When the world around you feels overwhelmingly negative, it can be tempting to fall into that same negativity to battle it. Samantha Bee's "Not the White House Correspondents' Dinner" takes a different, and more impressive, approach. The host was one of the most important voices of 2016, particularly in her work on Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, and, so far, 2017 is shaping up to turn out the same way. TBS announced in a press release on Jan. 30 that the outspoken 47-year-old will helm the event, which will air on Apr. 29 at "the exact same time" as the White House Correspondents' Dinner and is intended as an alternative for anyone who doesn't want to watch whatever Donald Trump turns that storied institution into.
The gala will be hosted at the Willard Hotel, and Bee promises a warm reception for journalists and dissenting celebrities, who... ahem... may not receive quite the same response at the traditional event. As Bee quips, via the press release,
We suspect some members of the press may find themselves unexpectedly free that night, and we want to feed them and give them hugs.
And it's exactly that attitude that I'm so drawn to in this announcement: the positivity infused throughout. Instead of taking a stand and asking her fans and viewers simply not to watch the White House Correspondents' Dinner, as it isn't likely to provide the same witty levity and good-natured ribbing of past years and administrations, Bee is providing an alternative — and a very productive one at that.
Not only are all proceeds for the "Not the White House Correspondents' Dinner" going to the Committee to Protect Journalists, which you can check out at cpj.org, but Bee is doing whatever she can to doggedly frame the event as a positive thing. Up to and including poking fun at the rapidly devolving communication between the media and the Executive Branch, of course.
Executives at TBS offered their full support of the gala by nodding politely and then muttering under their breath as we turned around. The evening is sure to bring plenty of surprises, music, food, and laughter — and if you're not careful you just might learn something. Specifically, you'll learn how screwed we'd be without a free press.
It's just so inspiring to see someone refusing to get bogged down in the negativity like this, and so generously bringing the rest of us along with her. It's important to find a foothold in these scary times, and build up your strength enough to keep resisting, rather than just tuning out and shutting down.
The "Not the White House Correspondents' Dinner" provides exactly that opportunity. Instead of letting her fans isolate themselves in fear or despondence, Bee is bringing them together to celebrate journalism and free speech and the power of dissent, all of which have been under attack of late. And yeah, she's serious about this. We're really doing this," said Bee. "This is not a joke."
Hold onto your butts, and hold onto your optimism, because the host is on the way to give the latter a much-needed boost, and I couldn't be more grateful to her for that.