After wantonly lying to the American public for six straight months, former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has already been forgiven. And he didn’t even have to say I’m sorry.
Spicer made a surprise cameo appearance at last night Emmys, much to the delight of the audience’s supposedly anti-Trump elites and the chagrin of everyone who had to watch this shit at home. After wheeling onto the stage with an SNL-inspired moving podium, Spicer was rewarded with generous rounds of liberal applause and a bemused Melissa McCarthy GIF.
It’s more than just the Emmys. “Spicey” has escaped punishment precisely because we’ve turned him into a slapstick pop culture meme, then absolved his crimes with a no-need-for-forgiveness tour.
Humans commit crimes, human GIFs don’t.
If the audience at last night’s Emmy’s had a problem with Sean Spicer’s appearance, they sure didn’t show it. Spicer’s riff verifying the size the crowd inspired a few faux horrified reaction shots and cacophonous rounds of laughter. His bit was pure tragedy: as Press Sectary, Sean Spicer inflated the size of Trump’s inauguration crowd to protect the president’s dangerously narcissistic ego. Artists in the audience, most of them wealthy and unaffected by the Trump administration, instead treated the whole experience as raw comedy.
— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) September 18, 2017
— Chris Gardner (@chrissgardner) September 18, 2017
Forget the consequences of his crimes: his egregious deception made for great live TV.
Crowds backstage greeted Spicer with even more warmth, even those who might hashtag themselves as members of the anti-Trump resistance. Pop politician James Corden, whose version of political activism is dancing with Michelle Obama in a car, went so far as to kiss Sean Spicer on the check. Twitter, not the media and cultural elites who actually have power to stop him, rightly accused the show’s producers of normalizing fascism.
The encore for this guy continues. After last night Emmys, Sean Spicer will be headed to the Harvard’s prestigious Kennedy school on a visiting fellowship. What he’ll actually lecture about is irrelevant: students in a social justice school should never trust a man who brazenly lied about Trump’s Muslim ban by refusing to call it a ban, who didn’t know that Hitler gassed his own people and who otherwise served as a willing servant in a proto-fascist administration.
Of course, that’s all before Spicey chooses to sign one of the many lucrative television contracts that’s reportedly on that way. Hope everyone enjoys Dancing with the former Members of the Trump administration.
None of this should come as a surprise. Members of the Bush administration who lied about weapons of mass destruction and defended torture have all made a graceful return to civil society. Some have even gained coveted contributing commentary positions on members of the #NeverTrump resistance on MSNBC. George W. Bush has been turned into a silly viral listicle because lol, I guess the Iraq war wasn’t that big a deal, lol lol, look at Grandpa paint!
They’re all making bets that we’re indifferent to their crimes, and everywhere you go — they’re winning.
Part of Spicey and all of these men’s renaissance can be blamed on the shortness of our historical attention span. When so many tragedies are happening every single day, it’s hard to keep them all fresh or stay that consistently outraged.
And it’s so much easier to cope when our brains quietly forgive. If some members of the Trump administration can be seen as innocuous, well, then nothing about our life or the way we view the world has to dramatically change. Good guys can work in neo-fascist administrations. Neo-fascist administrations aren’t dangerous, they’re just “the other side.” We can all go on with our lives as before, without guilt.
38.8% of the American public — millions and millions of people — don’t think anything bad is happening at all.
Around these parts, all is forgiven if you’re entertaining and yes, it helps if you’re white and male. Hillary Clinton has spent the last week being dragged by members of the media elite for failing to apologize enough in What Happened (she did it 48 times). Sean Spicer, on the other hand, was just given a whole new career in entertainment.
Good things come to buffoonish men who wait.
Good things come to buffoonish men who wait.
All of these seemingly symbolic gestures — a cameo here, a fellowship here — carry enormous political weight.
Sean Spicer isn’t a joke to the mother who had to say goodbye to her four children after being stopped for a traffic violation.
He’s not a GIF to the orphan refugees now stuck in camps, unable to meet their adoptive families.
Spicey isn’t a meme to the kid who doesn’t know if she’ll be sent back to a country she hardly remembers.
By inviting Spicer on stage last night, CBS communicated an unconscious message to morally compromised men like him: no matter what you do, you’ll be forgiven.
We can’t stop Sean Spicer. But the least we can do — from wherever we’re sitting — is stop applauding.
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