Federalist Lady Very Mad At VMAs For Being Politically And Socially Relevant
We live in an age where we can watch practically anything we like, at any time. If I were to decide I wanted to watch the episode of The Littlest Hobo wherein Hobo and Mike Myers team up to help a young fella in a wheelchair win the big frisbee tournament? I can totally go and do that. If I want to rewatch Supernatural because I'm bored, still lockdowning and honestly I got lost and I can't figure out what's even going on now? I can do that and in fact am doing that right now. There are many, many options! No one really has to watch things they don't feel like watching, pretty much ever.
But this weekend, Federalist writer Libby Emmons watched the VMAs and did not care for them. And instead of changing the channel, she just sat there, raging about the fact that the show was not "escapist" enough for her tastes. Which means that it was obvious that it was being made in a world where there is a pandemic and also a lot of social unrest. She just wanted a night free from COVID-19 and social justice, and boy, was she ever let down. It's almost as if the whole awards show was not designed with her personal comfort in mind.
Via The Federalist:
The whole presentation was almost an homage to COVID-19 with an undercurrent of social justice. Frontline emergency workers were lauded for dancing and singing in empty hospital wards, cleared out for the onslaught of Wuhan virus patients that in many places never arrived. The "live" audience was a bunch of cars, presumably with people inside, but maybe it was just product placement. In accepting their awards, artists said, "Justice for Jacob Blake and justice for Breonna Taylor."
She was even more annoyed that the artists socially distanced, accepted their awards in videos or backstage, or wore masks while performing. Because "[i]t certainly wasn't respectful to the audiences at home, who could hardly enjoy the performances because half the artists' expressions were blocked off."
That would probably be super poignant in a world without Sia. Ok, maybe not.
Most of Emmons's rage, however, was reserved for those who dared get political. Specifically Black performers who dared to acknowledge the Black Lives Matter movement and the problem of police brutality.
Another category, "Video for Good," celebrated the most politically woke video because, according to celebrities, only political art is worthwhile. After winning for her "I Can't Breathe" video, H.E.R. said she's "super proud of everyone speaking out for social justice" while accepting her award from a nondescript off-stage room.
Keke Palmer spoke about the recent madness in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and how the phenomenon of Black Lives Matter shows that her generation is standing up and taking responsibility. "It's our time to be the change we want to see," she said, as the unseen crowd let up whoops and cheers. It turns out they were on Zoom or something equally as horrible.
Imagine having the fucking gall to sit there as a white woman and get all huffy about Black artists having opinions on civil rights instead of catering to you. It would honestly be impressive if it weren't so grotesque.
If Libby Emmons wishes to experience a music show with absolutely no political and social relevance, she is free to watch the many, many episodes of "The Lawrence Welk Show" streaming on YouTube. There's no coronavirus in those tiny bubbles. Perhaps she might like this jam, from Patti Page.
Or like ... Mel Tormé? Paul Anka? Pat Boone? I don't know, I'm basically just naming people my parents and grandparents notably hated at this point, but you catch my drift. There are options. They're not great options, but trying to produce something that won't offend anyone usually means you wind up with elevator music, which no one actually likes. But if that is what Ms. Emmons wants, there is a whole hour of it that she can easily stream on YouTube.
Republicans always like to push this line about how celebrities should keep their political opinions to themselves, how music and movies should be apolitical and escapist in nature. They try to present this as some principled stand that they would definitely hold regardless of which way the wind was blowing. That they would have just as much of a problem if movies and music had a rightwing political agenda.
It's absolute bullshit and we all know it. If it weren't bullshit, they'd be mad at James Woods, they'd be mad at Clint Eastwood, they'd be mad at Kanye West (now, not when he was yelling at Bush about Hurricane Katrina), they would not be trying to make Scott Baio or Antonio Sabato Jr. happen again. And they sure as hell would not have elected Donald Trump.
Conservatives would absolutely love it if all of the good musicians and artists had a rightwing bent. They would die of happiness. Granted, they never seem to want to fix this by actually picking up an instrument, but that's a lot of work. It's much easier to just sit there and tell those who did do that work that it is now their job to entertain you and therefore they do not get to be human beings with thoughts and opinions anymore.
Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse