The ‘Emmys’ and Diversity as Lip Service

Look, I enjoyed the Emmys in the sort of detached way you can enjoy a parade of pretty things as long as you don’t stop to think too hard about anything. But, in the light of day, when I’m not focusing on OMG HOW PRETTY so and so is and OMG my favorites are talking, thinking about what I watched last night is sorta …awkward and painful.

Was it horrible? No, if you consider that it certainly could have been worse. The hosts were clearly playing to the SNL crowd, and though some of their jokes landed, most of them fell completely flat and they clearly had no idea how to do the sort of light hearted ribbing you expect at these things, alongside with the more pointed barbs.

Did the right people win? That’s always subjective, so I’m not even going to go into that. But the same people won in most categories, and that’s just …well, not what we’re here for, to say the least.

Of course, the problem is not mainly that the same people won, no, the problem is that the same white people won, after the show made a BIG FREAKING DEAL about diversity.

No, really, a big freaking deal. They even had an opening musical montage that I’m pretty sure featured half the black men in Hollywood.

And, of course, no women of color.

See, this is my issue, even when Hollywood tries to be woke, they fall flat because they still kinda lean into the same stereotypes. Sure, it was beautiful to see diversity on that stage to open the show, and the song was fun, and I’m still not sure if Ricky Martin is a vampire or not, but true diversity should not be just lip service.

Which is what it felt like.

Oh, yes, we have a very diverse cast of nominees, the show said, as they patted themselves on the back. But, when you look at the list of winners, it was more of the same. And even looking at the list of nominees there was a sense that, somehow, it wasn’t really about welcoming diversity as it was about not looking like they didn’t care to add diversity.

Ask Rita Moreno.

Wait, no, the Emmys probably can’t do that. They don’t know Latinx people exist, so they couldn’t find her to save their life.

On and on we go, year after year. Hollywood says it cares. It’s getting better. It’s taking steps forward. And then they celebrate how good they are, how much everything has changed.

But has it?

The truth of the matter is, things have changed very little. There is more awareness about what needs to change, but that isn’t translating to hiring diverse actors, diverse writers, diverse directors, and it sure as hell isn’t translating to a way of viewing entertainment that is truly inclusive.

So, it’s okay to enjoy the pretty dresses and the celebrity meetups, but after all that’s done, we all better take one long hard look at Hollywood and how, despite the lip service, it’s still the same old white boys club.

Because what we’re doing now, isn’t working. Nothing’s changing. And we might need to rethink our strategy.

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