The Nexus of Pop-Culture Fandom

Television Collision: Golden Globes 2012 – An Exercise in Arbitrariness

Written by: Phoebe Raven, CC2K Staff Writer

Usually the Golden Globes are a fun, albeit very inconsequential event. Although the award is not as prestigious as the Oscars in the movie business or the Emmys in the television business, those that are invited tend to enjoy the event thanks to its relaxed atmosphere, the food, the alcohol and the unique blend of cinema and television.
The Golden Globes telecast 2012, sadly, fell very flat and we can’t even squarely blame Ricky Gervais for that.

The exact reasoning behind the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and NBC hiring Gervais as their host again after last year’s controversy remains somewhat shrouded in the land of “hopefully people will tune in to see if Ricky is being outrageous again”. Unfortunately, as Gervais himself pointed out at the beginning of the telecast, NBC gave him a list of rules so extensive, they basically neutered him and his general performance proved that not everything is made better by a British accent (Madonna made that point again later in the telecast).

The complete list of winners has been plastered up and down the internet (for thoroughness’ sake, I included it at the end of this post) and the fashion of the Golden Globes 2012 has been discussed ad nausea, so let me turn my attention to a more fundamental issue with the Globes for a minute: their arbitrariness.
2011/12 was by no means an exceptional season in either movies or television. In ten years time, precious few of the movies that were nominated for a Globe in 2012 will be remembered (you can take me up on that bet) and even fewer of the nominated television shows will still be on the air or have been canceled only recently after a long, successful run.

This, by design, is not the HFPA’s fault. An annual award demands annual nominees and you  make do with what you have. The HFPA though makes a few wacky choices with reliable consistency every year and I am not sure their “We are foreigners, we don’t know any better and our taste differs from yours” excuse covers the full extent of it.
While I do not wish to imply that all Oscar Academy voters watch all the nominated movies and then make an informed choice, the nominations and subsequent winners at the Golden Globes follow a particularly kooky pattern that undermines how serious they can be taken.

In the movie business, the Globes are still sometimes looked at as an indicator for the Oscars (i.e. if you didn’t win at the Globes, you need to put more time, effort and money into your Oscar campaign), although recently it seems the SAG Awards’ results often more closely resemble the Oscar results.
In the world of television it all works a bit differently. Since the Emmys are awarded in September, the Golden Globes often can nominate shows that the Emmys haven’t gotten around to yet, like shows that premiere on the Fall Schedule.

This year this fact led to New Girl being nominated in the comedy category, a show that I am fairly certain will get no Emmy love, because when it is time to vote for the Emmys, some midseason shows will have repressed the memory of New Girl sufficiently enough for it to be ignored, as it should be. (It’s a fine show, just not an outstanding, award-worthy show.)
What bugs me more about the Globes’ television section though, is the fact that they pretend to “award what is popular” by nominating a few network shows that draw a big audience, and yet nine times out of ten end up giving the award to the rarely watched pay TV show (see Kelsey Grammer for Starz’ Boss, which had the grimmest ratings I have seen on pay TV in a good long while: the final Season 1 episode was seen by fewer than 300,000 people).
Poor Johnny Galecki didn’t stand a chance either in the Comedy Actor category, and he looked like he knew it. He was just there as the ceremonial nod to network television, the HFPA’s case-in-point that you don’t have to be on HBO or Showtime to get nominated.

See, and if any of these television award shows could figure out how to deal with the non-comedies of 20-40 minutes runtime that air on pay TV (Enlightened, Shameless, Nurse Jackie etc.), instead of sticking them in the “Musical or Comedy” category, the win for Modern Family wouldn’t ring as hollow, because it wouldn’t have been up against two essentially non-comedies. But the way it is set up now, who can blame HFPA members for voting for Modern Family, when it is the only viable, discernible comedy in the “Comedy” category? (New Girl is a fad that will fade and Glee was only nominated because they had to have one musical show in the category to justify the name, but everyone knows Glee is terrible now).

The conclusion of the Golden Globes 2012 for television is this: it was an outstanding night for Showtime, nabbing four awards (out of 8 nominations in 7 categories), beating out main competitor HBO (3 awards). I was delighted by Idris Elba’s win for Luther, even though I think it outrageous that Luther was nominated as a miniseries, since it was the second season of a continuing show on the BBC, it just happened to have less episodes than the American market expects. I was similarly delighted for Peter Dinklage’s win for Game of Thrones, and his selfless shout-out to Martin Henderson (seriously, Google him and don’t get distracted by the pictures of the Australian actor, he is not the Martin Henderson Dinklage was talking about).

The television awards at the Globes are often even more random than the movie awards (can you believe they once nominated Matt LeBlanc for Joey? Proof the HFPA is insane!) and hence almost inconsequential. At the end of the day, it’s just a bunch of kooky foreigners giving out shiny golden balls and treating some A- to D-listers to a very expensive dinner (the desserts this year were made with edible gold, Google that too, it caused a controversy).

The Globes telecast, however, could be greatly improved upon by hiring a more dynamic host, who is willing to do a musical number, so Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy aren’t the only ones bringing the fun, and letting more of the “wild side” come out on TV, in order to set the Globes apart from the stiffness that are the Oscars. Taking away the telecast from the failing NBC might be a first step, because these days NBC can’t get anything right, not scripted television and not even football broadcasts. Until they “turn it around”, as NBC president Robert Greenblatt promised to try at the January 2012 Television Critics Association press tour, its best we let them toil in peace and in the meantime take from them what we wish to save, before NBC has a chance to do any more damage to it. If left to their own devices, they’ll bring Ricky Gervais back for a third time and no one wants to see that.



Golden Globes 2012 – List of Winners


Best Actor, Drama: George Clooney, “The Descendants”
Best Actress, Drama: Meryl Streep, “The Iron Lady”
Best Actor, Musical or Comedy: Jean Dujardin, “The Artist”
Best Director: Martin Scorsese, “Hugo.”
Best Actress, Musical or Comedy: Michelle Williams, “My Week With Marilyn.”
Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer, “Beginners.”
Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer, “The Help.”
Best Foreign Language Film: “A Separation.” (Iran)
Best Animated Film: “The Adventures of Tintin.”
Best Screenplay: Woody Allen, “Midnight in Paris.”
Best Original Score: Ludovic Bource, “The Artist.”
Best Original Song: “Masterpiece” (music and lyrics by Madonna, Julie Frost, Jimmy Harry), “W.E.”


Best Series, Drama: “Homeland,” Showtime.
Best Series, Musical or Comedy: “Modern Family,” ABC.
Best Actor, Drama: Kelsey Grammer, “Boss.” HBO.
Best Actress, Drama: Claire Danes, “Homeland.” Showtime.
Best Actress, Musical or Comedy: Laura Dern, “Enlightened.” Showtime.
Best Actor, Musical or Comedy: Matt LeBlanc, “Episodes.” Showtime.
Best Miniseries or Movie: “Downton Abbey (Masterpiece),” PBS.
Best Actress, Miniseries or Movie: Kate Winslet, “Mildred Pierce.” HBO.
Best Actor, Miniseries or Movie: Idris Elba, “Luther.” BBC.
Best Supporting Actress, Series, Miniseries or Movie: Jessica Lange, “American Horror Story.” FX.
Best Supporting Actor, Series, Miniseries or Movie: Peter Dinklage, “Game of Thrones.” HBO.