As I predicted long ago, the Emmys are already a response to the election of Donald Trump, who has recently equated white supremacist fascists with the people who have fought against them, nicknamed “antifa.” Within the first few seconds of the 2017 award show, host Stephen Colbert proved he’s not shying away from politics by using his opening number to talk about all the President 45-related drama his viewers were already thinking about. The Emmys opener couldn’t have been more political if Colbert & Co. tried.
The Late Show face began by recognising a legitimate truth: we’re all watching television to get away from the daily stress of politics these days. “Turn on any channel,” Colbert recommended. “Well… except the news.” He then switched from a video featuring the likes of Kim Jong Un, whose government reportedly fired another missile over Japan, to simply singing about how we all need to stop worrying about global warming and whatever is happening in the Middle East. Because, guys, it’s so much easier to watch The Walking Dead or cry to the dulcet stylings of This Is Us than concern yourself with the anxiety of haywire politics, right? “Stranger Things is much less strange than our reality,” Colbert sang while dancing with Stranger breakout star Millie Bobby Brown. “Everything is better on TV.”
The opening got even more straightforward, calling out Donald Trump’s most obviously unsettling problems. “Imagine if your president was not beloved by Nazis,” Veep star Julia Louis-Dreyfus sang in character as ex-president Selina Meyer. Colbert added while walking out of the Veep version of the White House press room, “The Americans has hotter spies than the Russia in-quire-y. Even treason’s better on TV!”
Even beloved hip-hop star Chance The Rapper got in on the Emmys politicism, proclaiming his love for police comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine, but asking, “Where’s the cop show where one gets convicted?” A sarcastic title card for The Twilight Zone played in response to the rhetorical question. Of course the entire exercise was a reference to the many police officers who have shot unarmed people of colour and subsequently gotten off without any form of legal punishment. Chance added, “If Hawkeye could be a soldier,” throwing back to the old-time favourite MASH, “Why can’t Laverne Cox?” This time, the Coloring Book artist was referencing the harmful “transgender ban” President Trump is pushing for the armed forces.
The final big political reference of the Emmys 2017 opener arrived when Chance turned the show back over to Colbert, who was walking among a line of Handmaid’s Tale handmaids. “On the bright side, handmaids, at least your healthcare’s free,” the late-night host sang before being joined by at least two men dancing to his song as glitzy-costumed handmaids and a number of women. “Our future’s always brighter on TV.”
If Stephen Colbert and Chance The Rapper keep calling out dangerous politics on TV, we'd say our future is pretty bright out here too.
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