Worst Dressed At The Emmys: The Podium Wearing Sean Spicer
Last night, at the beginning of the Emmy Awards, Stephen Colbert gave a great opening song and monologue -- all about how shit is so terrible in 2017 that we're all watching a ton of TV in order to escape from it. Which is true! It was done really well, and -- smartly -- included an aside from Chance the Rapper reminding people they could record their shows and still "show up at the protest."
But then, a dark pall fell across the stage and, indeed, the entire audience, as former White House spokesperson Sean "Holocaust Centers" Spicer zoomed out on stage on a mobile podium like the one Melissa McCarthy had used to satirize him on Saturday Night Live. Spicer had come to make a real good joke about that time he lied for Donald Trump about the size of his inauguration crowds, by announcing that "This will be the largest audience to witness an Emmys, PERIOD, both in person and around the world."
"That really soothes my fragile ego," Colbert quipped, "I can understand why you'd want one of these around."
Spicer's cameo comes at the end of Colbert's monologue:
Get it? Because it is super hilarious how he is a lying liar who earned a lot of money this year lying to the American people for literally no reason outside of the preservation of his boss's ginormous ego?
It was supposed to be some kind of self-effacing comedy. See! Sean Spicer is also in on all the #jokes about Sean Spicer! He's got a sense of humor about himself and how terrible he is! But no one was laughing with him, because no one wants to normalize Sean Spicer. No one wants to see Sean Spicer getting gigs at Harvard or hobnobbing with celebrities at the Emmys. Just as no one wanted to see Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live, and Jimmy Fallon playfully tousling his hair made us all want to vomit in our mouths. Taking the edge off of these people, trying to humanize them, is dangerous. Too much is at stake here now.
Self-deprecation is a way of making the worst parts of yourself more acceptable to others, by saying "Hey, I'm aware of this too!" It takes the edge off of your flaws and makes them more acceptable to others. That's the whole point. But the joke doesn't work when it's a flaw people have it in their hearts to forgive you for. Sean Spicer making a joke out of his job lying for Donald Trump and helping to push a dangerous agenda is fundamentally not the same as like, me making fun of myself for being terrible at cutting my own bangs and continually attempting to anyway. Charles Manson doesn't get to make self-deprecating jokes, and neither does Sean Spicer.
That's why people are so uncomfortable with it, that's why no one is laughing, because what he did is not forgivable. Frankly, Colbert and the writing staff of the Emmys should have been aware of that. It was bad and they should feel bad.
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