The Entertainment of Politics: Sometimes It's Just Not Funny

I continue my “Blog Blog Project” this year as part of our seventh annual National Agenda program. As part of this class, students are required to blog about their experiences meeting speakers and observing the daily (or in some cases, the minute-by-minute) news cycle. So far, students have met with Congressional candidate and GamerGate victim Brianna Wu; Appalachian novelist David Joy; NPR reporter Asma Khalid; and Vice President Joe Biden with Ohio Governor John Kasich. You can view all the programs at https://www.cpc.udel.edu/national-agenda/national-agenda-2017-as-we-stand-divided. I’ll be posting blogs that the students vote as their favorites over the next few months. This one comes from Senior Casey Jackson, a University of Delaware Communication major with minors in Interactive Media and Political Communication. Here, she responds to Sean Spicer’s surprise appearance at the 2017 Primetime Emmy Awards show.

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Like the Oscars, SAG Awards, and Golden Globes before it, it is no surprise the 2017 Primetime Emmy Awards decided to get political this year. “Everyone’s doing it, why shouldn’t we? But how can we make it different from the others?”: I imagine was the thought of an Emmy producer or maybe even host Stephen Colbert himself. Nonetheless, someone gave the green light on former White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s surprise appearance during the show.

Here’s why this comedy bit was not the least bit funny: glamorizing the entertainment of politics is one issue but giving an individual a platform – even if it is just to be funny – who lied to the American people time and time again just because his boss told him to, is another issue.

It is very easy for Hollywood’s elites to claim this appearance was “all in good comedy” or something to “make the audience laugh.” However, the damage this man, along with this current administration, has caused resonates with many American people. They, and I, are not laughing.

“This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period.” Spicer said early into his tenure as press secretary, which multiple news outlets and scholars alike showed to be false (https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/white-house/how-sean-spicer-went-horribly-wrong-n785496). Instead of accepting the definitive evidence, Spicer instead double-downed on the media’s scrutiny of President Trump.

The entertainment of politics is an issue that has come to the forefront in recent years with many regarding the 2016 presidential election as the catalyst. Instead of feelings of safety, trust, and agreement towards the government many Americans, myself included, instead feel we are constantly inside of a “House of Cards” episode. With the passing of every day, news feels more like a soap opera than reality.

The cat-and-mouse back-and-forth with Hollywood’s feelings toward this administration has run its course. It is no longer a joke or something to poke fun at. By placing Spicer in the spotlight, it not only underscored many of the feelings of the American people but places a hold on how important these celebrities actually find the issues facing this country. In part, it may be hard for them because they live in the “Hollywood bubble.” Although many of these celebrities understand the social, economic, and political issues and continue to be advocates for the issues they care deeply about, they may be a little out of touch with how such an appearance by Spicer impacts the common American citizen.

Think about the Jewish American who refers back to Spicer’s statement about Hitler “never using chemicals as a weapon.” Think of the African American or the female American who watched Spicer patronize reporter April Ryan for shaking her head during his briefing or when he asked if any of the members of the Congressional Black Caucus were her friends. Think of the Muslim American, who watched Spicer insist on the travel ban, “not being a ban at all.” Spicer’s ability to poke fun at his once thought-to-be-accurate statements highlights the notion of him being fully aware that they were false, or at the very least, things that he himself may have not personally believed. Instead of the bad guy he once was viewed as, the Emmys highlighted Spicer as the hero that made it through the storm. But what about the American’s who still carry those statements with them every day? To them, he’s not the comedian and he most certainly is not the hero.

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This blog was written by student Casey Jackson at the University of Delaware for a course assignment.

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