Maybe Not Everybody Wants to Give Everybody a Trophy

Jane Fonda, pictured at the 2015 Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif., received a new trophy this week.


Jordan Strauss/Associated Press

Amid the societal rot of cancel culture it can be hard to remain optimistic about the American community. But maybe this counts as a modest sign of rising standards: U.S. consumers are showing historically little appetite for events involving celebrities handing awards to each other.

Dominic Patten of Deadline reports:

The final numbers are in for the 78th annual Golden Globes, and they are limbo low. Lacking its clearly vital NFL lead-in, the semi-virtual and controversy-mired Tina Fey and Amy Poehler-hosted ceremony snagged a 1.5 rating among adults 18-49 and 6.9 million viewers on Sunday, according to Nielsen.

That’s an all-time low in the demo for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association-hosted show and a near-low in viewership.

Full disclosure: This column enjoys the comedy of Ms. Fey and Ms. Poehler, but opposes self-congratulation in industries with high signal-to-actual virtue ratios.

Truth be told, Hollywood denizens would have cancelled this event along with everyone remotely connected to it on Feb. 21 were the program not dedicated to honoring themselves. That’s when Josh Rottenberg and Stacy Perman reported in the Los Angeles Times:

When Hollywood stars deliver acceptance speeches at next Sunday’s virtual 78th Golden Globe Awards ceremony, they will no doubt make certain to thank the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., the tiny group of international journalists that doles out the coveted trophies.

But who exactly are the members of this insular, improbably powerful group? The answers may come as a surprise to anyone unfamiliar with the HFPA’s long and often scandal-ridden history, which includes fresh allegations of self-dealing and ethical lapses detailed in a new Times investigation.

The 87 current members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. hail from a wide variety of backgrounds… While the HFPA’s ranks include a number of people of color, there are no Black members, a fact a representative says the group is aware of and is “committed to addressing.”

It seems naive to expect Hollywood’s creative community to abandon its passionate self-love, but perhaps they will consider this moment before passing judgment on others.

What’s encouraging is that Covid seems to be accelerating a very healthy trend. Even before last year’s shutdowns, Sarah Whitten at CNBC noted in February of 2020 that ratings were dropping across the board for gatherings of celebrities expressing admiration for one another:

Last Sunday, viewership for the annual Oscars telecast plunged to a new low, with only 23.6 million people watching to find out which film took home the best picture prize, according to Nielsen data. It was a 20% drop from 2019′s ceremony. Those numbers do not include viewers who watched the broadcast on a streaming platform.

The Academy Awards weren’t the only awards program to see ratings slip. The Emmys and the Grammys both saw declines in viewership in the last year. The Emmys’ ratings fell 32% to 6.9 million viewers and the Grammys’ ratings slipped a more modest 5% to 18.7 million views.

As for this year, viewers who subject themselves to the Oscars can remain confident they’ll be treated to a partisan political message along with the usual ideological instruction and industry self-validation. The Hollywood Reporter’s Scott Feinberg notes:

The Oscar-shortlisted documentary feature All In: The Fight for Democracy, which spotlights voter suppression in America and Georgia activist Stacey Abrams’ efforts to combat it, just received a timely boost from the Producers Guild of America… if All In, which is being distributed by Amazon, is nominated for best documentary feature, Abrams will personally be considered an Oscar nominee, and if it is chosen as the winner she will personally take home a statuette.

More good news is that by the academy’s April 25th event the U.S. may very well have reached herd immunity so Americans can stop watching television and enjoy a night out conversing with friends and neighbors. Many might even want to spend time listening to people whose views they don’t share.


Bottom Stories of the Day

Say Hello to My New Little Friend
“‘Scarface’ Remake Among 22 New Features to Film in California,” Hollywood Reporter, March 1

Guess I Just Assumed Toonces Could Fly
“Passenger plane ‘is forced to perform emergency landing after cat attacks pilot’ shortly after take-off in Sudan,” Daily Mail, March 1

A Party That Looks Like Edgartown
In the Washington Post, Carlos Lozada reviews a new book by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes:

There are memorable and telling insider moments in “Lucky,” revealing vital negotiations or highlighting simple truths that parties and campaigns would rather obfuscate. For example, planners of the Democratic Party’s virtual convention thought about featuring a national map that would highlight the locations of various speakers, thus countering the notion that the party was a club for coastal elites — only to can the idea when they realized multiple speakers would be broadcasting from Martha’s Vineyard.


Mr. Freeman is the co-author of “The Cost: Trump, China and American Revival.”


Follow James Freeman on Twitter and Parler.

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(Teresa Vozzo helps compile Best of the Web. Thanks to Ethel Fenig and Wes Van Fleet.)


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