With the News On My Mind, Can I Get Excited About the Emmy Awards?

With the News On My Mind, Can I Get Excited About the Emmy Awards?

My friend emailed me to remind me to make my Emmy predictions for our annual awards night pool. Money is on the line! Also, the all important bragging rights. I just can't get it up for the game this year, though.

I typically enjoy the Emmy Awards because I love television, and I really adore the few nights a year that we all can watch and live Tweet television programs together, time zones be damned. Pop culture is my only sport. An amazing year of programming means the event this year will be star-studded (alright alright alright), and I have some strong opinions about who should win in many categories (cough Julia Louis-Dreyfus/William H. Macy/Kevin Spacey cough).

Emmy Statuettes in Plastic Wrap
Image: Globe Photos/ZUMAPRESS.com

But as the great showrunner Wordsworth once said, the world is too much with us. I'm not sure how to fit a night of glam and celebrating those who, by definition, are already celebrated into what is a heavy summer and especially troubling month of challenging news.

The big snag is that when awards shows were waning in appeal, Twitter rescued them. The much-touted new water cooler of Twitter has become a fun way to experience television with other fans and with the stars themselves. Who does Lena Dunham see while she's there? What's on Kerry Washington's mind? They are bound to tell us or Instagram it. Monday's show is simulcast, too, so we can all be in it together with no worries about spoiling anything for the West Coast.

This is as good as Tweetable TV gets.

Twitter, though, has been my go-to source for news about the events in the Middle East and, especially right now, about Ferguson. My feed is full of ground reporting, links, opinions, conversations, laments and wisdom about this particular crisis and how it informs race relations in our country. If I add red carpet fascination on Emmy night, one of these things is not like the others.

More importantly, I don't want the important conversations that have been prompted to dry up. I want to keep attention focused on the important square of racism and justice. 

I believe we can hold many things in our heads and hearts at one time, and further know that entertainment is vital to our resilience in the long run. That's one of the reasons television is important to me. The other is that television reflects and shapes our culture, and as a prevailing and accessible media form is worthy of our attention. It matters to me who receives attention, what trends are evident, and what the industry supports. The actual awards celebration might be the part that I'm having trouble embracing right now.

Live television can be healing, though, especially in its ability to unite us, so maybe the Emmy Awards is exactly what we need. I remember being baffled when Saturday Night Live was scheduled to return to live broadcasting in the wake of 9/11. How would they possibly pull a live comedy show off, right there in New York City? They did magnificently, and again after Sandy Hook by memorably opening with a children's choir, and then throughout the shows made it okay for all of us to take a deeper breath while laughing. This Emmy awards show in particular will take on honoring the life of Robin Williams, with Billy Crystal preparing to present. Perhaps in general the broadcast will be on point and meaningful in other ways, too.

I don't know yet. Social media is changing everything about how we process the world and organize our brains. Our streams are full of contrasts on a daily basis, with news of a death followed by first day of school photos and ridiculous ads featuring the opinions butts might have about toilet paper if butts could talk. Is there room for my swooning rooting for Emmys for Robin Wright, Kate Mulgrew and Tony Hale, too? Probably, but I'm just not sure yet.

Seth Meyers will host the 66th Primetime Emmy™ Awards on NBC Monday night, August 25th.

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