By Lara Gibbs, BA Chinese (Modern and Classical)
Despite having written, acted in, produced, and co-directed the groundbreaking show, I May Destroy You, Michaela Coel has been snubbed in the Golden Globe nominations this year, while series such as Emily in Paris received multiple nominations. This has highlighted ongoing questions of diversity and recognition in the entertainment industry.
Coel’s compelling and provocative show follows the story of protagonist, Arabella, in the aftermath of her sexual assault, exploring themes of grief, trauma, and consent. While entertainment value has been attributed to Emily in Paris, it in no way matches Coel’s brilliant, profound, and complex writing.
Having been snubbed in every category, many are outraged and rightly so. Actress Pearl Mackie called out the Golden Globes nominations, describing the snub in a tweet as ‘the wildest thing that has happened in 2021 and 2020 combined.’ Fashion photographer Tyler Mitchell described the snub as ‘criminal’. Even a writer on Emily In Paris, Deborah Copaken, spoke out saying ‘that I May Destroy You did not get one Golden Globe nod is not only wrong, it’s what is wrong with everything.’ As well as the unsurprising outrage over the I May Destroy You snub, the public has expressed similar disapproval for the Golden Globes panel’s oversight of Issa Rae’s Insecure in favour of Emily In Paris.
Furthermore, Emily in Paris has been accused of buying its nominations. According to the LA Times, over 30 voting journalists who visited the set were treated to five-star $1,400 a night hotel rooms. The Golden Globe nominations are decided by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), a voting body of 87 members, none of whom are Black, leading to heavy criticism for their lack of diversity. In response, the HFPA are to implement an ‘action plan’ to recruit Black members.
The Academy Awards are not innocent either. For too long, Black talent has been overlooked in the film and television industries. But why does acknowledgement matter? David Oyelowo put it aptly when he said: ‘acknowledgement changes the trajectory of your life, your career, and the culture of the world we live.’ Neither director Ava DuVernay, nor lead Oyelowo received Oscar nominations for ‘Selma’ back in 2015, which was also the year April Reign coined #OscarsSoWhite. At the time, Academy membership was 92% white. Though numbers have since improved, last year Reign expressed disappointment that many talented filmmakers went without acknowledgement by the Academy’s nominations.
In Arcanum Magazine, Tyia Burnett writes that ‘the lack of award show nominations, critical acclaim, and continued support Black and POC creators are not given prevents them from creating more work and landing production deals.’ This highlights how much power bodies such as the HFPA have and the importance of recognising Black and POC creators.So how much weight should we give to the Golden Globes, if they fail to recognise talent? Former Editor-in-chief of HuffPost Lydia Polgreen suggests that the I May Destroy You snub ‘is proof that the Golden Globes deserve zero attention and have zero connection to the actual culture.’ However, given the power they undeniably possess, it is clear that we must hold the HFPA accountable and push for voting bodies to be representative. Awards nominations must recognise and acknowledge Black and POC creators. We cannot tolerate creators like Michaela Coel going unrecognised.
Photo caption: Michaela Coel pictured in ‘I May Destroy You.’ (Credit: Natalie Seery/BBC/Various Artists Ltd and FALKNA)