At last night’s Emmy Awards, Sofia Vergara introduced the chairman of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, Bruce Rosenblum, who was tasked with making the requisite speech about the increasing importance of television. Sure, these segments are always a little snoozy, so the Emmy producers came up with what I’m sure they thought was a really fun idea—have Rosenblum invite the sexy “Modern Family” star to step up onto a pedestal that then rotated 360 degrees while Rosenblum delivered his speech.
Vergara has never been one to shy away from moments where she has the opportunity to flaunt her assets—every red carpet interview features a shimmy and shake, and a wink—and she played along with the gag, which ended with Rosenblum saying, “What truly matters is that we never forget that our success is based on always giving the viewer something compelling to watch.”
And that’s about when folks on Twitter reacted with an “Excuse me?” Even Katie Couric.
The audience just clapped for Sofia Vergara’s butt while she rotated on a disc. That Beyonce feminist moment on the VMAs was pretty cool.
— Vulture (@vulture) August 26, 2014
I wish they did that rotating Sofia Vergara joke with a guy.
— kelly oxford (@kellyoxford) August 26, 2014
I love @SofiaVergara but did anyone find that schtick somewhat offensive?
— Katie Couric (@katiecouric) August 26, 2014
Now, it’s completely fair to say—as some on Twitter helpfully have pointed out—that Vergara was most assuredly in on the joke here. She even quipped “Enough, enough—that’s why I stopped doing the car shows!” as she climbed off the pedestal.
Speaking with reporters after the show who asked if she thought the bit was sexist, she said, “I think it’s absolutely the opposite,” she said. “It means someone can be hot and also be funny and make fun of herself and enjoy and work and make money, so I absolutely think it’s ridiculous. And somebody who started this, and I know who she was, has no sense of humor and should lighten up a little bit!”
Well, I don’t know who she is, but I think this bit was a perfect example of how completely out of touch the world of more “established” entertainment still seems. Sure, Julianna Marguiles may say that it’s a “wonderful time for women on television,” but if this is what it means to celebrate women on television, I’m not sure how to feel. It doesn’t matter who’s “in on the joke”—it matters that the joke is still the joke, and it arguably set women back about 50 years. Aren’t there other smarter jokes we can be making? Maybe, say, a joke about how sexist this bit came off?
Compare the Emmys, for example, with the MTV VMA Awards, where just 24 hours earlier, Beyonce delivered a 16-minute showcase centered on female empowerment which featured excerpts from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s powerful speech entitled “We should all be feminists.”
Sure, it’s a joke meant in humor—not unlike a lot of other jokes that aren’t meant to be taken seriously, but are symptomatic of a much bigger problem that runs deep in the world of entertainment. Ladies and gents, this is why we should all be feminists.