Two Golden Globes voters resign from 'toxic' HFPA, citing 'self-dealing, corruption and verbal abuse'

Wenting Xu and Diederik van Hoogstraten said it was 'no longer tenable' to work at the organisation

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 06:  The new 2009 Golden Globe statuettes are on display during an unveiling by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 6, 2009 in Beverly Hills, California. The 66th annual Golden Globe Awards are scheduled for January 11.  (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/WireImage)
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Two members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the organising body of the Golden Globes, have resigned, slamming the association for being "a toxic place for working journalists".

In their letter of resignation, acquired by the Los Angeles Times, Wenting Xu and Diederik van Hoogstraten said it was "no longer tenable" for them to remain at the HFPA.

Xu, a reporter for the New York trade magazine World Screen, and van Hoogstraten, a producer, freelance columnist and former HFPA board member, cited several reasons why they chose to resign.

FILE - Signage promoting the 77th annual Golden Globe Awards and NBC appears in Beverly Hills, Calif. on Jan. 5, 2020.  NBC said Monday that will not air the Golden Globes in 2022. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)
The HFPA have been at the centre of an ever-growing row since allegations of corruption emerged in February. AP

“The majority of the membership resists deep change,” the two wrote. “Internal opposition to the status quo has been stifled. Critical voices have largely been ignored.

"Insulation, silence, fear of retribution, self-dealing, corruption, and verbal abuse are just a few ways to describe that culture," they said. "Bullying of members by members is left unquestioned and unpunished. The badgering of talent and publicists: ditto."

In an interview with Vanity Fair, Xu said she had been "over the moon" when she first joined the HFPA in 2016, thinking it to be a stride forward for her journalism career.

“It started getting a little weird when some long-standing members started telling me some unwritten rules,” she said.

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Mark Ruffalo and Scarlett Johansson have spoken out against the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Getty Images

It didn't take long for Xu to start noticing these rules were counterproductive and kept the organisation from adapting.

"At first, I respected that, but these unspoken rules and the resistance to getting new members was pretty appalling," she said. "I saw all the problems, I decided not to say anything. I heard all the embarrassing questions being asked at our press conferences, especially towards female talent. I didn't say anything. I was scared of retaliation."

The HFPA has been at the centre of an ever-growing row since the Los Angeles Times published an expose in February, listing allegations of corruption and highlighting the fact the organisation had no black journalists among its 87 members.

The article also raised ethical questions over close relationships between the HFPA and film studios that may influence the choice of Golden Globe nominees and winners. Several celebrities announced they will boycott the awards and Tom Cruise reportedly handed back his three Golden Globe trophies in protest.

In the wake of the criticism, the organisation vowed to take “immediate action” to address a lack of diversity.

The HFPA responded to Xu and Van Hoogstraten’s letter of resignation by issuing a statement on Thursday.

“At a time when the overwhelming majority of our members have chosen to be a part of change, it is disappointing that some members have decided to try and splinter our organisation and sow division and doubt.”

The HFPA added that it was “forever grateful to the members that have decided to stay the course” and that the association is “ready to collaborate with our members and outside groups to make this change a reality.”

“The Hollywood Foreign Press Association is an organisation with more than 75 years of history. The amount of change that we have accomplished thus far is only the beginning.”