So, that lasted about 24 hours.
That’s the approximate amount of time between Beyoncé’s performance at Sunday night’s MTV Video Music Awards, when she struck a superhero pose in front of the word FEMINIST blown up a story high while Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s affirmation of equality rang out in the background, and Sofia Vergara’s appearance at last night’s Emmy Awards.
Sofia Vergara was perched atop a giant lazy Susan like a sports car at an auto show, giving the audience a 360-degree view as the ground rotated beneath her, while the CEO of the Television Academy, Bruce Rosenblum, stood next to her and talked about… what was he talking about? Yeah, I don’t remember, either; I was distracted by the utterly tone-deaf, cringe-inducing spectacle that was the over-the-top objectification of a woman who is far, far funnier than the “I’m not from this country, but look how hot I am!” material she’s typically given. Vergara is obviously complicit in her objectification, and maybe she’s really enjoying it, but that doesn’t make the optics any less discomfiting.
Another off-key note came from Stephen Colbert, who thanked his writing staff by saying “so proud of those guys, and one woman, sorry for that, for some reason.” Come on, Colbert! You honestly don’t know why people raise hell about how underrepresented women are on writing staffs like yours? Doesn’t exactly portend well for the hiring of Colbert’s new Late Night writing team.
2014: the year the MTV VMAs were more tasteful — and feminist! — than the Emmys.
It wasn’t all bad news for ladies this year. Moira Walley-Beckett, writer of Breaking Bad’s “Ozymandias,” the best hour of television last year and maybe any year ever, took home a trophy for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series. Gail Mancuso, who directed an episode of Modern Family — can’t really tell you if it was good or bad because, like most of you, I no longer watch Modern Family and have no idea why it keeps winning awards — snagged Outstanding Direction for a Comedy Series. A murderers’ row of badass ball-busters, all over the age of 50, earned acting statuettes: Allison Janney, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Kathy Bates, and Jessica Lange. Sarah Silverman won Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special for We Are Miracles. Spitting in the face of the uglier, misogynistic side of Breaking Bad’s fandom for the second year in a row, Anna Gunn won Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her portrayal as Skyler White on Breaking Bad, a performance so powerful I’ve described it as a suckerpunch to the solar plexus.
It’s really one step forward, two steps back with these awards shows. Sigh. At least we have this:
In a backstage interview with Entertainment Weekly, Sofia Vergara responded to criticism of the bit. From the EW story: “Yet when asked whether the stunt was sexist and demeaning, Vergara shot back: ‘I think its absolutely the opposite. It means that somebody can be hot and also be funny and make fun of herself. I think it’s ridiculous that somebody started this — I know who she was — who has no sense of humor [and should] lighten up a little bit.’ It’s not immediately clear who Vergara was referring to has having started the criticism.”