The actor Scarlett Johansson urged the film industry on Saturday to “step back” from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association as criticism of the opaque film industry group, which controls the influential Golden Globe awards, continues to mount for sexism and racism.
In a carefully-worded statement, the Avengers star said the “HFPA is an organization that was legitimized by the likes of Harvey Weinstein to amass momentum for Academy recognition.”
Johansson said that “as an actor promoting a film”, participating in the organization’s press conferences and award shows “has often meant facing sexist questions and remarks by certain HFPA members that bordered on sexual harassment”.
“Unless there is necessary fundamental reform within the organization, I believe it is time that we take a step back from the HFPA,” she added.
The actor’s stance follows a letter from the Netflix CEO, Ted Sarandos, on Friday to the organization stating that the streaming giant will not participate with the Globes unless the group pledges to reform itself.
That was followed by the Amazon Studios chief, Jennifer Salke, who said in a statement that Amazon had “not been working with the HFPA since these issues were first raised, and like the rest of the industry, we are awaiting a sincere and significant resolution before moving forward”.
A day earlier, about 75 of the insular HFPA’s 86 members voted for an inclusion and overhaul proposal put forward by the group’s board. In February, it was revealed that the group had no Black members. In March, a former HFPA president was found to have referred to Black Lives Matter as a “racist hate movement” and its co-founder Patrisse Cullors as a “self-proclaimed ‘trained Marxist.’”
In his letter, Sarandos said he’d hoped the organization “would acknowledge the breadth of issues facing the HFPA” but did not believe these proposed new policies would “tackle the HFPA’s systemic diversity and inclusion challenges”.
As a result, he said, Netflix was “stopping any activities with your organization until more meaningful changes are made.”
Netflix carries considerable weight at the Golden Globes, with 42 nominations this year and six wins, including for The Crown, The Queen’s Gambit and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
Separately, nearly 100 PR firms representing the film industry said they would “continue to refrain from any HFPA sanctioned events, including press conferences, unless and until these issues are illuminated in detail with a firm commitment to a timeline”.
The Time’s Up president, Tina Tchen, called the organisation’s reform proposals “window-dressing platitudes”.
The HFPA has for years acted as forerunner to the Academy Awards, and in some ways is used for industry promotion and politicking for the later ceremony. But a devastating Los Angeles Times expose earlier this year, portrayed the HFPA as a pseudo-slush fund for semi-retired, foreign-credentialed and often obscure film industry reporters and critics.