Ankler Preview: It's Fun to Stay at the HFPA

Golden Fears, How Globe Can You Go

You are reading a preview of The Ankler, a newsletter about the business of Hollywood by Richard Rushfield.

It’s always a tidal wave of emotions at Globes noms time.

You can get apoplectic that this preposterous sham is taken seriously by any serious person.  (And then you can calm yourself by remembering that it’s not.)

But at some point, when I hear myself harrumphing, “This awards show is a sham!” and catch myself upholding the august standards of serious awards shows, the self-importance becomes too much to bear, even for The Ankler.  

And as the piety melts away, it’s hard not to admire the people who see this for what it is, and make it work for them.  Like, for instance, Video City Ted Sarandos, the perfect modern-day media mogul, who is willing to do what it takes for his shows and movies.

In the Globes you have the perfect marriage of two post-shame universe: the confidence game of the HFPA, and the world-devouring amoral monopolism of the tech world, who just needs to know what number to put on the figurative check.

What is refreshing about the Globes, now almost revolutionarily refreshing is how oblivious they are to conversations that roil the rest of the culture and Hollywood.  While the Academy leaps to respond to every hiccup on social media – Ban the host!  Double the membership! – HFPA floats along stacking their gift bags in the vault seemingly unaware that Twitter even exists.   What were we supposed to nominate women?!  Who said that?  When did that start?  

In theory, the advantage of being a 90 person cartel is that you can be fairly nimble and respond to whatever the trend of the minute is, not to say, the general overwhelming conservation roiling Hollywood for years now.

But being nimble collectively requires being nimble individually. The average age of the AMPAS voter has been a matter of great study and herculean efforts to bring down.  But in comparison, the HFPA which as best I can tell hasn’t admitted a new member since the ’70s, has to be something close to 150 at this point, just going by what I’ve encountered.

All that said, this is the ridiculous game we’ve chosen, and the HFPA is a funny line to draw if you’re going to start complaining about buffoonish, corrupt charades.  It’s not like Hollywood, even at its stuffiest, is short on those.

 You can say, no one should take this seriously, but that horse left the barn years ago.  And if you’re going to start griping about which is the serious trophy dispensing body and which is a joke, that’s a very fine line to draw.

It would also be slightly easier to dismiss the Globes as a buffoonish sideshow, if the Academy membership didn’t make it its business every year to so neatly fall into line behind them on 90 percent of their nominations.  The reason why this whole awards season death march survives is that The Academy actually does let itself be herded into some kind of warmed-over consensus vote by all these lead-up awards.  

It would be easy enough for them to laugh off the absence of Little Women and Greta Gerwig, but they don’t laugh it off. They search for the consensus, which the hucksters are in position to create.

Anyway, that’s the game. And the game of the Golden Globes is worth momentum and headlines, as a certain streaming App found yesterday when, somehow miraculously, by some kind of crazy coincidence, its films and shows dominated the nominations.

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