The most surprising moment at the 2007 Emmy Awards came not from an envelope containing the name of a winner but from a speech viewers at home never heard. While accepting a Best Actress award for her show Brothers and Sisters, Sally Field made an obscenity-laced anti-war outburst, prompting Fox to cut away until she left the stage.
This middling controversy followed a more serious one from earlier in the week when the E! Entertainment Channel wisely decided to omit parts of Kathy Griffin's speech at the Creative Arts Emmys. After winning Best Reality Program for My Life on the D-List, the comedienne shouted out an obscenity to Jesus and exclaimed, "This award is my god now." Not surprisingly, news about this year's ceremonies subsequently focused on censorship rather than on the actual winners.
Whether FCC rules compel the networks to censor such outbursts is one question, but a more interesting one is why these actors don't have the good manners to censor themselves. While most industries are populated with people from both the left and right, Christians and atheists, rarely do they use professional gatherings as an opportunity to harangue one another about politics or insult each other's religions.
Why? Because most of us were taught that it is boorish to make everyone uncomfortable in a social situation. And because most people recognize that stirring up rancor at events designed to celebrate many is a bit selfish. Were Field's comments fair to the winners who came after her, whose victories were overshadowed by her haymaking? How many in the audience were tuned in enough after Griffin's jarring statements to give other writers, technicians, and directors their due?
Probably not many. And that's too bad for the behind-the-scenes professionals who earned their moments in the spotlight as much if not more than those big personalities who rudely rule the red carpet.