The Junos at
EVERY GOLDEN ANNIVERSARY deserves some upgraded bling.
For the 50th edition of the Juno Awards, winners will receive new gold and silver humanshaped statuettes – the sixth redesign since the inaugural Junos, when fans gathered at the St. Lawrence
Hall in Toronto to see Gordon Lightfoot, Anne Murray and Stompin’ Tom Connors take home walnut trophies shaped like metronomes. Last March, 72 hours before show time in Saskatoon, the awards show was cancelled when the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. After a truncated virtual version unfolded in June, expectations are high for this year’s virtual celebration of five decades of Canadian music, where 15-time Juno winners The Tragically Hip, including late lead singer Gord Downie, will receive the 2021 Humanitarian Award.
The festivities return to Toronto, where the first awards – then called RPM Gold Leaf Awards – were announced in 1964. The name change in
1971 honoured Pierre Juneau, the first chair of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, who implemented Canadian content rules for radio. The Junos have come a long way to live up to this year’s tagline All Our Sound, recognizing reggae and R&B-soul in 1985, rap in 1991, world music in 1992, francophone recordings in 1993 and Indigenous artists in 1994. The ceremony airs May 16 on CBC, which broadcast the first telecast in 1975. —Ashante Infantry with files from Mike Crisolago
YOU KNOW EVERYTHING is out of whack when Major League Baseball’s opening day lands before the Oscars. But so it is in the age of COVID. The Golden Globes Awards had the field to themselves in February and a chance to set the stage for awards season, but they ended up on life support after reports surfaced that the Los Angeles-based Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s voting membership comprised “around 90 international, no Black journalists,” as host Tina Fey said in her opening monologue. Co-host Amy Poehler twisted the knife, noting “a number of Black actors and Black-led projects were overlooked.” Wins by John Boyega, Daniel Kaluuya and the late Chadwick Boseman – and even having Spike Lee’s kids as this year’s ceremonial celebrity-spawn ambassadors – couldn’t save the organization from the skewering. Five years after #OscarsSoWhite and eight months after the racial reckoning that began with George Floyd’s incendiary killing by Minneapolis police, the Golden Globes seemed outrageously oblivious. That’s despite Chloé Zhao’s historic win as the first Asian director of a best picture for Nomadland; she’s only the second female director to win a Golden Globe for best picture since Barbra Streisand took home the statuette for Yentl in 1984.
Myriad technical glitches and the fact that many didn’t see the films as most theatres were shuttered meant viewership sank to a 13-year low with 6.9 million people tuning in compared with 18.4 million in 2020.
This year, others are eager to prove they’re woke and ready to change. The Academy Awards, rescheduled to April 25, pledged to overhaul their “representation and inclusion standards” to “ensure that all voices are heard and celebrated”; the Canadian Screen Awards (CSA), which air May 20, announced eligibility initiatives to ensure more Indigenous talent and films are represented; and after a “diversity review,” the
British Academy Film and Television Awards (BAFTAS) pledged to recruit 1,000 new voting members from under-represented communities after an embarrassing all-white slate of 2020 nominees in leading and supporting roles. (No Oscar, CSA or BAFTA nominees were announced at press time.) Meanwhile, February’s Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award nominations earned praise for their diversity.
Of course, with the Oscars, SAGs, BAFTAS and CSAs – among other award shows – taking place within the next few months, we’ll soon know if they enacted significant change or if their words are as empty as the seats at a pandemic-era award ceremony. —Ashante Infantry and Mike Crisolago