The Emmys this year were held up as a victory for diversity (to the point when #EmmysSoBlack was trending on social media), and it saw a number of Emmy records broken. Riz Ahmed was the first person of Asian descent to win an acting award, Sterling K. Brown the first black actor to win best lead actor this century and Reed Morano was the first woman to score a directing win since 1995 – no-one can argue that having a more diverse media is a bad thing. But there was one area where that diversity noticeably lacked, and that was diversity of thought.
The entire awards ceremony was designed to bash Donald Trump, with a joke about the commander-in-chief in practically every sentence. It kicked off with a horrible opening number in which preening humour vacuum Stephen Colbert sang about how Trump was a Nazi and was committing treason, and it only went downhill from there. Every speech was peppered with putdowns, from Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda going on about Trump being a bigot, to Alec Baldwin suggesting that he didn’t have a child last year because even the fact he was playing Trump made him too sexually repugnant.
Spicer used to work for the enemy, and so he cannot be rehabilitated
On Baldwin, was a one-note portrayal of the president really the comedic highpoint of last year (although, in all fairness, it did make me chuckle)? In a year that saw loads of nominations for Stranger Things and Westworld, how did they walk away with nothing when Saturday Night Live and The Handmaid’s Tale claimed the big prizes? Simple – the latter two had a message, and it was a message Hollywood wanted to promulgate. As with fellow winner John Oliver, they had added value because they were attacking the administration – because they had something important to say, not because they were the best TV programmes. Donald Glover, claiming one of his awards, said that Trump was ‘the reason I’m probably up here’ – Glover is a talented guy and his awards deserved, but it’s hard to suspect there may not be a grain of truth there.
With all this Trump-bashing, what was the reaction of the American left? They focused on one aspect – that Sean Spicer had appeared and made a joke about Trump – with absolute fury. They raged that Spicer’s appearance ‘normalised’ the administration, with opinion columnists lining up to slate James Corden for drunkenly kissing him. Nothing must be allowed to divert from the official line – Spicer used to work for the enemy, and so he cannot be rehabilitated. For the record, he accepted the gig as a chance to ‘poke fun’ at himself, and suggested that his Emmy critics should ‘lighten up’ – how dare he?!
They’ll find that a lot of Americans are more inclined to side with the President
I’m not suggesting that the president should be beyond reproach, but this isn’t the way to go about it – an award show about honouring the best in television shouldn’t be nothing but politics. And it’s starting to show – this year’s viewing figures struggled to reach the record low rating figures of last year. Despite the worst-ever box-office summer in Hollywood, the celebrities have not reflected in the slightest about how off-putting the public find their getting involved in politics, and the way they are literally laughing at people they believe to be below them.
Donald Trump has had no legislative accomplishments at all now, and he is proving to be somewhat ineffectual as President (that’s me putting it kindly). However, he has a wonderful step-up in a culture war, and that’s the fact that American people hate Hollywood more than they do him. They’re fed up of Jennifer Lawrence-types, telling them that recent hurricanes are God’s judgement on Trump voters, and they’re fed up of rich hypocrites back-patting for who can virtue signal the loudest. If that’s the battle they want, they’ll find that a lot of Americans are more inclined to side with the President claiming to fight for them than an entertainment industry which openly looks down on them and laughs at their views.