Inspecting the Emmy Nomination Controversy

Ambika Gupta, Managing Editor of Global

The 73rd Emmy Awards recognizes eight nominees for the “Outstanding Comedy Series – 2021” category of the ceremony. (Photo by

The Emmys recent nominations have been criticized as performative, attempts to appear politically correct in a society that increasingly welcomes a more diverse media. Before the awards were announced, the Emmy awards received praise as 44% of the performers nominated were people of color. Yet despite the fact that the 73rd Emmy Awards’s nominees were the most racially diverse, no actors of color were awarded any major trophies. 

The Emmys’ actions are simply a symptom of a larger issue within the media. Djasahn English ’23, BSU’s head of committee, commented that the Emmys actions “just feels performative” and how these performative gestures “happen everywhere in the media in general.” The Emmys are a chance for people of color to be represented and affirmed from a larger, respected organization from which they have historically been denied. 

The media offers a chance for audiences to view cultures separate from their own as well as create narratives that the general public absorbs. The representation within shows, movies, and literature of different communities can create unconscious bias that can affect how minority groups are treated. In a more personal angle, representation within mainstream media can offer people of color someone they can relate to and identify with. This connection can help foster more pride in their culture. 

Furthermore, this year’s Emmys sparked conversation about the media in general and the difference between representation and tokenism. Tokenism is the act of performing only a symbolic effort, without genuine motivations, and it frequently gives the appearance of diversity and acceptance. Within the media, token minority characters can be spotted as characters commonly sidelined, without a romantic plotline, or regulated to a sidekick position. 

Overall, the Emmys provided an opportunity for more representation. Despite the disappointment many felt due to the Emmys, within the media representation has grown in recent years. Shows and movies are more conscious of the audience’s desire for more diverse actors and stories and are acting upon it. This shows the power that consumers hold and their ability to change the media. Scrutinizing the media is necessary for change.