A Spicer Makeover? Not so Fast, Emmys.

Photo courtesy of Reuters

Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer speaks at the 2017 Emmy Awards.

It was not surprising when Stephen Colbert, Host of The Late Show and The Colbert Report, started the Emmys with a jolly politically-charged tune about escaping reality through television. But the viewers and audience members were in for a surprise when Sean Spicer, former White House press secretary, emerged from the wings. At first glance, one could have assumed it was Melissa McCarthy dressed as Spicer, as she did many times earlier this year on Saturday Night Live. But after a double take, people were able to confirm that indeed, it was the former White House press secretary making an appearance on the Emmys to laugh off his mistakes with the American people.

While Colbert joked, “everything is better on TV,” Spicer’s cameo at the Emmy reveals a disturbing truth about the political atmosphere in the United States. The fact that Spicer appeared in the awards show impersonating one of his first statements in the White House highlights an obvious lack of accountability and responsibility that currently permeates American politics. During his tenure as press secretary, in which he was challenged to defend the words and actions of President Donald Trump, he was consistently hostile toward the media,Through this year’s Emmys, he made clear that he was aware of what public attention can achieve.

To Spicer, post-controversial White House job and high-publicity resignation, the Emmys was the window to branding himself as a celebrity, which could lend itself to more high-paying gigs, including talks, TV appearances, and possibly even a lucrative book deal. This opportunist attitude undermines the significance of the political damage that he inflicted and illustrates that Spicer believes he can transition from dishonest press secretary to a well-liked personality. From the first day in office, he lied to the American public, not about the goals, values, hopes of the presidency, but about the apparent popularity of Mr. Trump in news coverage. He defensively and immaturely crafted falsehoods about the size of the crowd at Mr. Trump’s inaugural speech, condemning the media for trying to portray the size of the crowd as smaller than it was. He famously claimed, “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period.” This assertion could be disproved simply by comparing aerial photos of former president Barack Obama’s first inauguration and Mr. Trump’s inauguration. This habit of casting statements without factual support continued throughout his six-month stint. It is clear that it was a mistake for this man to be the mouthpiece for the White House, but if we are quick to laugh his mistakes off with him through a single display of self-deprecating humor, we will have failed as a public.

Comedy sketches criticizing politicians are a clever way to lighten up politics. When the choice is between laughing and crying over the dire state of something, laughing seems like the easier option — but this is only half the battle. People point fingers during a comedy sketch, and in the aftermath of the laughing, they are bereft of plan of action.

After I watched Colbert’s song, I was reminded of all the problems that the world faces today, but I wondered, “What can I do about it?” In a time when politicians obviously neither feel accountability nor want to take responsibility, laughing and antagonizing simply isn’t enough. It is our responsibility to water and nurture the seed that is planted by criticism and satire, to help it grow; it is our responsibility to inject some pressure into American politics. Our first steps should be educating ourselves — not just to be able to list impertinent facts, but to develop and defend relevant opinions. If every single American had an opinion, not based in partisanship but in the reality that we live in, we would be able to address complex issues at their core. As Chance the Rapper sang in Colbert’s opening song, “I love television: it’s a pleasant distraction, but imagine taking some action.”

One Comment

  1. sukza Park says:

    Bravo. Good comments! I like your spirit to comment on an issue like this one.
    Keep on doing the good work.

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