The co-hosts also took on Sia's controversial 'Music' film and some of the other questionable nominees on the night.
A recent investigation by the Los Angeles Times reported there have been no Black members in the HFPA since 1987, leading the advocacy group TimesUp to launch a #TIMESUPGlobes viral hashtag on Friday.
One of the biggest questions on the minds of pretty much everyone was whether or not the HFPA, the Golden Globes or its returning hosts, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, would address the controversy. Coming so shortly before the broadcast, it seemed inevitable, but would the HFPA allow their own public shaming to happen?
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It turns out we didn't have to wait very long to find the answer to that question, as the pair addressed it almost instantly with a joke, and then later with a plea directly to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association to fix this problem immediately.
Hosts Amy Poehler and Tina Fey kick off The #GoldenGlobes from coast-to-coast! 🌟 pic.twitter.com/QpnIVLlatE— NBC Entertainment (@nbc) March 1, 2021 @nbc
The hosts worked it in to their explanation of just what the Golden Globes are, as it's always been the odd one out when it comes to major awards shows, awarded by "around 90 international no-Black journalists," as Fey put it.
But if anyone thought the HFPA was going to get off that easy, with a quick two-word dig, they were in for a surprise. And they had to wait for it.
Holding off until the end of their opening monologue, Poehler actually stopped the momentum of their jokes to really draw attention to it.
"This is probably something we should have told you earlier," she said. "Everybody is understandably upset at the HFPA and their choices. Look, a lot of flash garbage got nominated, but that happens. That’s, like, their thing. But a number of Black actors and Black-led actors were overlooked."
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"We all know that awards shows are stupid," Fey added, with Poehler joking that "they're all a scam invented by 'big red carpet.'"
But getting serious again, Fey closed the segment by saying pointedly that "even with stupid things, inclusivity is important. And there are no Black members of the Hollywood Foreign Press. I realize, HFPA, maybe you guys didn’t get the memo because your workplace is in the back booth of a French McDonalds, but you gotta change that. So here’s to changing it."
"Yes, and looking forward to that change."
While much of the night was surprisingly quiet on the topic, "This Is Us" co-stars Sterling K. Brown and Susan Kelechi Watson weighed in during their introduction segment.
"It's great to be Black at the Golden Globes," said Brown before quickly corrected himself, "Back at the Golden Globes."
Watson echoed his sentiment saying, "It's great to be Black anywhere-- back anywhere!" It was a subtle statement, but one unmistakable in its intent and direction.
After awarding Dan Levy's "Schitt's Creek" as Best TV Show, Musical or Comedy, he supported their stance by putting out in the world the hope that next year's ceremony will truly represent the breadth and diversity of movies and television.
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The HFPA's diversity problem isn't the only problematic and controversial issue the women addressed on the night. The HFPA first got heads scratching with their announcements when Sia's problematic "Music" film was nominated.
Raked over the coals for its portrayal of autistic people, and for casting Maddie Ziegler (a non-autistic dancer) in the lead role -- and then again when the film came out and they saw her performance, it was a questionable film to honor, at best.
"‘Sia’s’ controversial film ‘Music’ is nominated for Best International Flopparooni!" said Fey during a rundown of some key nominees. "I don’t want to get into it guys, but it’s real problematic and Twitter is saying it’s the most offensive casting since Kate Hudson was the Weight Watchers spokesperson."
The ladies did the usual awards show burn of most of the nominated films, and even added a segment where they talked about how things would normally go in a non-Covid world where the theater was filled with stars, rather than first responders, as it was Sunday night.
"It’s usually like Meryl Streep just hammered, can’t even remember what movie she’s there for," joked Fey.
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"Brad Pitt’s always waving at me like, ‘Amy, Amy.’ And I’m like, ‘Dude, I’m working. Not now.'" They had Oprah Winfrey writing her name on the tablecloth in pen and Quentin Tarantino crawling around under the table to touch feet.
"Yeah, those bitches are messy," Poehler said.
The point of it was to emphasize just how unusual this year's broadcast was. The celebrities were safe in their homes, calling in via Zoom -- kudos to technology for screwing up the audio on the very first win of the night! -- and even Fey and Poehler were broadcasting from opposite coasts.
Using stellar split-screen technology from the 1950s and earlier, it was a ... seamless(?) illusion that they were standing side by side, riffing off of one another just the way it used to be.
"I’m Tina Fey, coming to you from the beautiful Rainbow Room in New York City where indoor dining and outdoor muggings are back!" trumpeted Fey triumphantly at the top of the broadcast.
"And I am Amy Poehler, here at the Beverly Hilton, District 7 New Angeles and this is the 78th Annual Hunger Games," countered Poehler.
Let's hope it hasn't gone that far yet!