The Golden Globes, a Beauty Pageant?

A Diversity Check on the 2017 Golden Globes, in Data

Written by Li Lai

T he 74th Golden Globe Awards are upon us, and it’s time to ask ourselves the question we ask every awards season: is #HollywoodStillSoWhite? Have we made any progress on diversity since the media even noticed there was a diversity problem?

To address those questions, we analyzed 118 data points: 23 presenters, 45 nominees for categories awarding creators or directors, and the 50 Miss/Mr. Golden Globes that have been honored since 1963.

The nominees we analyzed came from the below creator categories:

Best Motion Picture, Drama
Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy
Best Motion Picture, Animated
Best Motion Picture, Foreign Language
Best Director
Best Screenplay
Best TV Series, Drama
Best TV Series, Musical or Comedy
Best TV Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for TV

We disregarded gender-specific categories such as Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture so as not to skew the organic results that come from being allowed to vote for either a man or a woman. All instances of “nominations” in this report below refer only to the 9 categories analyzed.

Also note, while we normally discuss LGBTQ representation on Mediaversity, due to the study of real creators/directors rather than fictional characters in this report, we felt it was a matter of both privacy as well as insufficient data and have decided to refrain from examining sexual orientation in our analysis.

Now let’s take a look at the data.

Presenters and Nominations

Presenters give the awards, nominees take the awards. What share of these groups were women?

Women were more than five times as likely to be handing out awards than being nominated for them.

They were younger than their male counterparts, too:

Female presenters were on average 4.2 years younger than their male counterparts.

Miss/Mr. Golden Globes

The Golden Globes have upheld a tradition of crowning a Miss and/or Mr. Golden Globe each year since 1963, usually the daughter or son of a celebrity.

The vast majority of honorees, 92%, have been young women. This year’s Miss Golden Globes are the three daughters of Sylvester Stallone: Sistine, Sophia, and Scarlet.

Photo via The Hollywood Reporter

The similarities between the Miss Golden Globe ceremony and beauty pageants such as Miss America are clear, both in titles as well as the selection process, which honors external metrics such as attractiveness and stardom (as opposed to internal, skills-based metrics such as writing or acting abilities).


Presenters of the 2017 Golden Globes, by Gender and Ethnicity

By share, 78% of the presenters were white. Meanwhile, only 61% of the U.S. population was white in 2016, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Under-represented groups include Hispanics (-9% their share of the U.S. population), Black people (-3%), Asians (-2%), and American Indians had no representation at all.


Nominations of Creator Categories of the 2017 Golden Globes, by Gender and Ethnicity

By share, 89% of the nomination slots went to white individuals. This group is significantly over-represented at +28% in comparison to their share of the U.S. population in 2016.

Interestingly, black nominees reached parity — 13% representation in nomination slots and 12% share of the U.S. population. However, it should be noted that Moonlight, directed by Barry Jenkins, cleaned up half of those nomination slots (3 of 6).

Also curious is where people of color (POC) are lumped together: in the presenters, 80% of the POC are women. But for the nominations, 100% of the POC are men.

The stark amount of under-representation in nominations continues: Hispanics were -16% to their share of the U.S. population, while South and East Asians and American Indians had no representation at all.

Miss/Mr. Golden Globes

Miss/Mr. Golden Globes since 1963, by Ethnicity

The only award bestowed upon individuals based on external metrics such as attractiveness and perceived likeability veer overwhelmingly white.

Interestingly, multiracial honorees were nearly triple their 2% share of the U.S. population. Contributing factors may include two, rather unsavory theories — 1) that a multiracial face “suffices” in representing POC, or 2) that a high-profile POC finds more cultural capital in choosing a white partner, if given the societal opportunity.

A quick breakdown of under-representation among Miss/Mr. Golden Globes is as follows: Hispanics were -16% to their share of the U.S. population and Black people were -6% their share. Meanwhile, South and East Asians and American Indians had no representation at all, even after examining the multiracial honorees (two of whom were mixed-race Black and one whom was mixed-race Hispanic).

On Gender

The 2017 Golden Globe Awards echoes outdated beauty pageant or game show norms; smiling, Vanna White-type presenters who are mostly women hand awards to nominees who are 89% male. Meanwhile, the Miss Golden Globe ceremony reeks of a gendered holdover from the past as the majority-male Hollywood Foreign Press Association judges women as young as 14 years old (Scarlet Stallone, 2017) on attractiveness and stardom.

On Representation

White over-representation continues to persist. While the 2017 Golden Globes does give a fair shake to the black community, especially in creator/director nominations where (thanks to Moonlight) they reached parity with their share of the population, Hispanics remain the most under-represented ethnic group. Worse for optics is the sheer absence of South and East Asians and American Indians who have no representation save for one, presenter Priyanka Chopra, among the 118 data points we analyzed in this report.

The verdict is in: #HollywoodStillSoWhite. Hispanics get short shrift and Asians and American Indians are cut out of the conversation altogether.

Meanwhile, outdated pageantry is an undercurrent of the ceremony with the optics of women handing men awards, or having three young women honored for being the daughters of a celebrity — the youngest of whom is only 14 years old, but already being sexualized by media (as seen in the Hollywood Reporter photo above). Adding insult to injury, the stink of Casey Affleck’s two sexual harassment lawsuits gets little notice as he looks a shoo-in for Best Actor at the 2017 Golden Globes.

But let’s consider these findings holistically.

It’s true we only analyzed the creator/director categories. That’s because Mediaversity believes that true representation begins at the onset of a project; dearths in minority casting is just the visible byproduct of the core problem: Hollywood’s majority-white and majority-male storytellers.

However, several cultural trends are encouraging, especially for race if less so for gender. While we did not formally analyze the actor/actress categories, even a quick glance shows that the industry is taking this conversation seriously and presenting more opportunities for black and minority Americans, especially in television.

The second cultural trend that could usher in more diversity is the growth in TV consumption, as cable networks slowly unbundle and streaming networks open up more avenues for new talent, new perspectives, and new ways of storytelling.

It is unfortunate that for the 2017 Golden Globe Awards, gender equality lags far behind the small but real progress made in racial representation. This isn’t solely a Golden Globes problem; the gender block has been a tougher problem across all media we examine, and at Mediaversity we will be keeping an eye on how women, who make up the majority of this country, can begin to approach parity in both career opportunities in Hollywood and on-camera representation.