On Sunday, Reba McEntire hosted the 53rd Academy Of Country Music Awards (not to be confused with the Country Music Awards happening in May) — for her 15th time.
The singer, actress, and new face of Kentucky Fried Chicken is a natural entertainer, joking about her hair, her age, and... the inherent sexism of being a woman in the country music industry. And from the clips from the show, it's unclear if McEntire's woke moments actually resonated with the men in attendance, nestled beneath their oversized cowboy hats, and sipping from their plastic solo cups. McEntire tried to channel Natalie Portman at the Golden Globes, but did the men, and the audience members at home, even get it?
For the slim overlapping area on the Venn Diagram of People Who Watch The Golden Globes and People Who Watch The ACM Awards, this isn't the first time that the country show has poked fun at Hollywood and their viral award show moments. Last year, the ACMs mocked the Oscargate Best Picture fiasco. But this year, McEntire, who vowed to keep things light and not political, still found the need to mention the lack of female performers nominated for the big awards. Why? Because she is a woman who has been in the industry for four decades who often finds herself "fighting for the girls to get in there for entertainer of the year."
McEntire' first jab mocked the hosting abilities of her recent predecessors, which happened to be pairs of men.“I guess they figured out that it only takes one woman to do the job of two men,” she said, specifically singling out Luke Bryan, Dierks Bentley, and Blake Shelton, all seated in the audience. For that one, she received a standing ovation from both men and women, and the cameras panned around the audience to show Shelton and Gwen Stefani standing up to cheer at the joke.
Next, McEntire poked fun at herself and Carrie Underwood (arguably the two most notable women in the room, next to Nicole Kidman) before delivering, what should have been, her big zinger of the night. “Have you seen the entertainer of the year category?" she asks the audience, receiving a few cheers. "Five men... no women." For the most part, the crowd is silent, but a few women could be heard screaming out "Booo..."
But which women? We'd never know. The cameras never panned out to the crowd to show the real reaction of the room. Were some women standing and showing their frustration with a totally female-free category? I'm sure Kidman did her signature clap and nodded along. Were any men rolling their eyes at McEntire calling that fact out? Was CBS like, sure, make your woman joke, but then follow it up with another joke so we don't get too serious? I feel like it was a combination of all three, because immediately after her potential mic-drop moment, McEntire pivoted back to the ripple-free lane, adding "Looks like singles night at the Holiday Inn," as a palette cleanser.
One review of her opening monologue on The Boot, a country blog, mentioned all her other big jokes, expect for this moment. People has a post about her red dress, but nothing about this. Even after McEntire stands on stage and calls it out, no one is paying attention to it, even though it's an industry-wide issue. How can you fix something that no one acknowledges as a problem? The best part of the recent award shows have been the powerful moments in which women are given the mic to speak their mind, and encourage other women, or take bold digs at their male colleagues. I only wish McEntire's moment was given the same amount of attention by her peers and fans.