Why the Emmys and Sofia Vergara got it wrong last night

I like Sofia Vergara – in fact, I’m a huge fan of her’s, and think she’s a fantastic comedienne. Unfortunately, last night at the Emmys, she allowed herself to be used in yet another of the seemingly unending list of jokes that poke fun at her physical attributes. While Emmy chairman Bruce Rosenblum droned on about the Emmys, Vergara stood on a rotating platform – kinda like a mannequin. Well, maybe exactly like a mannequin. Because it’s Sofia Vergara, she did what she could with the bit with some nifty and subtle facial expressions to inject some irony into the silly bit, but overall, it was tone deaf, regressive, silly and dull.

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Folks have already taken to social media to voice their displeasure at the gratuitous display, and Vergara herself even defended the skit, scolding the scolds by saying we’re humorless and we just don’t get that one can be hot and funny and make fun of oneself all at the same time. I respectfully disagree. Like I said, Sofia Vergara is probably the funniest woman working on TV today – and to a certain extent, a lot of her comedy comes from her accent and her looks. But in the context of her show Modern Family, her comedic persona is given shading and depth (no, really, I promise). On Modern Family, Vergara’s Gloria is a sarcastic, articulate, and witty wonder, whose perfect comic timing works parallel with the sight gags she’s often subjected to; on the Emmy stage last night, all of that context is scrubbed away, and all we got was Vergara, looking hot, in a tight dress, being displayed for effect. And the lowest hanging fruit of this whole thing is that if you have Sofia Vergara, you don’t need to solely zero in on her looks, at the expense of her other talents; had this been a male comic, none of this nonsense would happen, no matter how good looking he is (though the rub is male comics are allowed more leeway when it comes to looks than their female colleagues). If given fun and smart material, Vergara could’ve done something much more substantial or profound and funny than just simply stand on a pedestal and rotate.

Some argue that the joke was ironic and satire. Yeah, well, then the joke didn’t land because you don’t get to be sexist and then say, “but wait a minute – we were being ironic” – sorry, hipsters try that line every day and it doesn’t work. Others will say that yet again, feminists are poo pooing on someone’s parade, bringing down our hammer of humorlessness. But I never bought into the idea that feminists aren’t funny – after all, Kathy Griffin, Whoopi Goldberg, Tina Fey, Lily Tomlin, and Kathy Najimy are all hilarious funny feminists who don’t deny their physical beauty nor their comedic talents – they work hand-in-hand. And that’s the case for most of Vegara’s work, too – she’s a combo of both Ricky and Lucy. But last night was a misstep in an otherwise hilarious career.

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Filed under Celeb, Comedy, commentary, Nonfiction, Sitcom, Television

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