Saturday Night Live Starts the 2018 Emmys with a Bang
Last week the 70th annual Emmy awards started off with a bang as SNL stars Kenan Thompson and Kate McKinnon got the ball rolling with their own musical number entitled “We Solved It!,” an ode to the progress and advancement of diversity in the television industry by satirizing stereotypes.
Thompson mentioned that this year, the Emmys had amassed the most diverse group of nominees the award show has ever seen with their opening musical number, “We Solved It!,” representing that the Emmys had “solved” its diversity issues. By creating a comical song about the battle for diversity being over within The Emmys, they showed the importance of diversity and equal representation to them as a group of people. But, the opening musical number is ridiculing itself — Thompson and McKinnon made it abundantly clear that there is still much progress to be made by using comedy to address the issue.
It started with a song
“The intent [of the song] was to shock the viewers and I think the producers and the performers who were a part of the opening understood that it was going to go viral. My big concern is how many people out there are going to think that we actually ‘solved it’ with adding a few more diverse nominees here and there. Has Hollywood really turned a leaf towards inclusion? Or is this just a series of gestures to quiet critics temporarily and no lasting change is really truly affected?” says Dr. Tori Arthur, a Ph.D. in American Cultural studies.
The diversity and stereotype theme was echoed through the whole broadcast by co-hosts and SNL’s “Weekend Update” stars Colin Jost and Michael Che. These two joked throughout the entire night about stereotypes.
The hosts joked that even though the drama series, “ER,” won multiple Emmys in the past, the show was not realistic because it had never featured a Filipino nurse, a common stereotype people use. Later, Che mentioned the Emmy nominated show “Black-ish,” with the remark, “Black-ish is also how I was asked to behave tonight.”
“We have seen these stereotypes in every niche within media. I think that a lot of writers, animators and directors think they can get away with this stuff, but the truth is that it can be very insulting and there are a lot of black misrepresentation issues, stereotyping issues and diversity issues, over sexualization of women and many more… and people are paying attention,” says university professor Dani Castillo.
The Television Academy was obviously paying attention, too, as they have included more diverse nominees and hosts than any year prior. Sandra Oh, a Canadian born to Korean immigrants, received an award for Lead Actress for her role in “Killing Eve,” which makes her the first person of Asian descent to ever win an Emmy in its 70-year history. Oh has received five Emmy nominations in the past for her role as Christina Yang on “Grey’s Anatomy.” Many of her fans expressed that it was finally her time in the spotlight since she has spent much of her career playing less important characters. .
BREAKING NEW GROUND
“We haven’t really seen a character like Eve or someone like myself — an Asian person — play this kind of role before. I take that deeply into consideration. Because if that cuts through, it will have ripple effects. My greatest hope is that it will ripple through and demonstrate that there is a whole world of people who are storytellers and who can be storytellers. It doesn’t have to always remain in the white realm. That’s one of the things I know I represent,” Oh told the LA Times.
Other underrepresented groups were included in this year’s Emmys as well. Sterling K. Brown picked up two nominations for his role in the drama series “This Is Us,” and for his guest spot on “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.”
Lin-Manuel Miranda, an American composer, lyricist, playwright and more, was praised by the National Hispanic Media Coalition for his nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series, however the organization spoke out about the work that still lies ahead.
“We are 18% of the nation’s populations yet Latino actors have not risen beyond 6% on the television screens in the last seventeen years. We demand better representation,” said the group’s President and CEO, Alex Nogales.
Having and keeping the matter of diversity relevant in award shows allows Hollywood to be unprejudiced towards individuals. The end goal is to defeat stereotypes and labels in media and have equal representation. With the Emmys taking a leap into the right direction, stereotyping has been brought to the public’s attention, and with hope, will one day become obsolete.