Debra Messing: Saving the world, one red carpet at a time

This year’s red carpet

It goes without saying that sexual abuse is a despicable crime. But how many of the men who walked the Golden Globes red carpet this year had their own dark secrets? How many of the women owed their success, at least in part, to decisions to yield to sexual aggression by powerful producers or directors or stars – and to keep quiet about it? As the scale of the sex abuse scandal ballooned over the last few months, many people wondered how Hollywood, once awards season came, would deal with its shame.

Debra Messing before the big show

After all, they’ve been posing for decades as pillars of virtue, lecturing to the American public in their projects and in their talk-show appearances. Surely the scandal would embarrass them, mortify them. How, under such circumstances, could they go through with their annual self-celebration? What’s clear now is that Hollywood doesn’t have any shame – these people’s egos are so massive, their sense of superiority to the hoi polloi so unshakable, that even now they still feel perfectly comfortable preaching into the cameras.

Which brings us back to Will and Grace star Debra Messing, whose recent turn to outspoken political activism we began discussing on Tuesday. Listening to her red-carpet rant, you’d have thought, for a second, that you were witnessing some revolutionary gathering of the downtrodden rather than a glamorous black-tie event for some of the most privileged people on earth. You’d have thought that Messing was standing not on a red carpet but on some barricade out of Les Miz. As we noted on Tuesday, she called for “intersectional gender parity.” How many viewers who’d tuned in seeking diversion from their real-life problems knew what on earth Messing was talking about? “Intersectional gender parity”? It was not only obnoxious and inappropriate, but also wildly pretentious.

Harvey Weinstein

Plainly, Messing, like so many of her showbiz colleagues, wants to be seen as a spokesperson for ordinary women and people of color and poor folks generally; she wants the world to see her as a great big heart overflowing with sensitivity and sympathy for those less fortunate than herself. But how many of the real-life people for whom she pretends to speak have any idea what “intersectional” means? Has the question ever crossed Messing’s mind? This, folks, is precisely the essence of Hollywood radicalism these days: it’s not remotely about the limousine set identifying with the rabble or wanting to help improve their lot; it’s about showbiz luminaries virtue signaling to one another.

Ronan Farrow

Naturally, the mainstream media loved it. For example, NBC News called Messing’s comments “fearless” and “powerful.” Now, NBC News, it will be remembered, is the news organization for which Ronan Farrow prepared his exposé on Harvey Weinstein – the sensational story that kicked off the whole Hollywood sex scandal. It will also be remembered that NBC News, which is now so eager to praise people like Messing as “fearless” and “powerful,” was itself too timid to run Farrow’s story itself – which was why it ended up being published in the New Yorker. Ah, the courage!

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