Why Hollywood Doesn't Take the Golden Globes Very Seriously

The Good, Bad, and Ugly Behind the Notorious Awards Ceremony

74th Annual Golden Globe Awards - Press Room
Actress Meryl Streep, recipient of the Cecil B. DeMille Award, poses in the press room during the 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards. Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Every January it’s time again for what many in Hollywood consider the annual kickoff to awards season: the Golden Globe Awards. For over seventy years, Golden Globes have been awarded to some of the biggest names in film and, since 1955, the biggest names in television as well. But while the Oscars and the Emmys are considered the most prestigious awards in film and television respectively, the Golden Globes have never measured up in stature. In fact, many in Hollywood and the media mock the Golden Globes and the organization that votes on them, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, for being little more than an excuse to pack as many stars in a room as possible in order to score high television ratings when it airs. So what are the reasons why the Golden Globe Awards just don’t measure up?

Who Actually Votes?

The Golden Globes are presented by the HFPA, which consists of journalists who cover American film and television for international outlets. However, the membership requirements are not tough – members are required to publish just four articles per year in almost any publication, meaning that many of the members are not full-time journalists who work for big-name outlets. Nonetheless, membership is very exclusive and there are less than 100 members of the HFPA who vote on the Golden Globe Awards. In comparison, there are around 6000 individuals who vote for the Oscars, including many previous Oscar winners and nominees.

Popularity Contest

Because the nomination process for the Golden Globes has been so secretive, there has been plenty of criticism directed at the HFPA for giving Golden Globe nominations and awards to the biggest possible names in order to get them to agree to come to the ceremony, which allows the HFPA to advertise those stars for the television broadcast. As great of an actress as she is, does Meryl Streep really deserve eight Golden Globe Awards out of a total of twenty-nine nominations, or is she just nominated on a nearly annual basis to ensure she shows up? More people will obviously tune in to see big-name stars than lesser known critical favorites.

Too Many Movie Nominees

Unlike the Oscars, the Golden Globe Award categories for Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Actress are split into two genres: drama and musical or comedy. Because of that, there are twice as many nominees and twice as many winners. This means movies, actors, and actresses that probably wouldn't be considered the best of the year end up being able to call themselves “Golden Globe nominees.” It also means there are no awards for technical categories like Cinematography. While those categories are less popular with casual viewers, they are important within the industry for recognizing behind-the-scenes personnel.  

Does Anyone Take This Seriously?

While awards for moviemaking are obviously not as important as Hollywood wants moviegoers to think, awards like the Oscars, Screen Actors Guild, and Writers Guild of America awards are considered highly prestigious within in the industry. The Golden Globes are not held in such high esteem, and most of the celebrities present seem to use it as an opportunity to knock back the complimentary drinks.

Four-time host Ricky Gervais has basically ridiculed the entire process (and most of the people sitting in the room, too) during his hosting duties. Other hosts have also poked fun and the event itself, including the fact that none of the nominees know who exactly is voting on or presenting the awards.

So Why Does Hollywood Care?

If the Golden Globes are considered a second-class trophy compared to the Oscars and the Emmys, why does Hollywood continue to support the ceremony by asking stars to attend and by advertising movies as Golden Globe nominees and winners? As the old saying goes, any publicity is good publicity.

The Golden Globe ceremony consistently delivers strong television ratings and receives significant media coverage. This can only help increase the profile of a film competing for an Oscar or a television series competing for an Emmy. The Golden Globes ultimately work as a promotional tool, particularly with audiences who aren’t yet clued in on how Hollywood really views the awards.