Updated: Feb 26
By: Sara Stolzenberg-Myer
Art by Angelica Basilio
Last week following the release of this year's Golden Globe nominations, we have been yet again reminded of how white supremacy continues to dominate our society. As Emily in Paris, a show that has faced much criticism for being both a projection of American arrogance and completely lacking any sort of diverse representation, was nominated for 2 Golden Globes. Meanwhile, the powerful and evocative show I May Destroy You received zero nominations. Before anyone else could express the outrage, one of the main writers for Emily in Paris, Deborah Copaken, took to the internet to express her own disgust in the matter: “ I could definitely see how a show about a white American selling luxury whiteness, in a pre-pandemic Paris scrubbed free of its vibrant African and Muslim communities, might rankle. Our show also aired soon after I read Caste by Isabel Wilkerson and gobbled down Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You, a work of sheer genius about the aftermath of a rape....
'That show,' I told everyone who would listen, 'deserves to win all the awards...'
....Now, am I excited that Emily in Paris was nominated? Yes. Of course. I’ve never been remotely close to seeing a Golden Globe statue up close, let alone being nominated for one. But that excitement is now unfortunately tempered by my rage over Coel’s snub. That I May Destroy You did not get one Golden Globe nod is not only wrong, it’s what is wrong with everything.”
In Copaken's words, it is whats wrong with everything. Copaken added, “I May Destroy You was not only my favorite show of 2020. It’s my favorite show ever. It takes the complicated issue of a rape — I’m a sexual assault survivor myself — and infuses it with heart, humor, pathos and a story constructed so well, I had to watch it twice, just to understand how Coel did it.”
Upon I May Destroy You’s airing, there was a huge influx of praise. Michaela Cole, who both stars in the show and wrote for it, is said to have created a masterpiece in which complicated issues of race, gender, and class are explored as the show follows a young woman carrying on after a traumatic sexual assault incident. Michaela Cole pushes boundaries by being extremely vulnerable but also manages to bring in elements of humor and lightness. The show was widely recognized and applauded for its boldness and vulnerability, and yet, has been completely snubbed out of the Golden Globe nominations.
There is a long history of award shows following this same pattern, but one might have thought after this year and the immense activism that erupted, that things would have changed at least a little bit.
Not only have Black creators been so often excluded from being recognized in awards shows and beyond, but they also are often the very people who established the culture for which these white creators are profiting off of. Going back to times of minstrelsy, where white folks literally dressed in Black face and profited off of appropriating their stereotypical behaviors, it is clear that American popular culture is built off of Black culture and Black creators. White people, however, appropriate that behavior, and get recognized for it time and time again.