OPINION: 2021 Golden Globe nominees prove that Hollywood still has a long way to go

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“I May Destroy You,” created by and starring Michaela Coel, was thought to be one of the biggest snubs of the 2021 Golden Globes nominations.

With another awards season comes another disappointing lineup of nominees. Last week, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) announced the nominees for the 2021 Golden Globe Awards. 

This year is the 78th ceremony – but in 78 years, not much has changed.

Major critiques have come with the nominations of James Corden for comedy film “The Prom,” and Lily Collins for Best Actress in “Emily in Paris.” Her show was also nominated for Best Television Series, Musical or Comedy. The fact that not one woman of color was nominated in any television acting category is another source of outrage that demonstrates how out of touch the HFPA is.

Quinn White

James Corden’s portrayal of Barry Glickman, a narcissistic gay actor, received overwhelming criticism. As a straight man, Corden’s performance in “The Prom” felt like a caricature of a gay man and his experience. 

In 2021, it feels like we should be past the idea of celebrating straight men who inaccurately play gay men.

“Emily in Paris” was nominated for Best Television Series, Musical or Comedy, snubbing Michaela Coel’s “I May Destroy You.” Coel’s series received rave reviews for its beautiful representation of a Black woman putting her life back together after being assaulted, while “Emily in Paris” was seen as a surface level show about a white influencer making her way in Paris. The nomination of “Emily in Paris” over “I May Destroy You” set Twitter on fire, with many users pointing out the double standard in Hollywood for Black creators.

This of course, leads us to one of the most infuriating issues with this year’s nominees. In the television category, not one woman of color was nominated. In a year with a ton of great work from a diverse group of great artists, why are white people the only ones to receive awards season recognition? 

This isn’t news; every year there seems to be at least one category that completely misses the mark. Nominating only white actresses in a year that saw Issa Rae’s “Insecure,” Coel’s “I May Destroy You,” and Shonda Rhimes’ Netflix hit “Bridgerton,” which debuted as Netflix’s most popular show ever, is exclusive and illustrates the bias that Hollywood has toward art created by and about Black people. 

To Natalie Rand, a DePaul film student, these nominations only confirm what we’ve always known about Hollywood.

“This year’s nominations, as always, lack diversity,” Rand said. “Hollywood continues to represent the same groups of people time and time again, despite always pledging to make strides. With the same types of people behind the desk year after year, representation and inclusion in Hollywood will continue to move at a glacial pace.”

With another season of disappointing nominations, there was in fact, some good news. For the first time ever, there were more women nominated for Best Director of a Motion Picture. Regina King could make history as the first Black person to win the award for her directing on “One Night in Miami.” While 2021 is far too late in the game to finally have a Black director win, a Black woman winning the award would be a huge step for the industry, even amid a year of disappointing nominations.

Another standout this year is the high volume of programs from streaming services that are nominated. It makes sense due to Covid-19’s effect on the industry, but it has resulted in a big year for streaming services that are usually ignored in the awards seasons. 

Quinn White

This year, Netflix led the pack with twenty nominations, followed by HBO with seven and Hulu with six. Kelly Jankowski, another film student, pointed out that streaming services have become major players in the industry, and that television is no longer a dead end job for actors who’ve run out of steam.

“I think the nominations go to show that streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Studios are creating some great things,” Jankowski said. “They’re becoming big players in Hollywood and are having works being recognized and taken seriously. I think it also goes to show how big TV is becoming and is to be taken seriously. The industry seems to be changing in that television is no longer where actors go to ‘end their careers’ but instead a place to be discovered and start them. We saw that in ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ with Anya Taylor-Joy.”

It’s already been a turbulent awards season with the discourse about the Golden Globes, but with the Screen Actors Guild Awards, the British Academy of Film and Television ceremony and the Oscars just around the corner, we can remain hopeful that better things are around the corner. 

I hope other award nominations look different and cast a wider net,” Rand said on future ceremonies this year. “The competition is high because there was so much content consumed this year. People needed to be captivated by something to get through this brutal pandemic, so I hope to see projects that were most successful in that be rewarded.”

After a year full of political and social unrest, I would think that the HFPA would be a bit more self-aware in its nominations. For an industry that so heavily influences our world, it is disappointing to see how slowly the film industry is moving in terms of inclusion when the rest of the world continues to fight for radical change.

The 78th Golden Globes will take place on Feb. 28 from 5 p.m. to 8p.m. PT/8 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET on NBC.