even win, multiple Oscars. This was the same for TV with Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You receiving zero nominations despite winning an Emmy a few months prior for Coel’s writing. The Los Angeles Times also reported that the HFPA had never had a Black member up until 2021. These patterns of controversial behavior led to an industry-wide boycott of the Globes last year. Yet here we are again, right back on NBC where it has always aired, with a room full of seemingly unbothered creatives.

Except for Jerrod Carmichael.

The 35-year-old comedian hosted the awards this year. Despite a history of laugh-heavy opening monologues, Carmichael took an alternative route as he sat down on the front steps of the stage and softened his voice. It was rather intimate for something seen by millions of people. He talked about his thought process after being asked to host, believing that he was only considered because he was a Black man. He cracked a few jokes about accepting because of the pay but took a beat to confess his admiration for the people in the room and their creativity.

“Whatever the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s past may be, this is an evening where we get to celebrate,” Carmichael said.

The crowd seemed warmed up and eager to jump into the categories, despite the evident discomfort on some of the actors' faces during Carmichael's digest on race.

Brad Pitt, Sigourney Weaver and Jean Smart during Carmichael's monologue. Photos courtesy of NBC / Youtube

Historical wins

·      Angela Bassett won Best Supporting Actress in a film, drama, for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. This is the first major acting award for a Marvel Studios project. It was also Bassett’s first Golden Globe win in nearly three decades, despite her abundant filmography.

·      Legendary actress Michelle Yeoh got her first Golden Globe at 60. She won Best Leading Actress in a musical or comedy film for Everything Everywhere all at Once.

·      The film RRR took home India’s first Golden Globe for Best Original Song, beating out the likes of Rihanna, Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga.

·      Tyler James Williams, who many know as a child star on Disney's Let It Shine, won his first major acting award last night for Best Supporting Actor on a TV series comedy for Abbott Elementary.

·      Ke Huy Quan, another child actor most known for The Goonies and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, won his first Globe for Best Supporting Actor, on a musical or comedy film, for Everything Everywhere all at Once.

The Whale in the Room

Brendan Fraser was noticeably absent from the award show despite his nomination for Best Leading Actor in a film, drama. Fraser is considered the front-runner for the 2023 Oscar, but his traumatic history with the HFPA clouded his chances of winning the Golden Globe. In 2018, Fraser accused former HFPA President Philip Berk of groping him at a 2003 event. Fraser and his representatives reached out to the HFPA after the incident, asking for a written apology and appropriate action against Berk’s actions. According to Berk, the letter “admitted no wrongdoing, the usual ‘If I've done anything that upset Mr. Fraser, it was not intended and I apologize.”

Berk denies the allegations to this day and was only expelled from the HFPA in April 2021 after he sent anti-Black Lives Matter articles to other members. This delayed consequence is only one of the reasons Fraser feels he never received justice. He also claims he was blacklisted by the HFPA, as his number of projects declined, and he was rarely invited to the Globes. Even with Berk out, Fraser refused to return to the Globes.

“I have more history with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association than I have respect for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association,” Fraser said.  

With the front-runner publicly isolating himself from the Association, the award fell into the hands of Elvis actor Austin Butler.

Hollywood’s Scientology obsession

It’s no secret the religion of Scientology holds a strong grip on the Hollywood machine. Many renowned actors are members of the organization, including Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Elisabeth Moss and Michael Peña. The religion has had a multiplicity of scandals over recent decades, ranging from assault to economic scams and forced abortions. Leah Remini’s documentary “Scientology and the Aftermath” brought to light some of these injustices. She, a former Scientologist, interviews other people who left after experiencing horrific abuse.

One of Scientology’s most famous members, Tom Cruise, starred in Top Gun: Maverick, one of the highest-grossing movies of 2022. The film was nominated for multiple awards at the Globes, and while most of the cast attended, Cruise was absent. This didn’t stop Jerrod Carmichael from taking a jab or two at Cruise’s religious affiliation. He walked on stage with three Golden Globes, joking that they were returned by Tom Cruise.

“I think maybe we take these three things and exchange them for the safe return of Shelly Miscavige,” Carmichael said.

The disappearance of Shelly Miscavige – the wife of the church’s leader, David Miscavige – is Scientology’s latest scandal. In an extensive Twitter thread, Leah Remini details Miscavige’s 15-year absence from the public. She also alleges that the Los Angeles Police Department receives large donations from Scientology in exchange for cooperation, or silence. Remini herself filed a missing persons report for Miscavige to an officer who was later photographed holding a check from the church. Her report was dismissed by him hours after its filing.

Remini even claimed that David Miscavige refused to tell her his wife’s whereabouts, claiming she didn’t have the rank to ask. Remini has not had contact with Mrs. Miscavige since her reported disappearance and her safety has not been publicly confirmed or denied.

One small step for the Globes, one giant leap for… no one?

In what is supposed to be a celebration of cinema and television, the Golden Globes has simply been overshadowed by its wrongdoings and commitment to uplifting problematic celebrities. (I’m looking at you, Brad Pitt.) Comedy eases hard times but having to joke about a missing woman and violent racism so they won’t be criticized for ignoring their history might have been a miscalculation. And to be clear, none of this is Jerrod Carmichael’s fault. Someone of his talent doesn’t deserve to be made a scapegoat for a controversial organization. As pop culture and the entertainment industry make their way into the future, it’s more and more likely the Golden Globes will be left behind. Some burdens are too big to carry with us, and the HFPA has stirred up more negativity than it has support.