The reason the Television Academy gathered on Sept. 17 was ostensibly to hand out some awards to the people who make your TV shows. But by securing Stephen Colbert as host of the 2017 Emmys, the Academy also guaranteed that politics and political humor would have a place at this ceremony. During the telecast, Sean Spicer appeared in Stephen Colbert's Emmys monologue, and the former White House Press Secretary seemed to poke fun at the comments he repeatedly made at that podium about the size of Donald Trump's inauguration crowds. Though his cameo was definitely full of shade towards the president, fans watching the ceremony took to Twitter to express their anger and disappointment that Spicer showed up to the event at all.
The former White House staffer was a part of Trump's agenda until very recently, so it was frustrating to many to see him normalized by sharing a stage with Stephen Colbert and being allowed to get in on the joke, as it were, when Colbert referred to him as Melissa McCarthy. At the 2017 Creative Arts Emmys, McCarthy won the Guest Actress In A Comedy trophy for her portrayal of Spicer during this past season of Saturday Night Live, in sketches that highlighted his combativeness towards the White House press corps and defiant insistence on certain "truths" that could never be definitively proven.
To some, the cameo read as forgiveness for Spicer, or at least some kind of redemption. Here's how Twitter responded to the cameo:
1. Some Were Entirely Unamused
This joke was definitely not landing for everyone.
2. Some Saw It As Insidious
The cameo may have even done some damage, with the political climate being what it is.
3. Some Called Out Spicer's Work History
It seems awfully early to forgive Spicer for how he's contributed to the demonization of the free press.
4. Some Wondered Why Melissa McCarthy Didn't Just Reprise Her Role
Melissa McCarthy is a better Sean Spicer than Sean Spicer: discuss.
5. Some Pointed Out That The Country Did Not Collectively Agree To This
To laugh at someone is to identify with them. To let Spicer have a moment like this gave the audience the chance to identify with him. To many, he and his former colleagues did work that has damaged the fabric of the country. And now he gets an easy laugh and polite applause?
6. Some Couldn't See How His Trump Dig Made Up For What He Did When He Was In His Position
Trump's fixation on the size of his inauguration crowd is indicative of his vanity and obsession with popularity. It's become a joke that he refuses to accept the factual attendance as truth, but Spicer's repeated briefings about the White House's unconfirmed numbers said even more about how this administration sees the press and the American people. It's now a part of pop culture, but that doesn't mean Spicer's part in it should be reduced to a quick gag at an awards show.
7. Some Pointed Out The Racial Aspect Of The Gag
Society does seem to find it easier to accept the sins of white men than people of color.
8. Some Saw Spicer's Cameo As An Important & Scary Turning Point
The moment he pushed out that replica podium, Spicer crossed into a new era of his public life. The Emmys gave him a platform, and that can't be reversed.
So, though the actual Emmys attendees did let out some shocked laughter when Sean Spicer showed up on stage, it seems like many viewers didn't find this joke very funny and are disappointed that what was always going to be a politically-charged monologue included what could be seen as an endorsement of the former Press Secretary's post-White House existence.