Two Golden Globes voters resigned in protest on Thursday, accusing the Hollywood Foreign Press Association of dragging its feet on reforms to the organization, to which not a single Black person belongs. Any attempts to address issues of diversity and ethics within the organization have been nothing more than “window-dressing,” they said.
That wasn’t all: In their resignation letter, Diederik van Hoogstraten and Wenting Xu—members from the Netherlands and China, respectively—accused the HFPA of creating a “toxic atmosphere” it’s ill-equipped to change.
“Insulation, silence, fear of retribution, self-dealing, corruption and verbal abuse are just a few ways to describe” the workplace culture at HFPA, they wrote:
“And as Netflix founder Reed Hastings has said: a workplace culture cannot change. It’s a statement we have seen proven over the past four months. The HFPA continues to accommodate a toxic environment that undermines professional journalism. The bullying of members by fellow members is left unquestioned and unpunished. The badgering of talent and publicists: ditto. Perhaps the new Hotline will make a difference; on the other hand, complaints will end up being looked at by the Board itself. And just recently a letter of complaint sent by one of us about the behavior of a fellow member, addressed to the leadership, was forwarded to the target of the letter without our knowledge or approval.”
The hotline van Hookstraten and Xu reference is one the HFPA implemented in the aftermath of a lawsuit filed by a Norwegian entertainment writer who accused the organization of “creating a culture of corruption,” according to the Los Angeles Times. The suit claimed that this culture included emoluments violations and a number of other ethical practices it covered up with a “code of silence.”
The allegations spurred a larger reckoning at the HFPA focused on the organization’s stunning lack of diversity, an issue LA Times reported on simultaneous with the criticism of the group’s other business practices.
In March, more than 100 Hollywood public relations firms wrote a letter to the HFPA alerting them to their decision to tell their clients not to work with the organization until it addressed the problem. Not long after, Netflix, Amazon, WarnerMedia, and the indie studio Neon told the HFPA that they would be boycotting the association. Tom Cruise returned his Golden Globes in solidarity; Scarlett Johansson urged fellow actors to “step back” from the HFPA. Amid all of this, a former HFPA president sent an email to the group’s entire membership calling Black Lives Matter “a racist hate movement.” Finally, the 2022 Golden Globes were cancelled. (Fine with me.)
As Vulture pointed out at the time, this basically amounted to a self-cancellation, “a preventable disaster for which the free-buffet-loving press cabal has no one to blame but itself.”
Van Hookstraten’s and Xu’s resignations are an indictment of not just the HFPA, but of organizations’ attempts to paper over deep-seated racism and inequality with half-hearted efforts (like hiring a “diversity, equity and inclusion consultant,” for example). It seems that the turmoil at the HFPA is going to get worse before it gets better—if it gets better at all.