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!

Don’t mess with Debra Messing!

Born in 1968, Debra Messing has had a stellar acting career. Her breakthrough role on the NBC sitcom Will and Grace (1998-2006) led, via a series of supporting roles in obscure movies and one-shot performances on various TV series, to her triumphant current gig in, um, the retread of the NBC sitcom Will and Grace (2017-).

Debra Messing

Okay, we won’t knock her career. Let’s face it, she’s been lucky. However horrible Will and Grace was (and is), the residuals certainly can’t be anything to sneeze at. Still, to those who aren’t Will and Grace fans, Messing is probably best known for her recent forays into political commentary. In a relatively brief time, she’s become quite the nag. In the spring of 2016, when actress Susan Sarandon, a longtime feminist and leftist radical, expressed her lack of enthusiasm for the presidential candidacy of Hillary Clinton and suggested that the country might be better off under Donald Trump, Messing was outraged, writing on Twitter: “Wonder if she’d say that if she were poor, gay, Muslim or imm[i]gr[a]nt.”

Blake Shelton

That was just the beginning. In July, after country singer Blake Shelton told an interviewer that “Whether you love [Trump] or hate him, he says what he thinks, and he has proven that you don’t always have to be so afraid,” Messing was – again – outraged, accusing him of supporting an enemy of women’s rights. (Shelton explained that he wasn’t supporting either Trump or Hillary.)

Susan Sarandon

Following Trump’s election, it was back to Sarandon again, who opined on Twitter that progressives needed to “reach out in dialogue to those who voted 4 [Trump]. We can’t afford a blanket judgement [sic] of them. We need allies in that camp. Possible.” Once again, Messing went berserk: “JESUS CHRIST. NOW she wants to give racist, islamophobic, homophobic, sexist, mysogynists a chance! ‘Pure’ 4 Bernie. F*** everyone else.”

For years, Messing pretty much kept her mouth shut except when reading lines penned for her by screenwriters. Now – well, we suppose that thanks to Will and Grace she has pockets full of “F*** you” money and is now taking advantage of this financial independence to try to out-Lena Dunham Lena Dunham. Earlier this month, while being interviewed by a reporter for the E! network on the red carpet at the Golden Globe Awards, Messing served up a shrill demand: “Time is up. We want diversity and we want intersectional gender parity!” She proceeded, according to NBC News, “to demand more diversity among workplaces, emphasizing women of color, and a gender balance of ’50/50 by 2020.’”

Lena Dunham at a Golden Globes afterparty

Messing wasn’t the only political activist on the red carpet. Far from it. The Golden Globes ceremony, after all, was the first major Hollywood awards show of the season since the industry’s biggest scandal of all time kicked into high gear a few months ago, with one powerful industry figure after another being brought down by accusations of sexual harassment and abuse. The result has been a hashtag campaign – #metoo – on behalf of the victims and, at the Golden Globes, a purported display of solidarity in the form of black gowns (for the women) and stylish “Time’s Up!” buttons (for the men), meaning that the era of male sexual predation in Hollywood was supposedly over.

Almost all of those attending the ceremony, in short, were – at least in their own minds – bold heroes, tireless activists. But none of them outdid Messing. More on Thursday.