The 2018 Emmy awards

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Friday, September 21st. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day.

Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard.

Coming next on The World and Everything in It, Megan Basham has some thoughts on the Emmy Awards.

MEGAN BASHAM, TELEVISION CRITIC: In these hyper-partisan times, it often feels like opinion pieces get written even before an event occurs. Take for instance the 2018 Emmys, which aired this past Monday night.

By the next morning, Fox News had already posted a report calling the show “Tinseltown’s latest middle finger to Middle America.” A few other conservative columns echoed this view.

Except, as someone who’s watched far more entertainment awards shows than I care to recall, that’s not what I saw. By Hollywood standards, this was one of the most politically restrained ceremonies in perhaps a decade.

With some minor exceptions, almost all the scripted jokes poked fun at the entertainment industry’s own hypocrisy and failings, not mainstream America’s.

AUDIO: Netflix, of course has the most nominations tonight. That’s right. And if you’re a network executive, that’s the scariest thing you can possibly hear except maybe, “Sir, Ronan Farrow is on line one.”

It even took a minute to skewer the elitism of awards ceremonies that have been losing more and more viewers over the years.

AUDIO: We just want to say a quick hello to the thousands of you here in the audience tonight and to the hundreds watching at home.

On the positive side, there were several lovely notes. Like a memorial that featured Aretha Franklin’s rendition of Amazing Grace. And a marriage proposal that came with no ulterior cultural message attached.

AUDIO: You wonder why I don’t like to call you my girlfriend. Because I wanna call you my wife.

Given that we’re in the middle of a highly contentious Supreme Court confirmation, where the #MeToo movement, which began in Hollywood, is suddenly playing a high profile role, the fact that no one mentioned the president or his nominee or, in fact, any Republican by name, is almost shocking.  

Especially compared the 2017 Emmys where winners repeatedly denigrated Republicans by name. The entire event seemed more like an anti-Trump rally.

Like when host Stephen Colbert made a joke implying Senator Ted Cruz watches internet porn.

AUDIO: Of course these days everyone loves streaming video. Just ask Ted Cruz. But knock first, you don’t wanna just walk in.

This isn’t to suggest that Hollywood put on a completely moderate face Monday night. It’s still a far-left industry, so American Horror Story’s Ryan Murphy gave the LGBT movement a plug and made a vague reference to “hate.” And one actress called God “she.” But that was about it.

Yet, on her show the following night, Fox News’s Laura Ingraham derided the ceremony for “[bashing] religion and conservatives.”

Roseanne Barr may have come in for some digs, which seems fair given that she works in TV, but otherwise Ingraham was wrong on the first count. No one bashed any conservatives. As for religion, African-American co-host Michael Che explained in a joke I partially thought was funny that his own mother would not be watching him on the show.

AUDIO: My mother’s not watching…You guys don’t thank Jesus enough.

Right on, Michael Che’s mom!

The second half of the bit though, well, it was fairly offensive and lame.

AUDIO: The only white people that thank Jesus are Republicans and ex-crackheads.

Not good, but remember, Che was still speaking in the context of rich, famous white people at awards shows. It wasn’t a commentary on all Christians. Just Christians in Hollywood. And hey, he’s not wrong that many come to Christ out of drug addiction. And alcoholism. And all manner of humiliating sin. Because it’s often the most sick who realize they need a healer.

Nevertheless, the next morning Fox and Friends’ Ainsley Earhardt chatted with CBN anchor Jenna Browder about the joke. Both seemed to think it a very serious issue.

AUDIO: If they were to use a different religion, Mohammed for instance, what would be the reaction?…That’s how Christians and all people of faith can make their voices heard.

Suggesting an awards show bit that was half-funny, half-groaner is a matter of religious freedom not only undermines serious threats to religious freedom, it makes Christians look as petty and un-critical in their thinking as so many sitcom writers seem to think we are.  

Emmy ratings hit an all-time low this year, and that’s only to be expected after last year’s wall-to-wall, in-your-face liberal extravaganza. After all, fool me once. But it did seem like the television industry learned some lessons from 2017 and made a real effort to reform. Knee-jerk bashing them despite this only reinforces animosity and distrust.

Conservatives and Christians don’t have to watch or even like the show, but if we’re going to talk it about it at all, we should give it a fair (and balanced) shake.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Megan Basham.

(Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP) Kate McKinnon, left, and Kenan Thompson speak at the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards on Monday, Sept. 17, 2018, at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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