A look back at “Sounder” and successful performativity

A scene from the film “Sounder”

Earlier this month when Donald Glover won the Emmy Award for Best Actor in a Comedy Series (his second that night), he quipped, “I want to thank Trump for making black people number one on the most oppressed list. He’s the reason I’m probably up here.” It’s the sort of mildly disconcerting but still thought provoking thing you’d expect Glover to say. He won awards for directing and acting on the FX comedy “Atlanta,” which has a penchant for subversion. His remark underscored a theme throughout the night, the Emmy Awards depended on a virulent vocalisation of its anti-Trumpness.

Beyond the jarring appearance of Sean Spicer (Trump’s former Press Secretary), the night was decidedly anti-Trump, anti-conservatism, anti-white supremacy. The winners in key categories were notable for being against the norm. The first Asian man to win an acting Emmy in Riz Ahmed, the first black woman to win a writing award for comedy in Lena Waithe, the first black director to win for comedy with Glover, the first woman in almost three decades to win directing for a drama series in Reed Morano, and so on and so on. The wins were not just about representing, but seemed to be symbolic of the television’s academy’s stance. The wins were a way for voters to demonstrate their inclusive stance. ….


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