Michelle Wolf’s Blistering Trump Takedown Is One More Sign That Nothing Matters
It wouldn't be the White House Correspondents' Dinner without misplaced outrage
This weekend, a female comedian told jokes about Donald Trump, his cabinet, and the media that breathlessly covers both. Some of the jokes were very funny! Others were only okay. In other words, it was a typical stand up set.
Only, this wasn’t a typical stand up set. This was the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, where media elite and Washington movers and shakers get all dressed up and play nice with each other, so that everyone can feel like stars at a morally questionable Golden Globes ceremony. The awards comparison is apt, too, because like hosting the Oscars, telling jokes at the correspondent’s dinner is a pretty thankless task. Either your jokes are toothless, and you are forgotten, or your jokes are deemed mean-spirited and you are criticized from all sides…until the act is forgotten.
Michelle Wolf’s monologue clearly qualifies as an example of the latter. Over the past few days she’s been roundly attacked for using offensive language and insulting the looks of Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Her set was so mean, in fact, that the president of the White House Correspondents’ Association released a statement apologizing for the harm Wolf—only the fourth woman to be given this job—unleashed on some of the world’s most powerful people.
Only she didn’t insult anyone’s looks. And her language was only offensive if you never listen to the President of the United States. But why let the truth stand in the way of outrage?
Which is really the only lesson you can take from this whole ordeal: nothing actually matters.
I don’t mean that in a nihilistic kind of way. Obviously, politics and policies matter. Free speech matters. In theory, the truth matters. But, when it comes to commentary and online reaction: that’s a tall can of Nope. Responses from both sides are basically pre-ordained, as predictable as a Pavlovian response. Some examples:
1. Nothing matters because people are angry at Wolf, and praising Sarah Huckabee Sander’s bravery and grace, even though Wolf never insulted SHS’s looks. She insulted her integrity.
2. Nothing matters because apparently insulting a woman’s makeup is way more harsh than calling out someone’s tendency to lie and mislead the American public.
3. Nothing matters because what, it’s expected that press secretaries will lie? But it’s not expected that they’ll apply smokey eye shadow appropriately?
4. Nothing matters because no matter how often it’s pointed out that The President says worse—including and especially about women’s looks—it’s easier to be outraged by a comedian who, chances are, most people hadn’t heard of before that night.
5. Nothing matters because President Trump won’t comment on news stories showing blatant racial discrimination and violence, but he will tweet about jokes he didn’t like, and no matter how many times this sort of thing happens, his fans still believe he’s the best President since Lincoln.
Although, that being said, if Omarosa was right and it was Barack Obama’s insults toward Trump at the 2012 White House Correspondents’ Dinner that caused the latter to run for president, then maybe what Michelle Wolf said will make some kind of difference. It’s just a pity that Sarah Huckabee Sanders is going to be the first female president now.
You can watch Wolf’s entire set here.
It’s only a little uncomfortable.