Many issues, however, still remain
The Asian-American entertainment community experienced huge success in the most recent installment of the Golden Globes. The award for best director of a motion picture went to Chloe Zhao, a born-and-raised Chinese director, making her the second Asian director and the first Asian woman director ever to receive this prestigious award. On top of that, Minari, an American film about a Korean family struggling to adapt to the “American” way of life, won best foreign film.
These successes on the world stage of the Golden Globes can provide hope to the community of Asian entertainers. This year’s Golden Globes serve as proof that there’s a place for Asian creators on the coveted awards show stage (virtual though it may be this year due to COVID-19).
Not only that: this year’s winners also included Black actors and creators Chadwick Boseman, Andra Day, Daniel Kaluuya, and John Boyega. These wins are significant in the aftermath of 2020’s Black Lives Matter demonstrations: Black excellence has finally been celebrated on the world stage of the Golden Globes.
This year’s results are widely suspected to be organizers’ collective response to last year’s criticism for the lack of representation of minority actors, writers and creators. This decision, made by a panel of 87 judges in the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), shows a willingness to provide a platform for minorities to receive the recognition they have been fighting for decades.
Although we can celebrate the success of the winners on the night of the ceremony, this year’s event isn’t without any controversy. Cinephiles questioned the choice for James Corden’s nomination for his role in The Prom and the fact that the critically divisive TV show Emily in Paris received two nominations enraged many viewers. The most controversial of them all is the fact that Minari was snubbed from the best drama feature category due to being a “foreign” film.
This raises questions about the nature of the categories in question: although the film was shot in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the majority of the film is in Korean. Should that mean the film is no longer eligible for the Best Drama Feature category? Many film goers and actors question how the fact that a film made in the state of Oklahoma could still not be considered an American film. Asian Canadian actor Simu Liu said in an interview on the matter: “it [Minari] is a beautiful story of an immigrant family trying to build a life from the ground up. What could be more American than that?”
However, this was not the only time that the qualification of the categories was questioned by the masses. The Farewell was also placed in the Foreign Language film category, even though the majority of the cast and crew was American. Director of The Farewell, Lulu Wang, addressed this year’s controversy tweeting: “It’s a story about an immigrant family, IN America, pursuing the American dream. We really need to change these antiquated rules that characterize America as only English-speaking.”
The fact that this conundrum has raised questions within the industry shows that attitudes towards minorities are pushing for more major change in Hollywood. What constitutes as American? Does being American or Canadian mean speaking fluent English (or French in some places)? Or does having experienced North American society make a person “American” or “Canadian”?
So far, the Golden Globes organization has refused to comment on the controversy and the qualification of the categories.