MSNBC Logic: Neil Patrick Harris May Be Secretly Racist Somehow

As left-wing as weekday MSNBC hosts can be, weekend MSNBC anchors wander off into the land of bizarre, humorless scolds. Anchor Melissa Harris-Perry on Saturday chided two celebrity liberals for possible bigotry and for not being liberal enough. After relating a comedy bit Neil Patrick Harris performed at last Sunday's Academy Awards, Harris-Perry lectured, "Not everyone appreciated the way that he did it." 

In the sketch, Harris jokingly asked African American actress Octavia Spencer to guard his Oscar picks. Somehow constructing potential racism, Perry connected, "Of course, he explained that the task required her diligence and undivided attention." The cable host quoted the liberal professor/blogger Roxane Gay for the inevitable conclusion. Gay tweeted, "Typical. Octavia Spencer plays a maid, wins an Oscar and then is expected to work at the ceremony." 

Another offense came from liberal actress Patricia Arquette, who used her Oscar acceptance speech to argue for equal pay for women. This was "heartfelt," according to the MSNBC host. But Arquette's crime came in a later comment when she said that it's time for "all the gay people and all the people of color that we've fought for to fight for us now." 

Harris-Perry fumed: 

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY: [Arquette's] post-show elaboration revealed showed a fundamental misunderstanding of a key feminist concept that marginal identities like gender, race, sexual orientation and class are not separate. They are fundamentally intersecting. 

Of course, this is the same person who famously wore tampon earrings in 2013 to make a point about abortion rights. 

A partial transcript of the February 28 segment is below: 

11:30

MELISSA HARRIS PERRY:  Last Sunday was the 87th annual Academy Awards. Few nominations went to people of color, earning the show the Twitter derision and hashtag #Oscarssowhite when the nominees were announced back in January. But host Neil Patrick Harris did recognize a few actors of color during the program. Not everyone appreciated the way that he did it. Harris's longest running bit of the night was with Octavia Butler. He asked Butler to help him watch his list of carefully guarded Oscar predictions. Of course, explained that the task required her diligence and undivided attention. He stipulated one rule in particular. Quote, "no snacks." Now, the ongoing joke stirred up discomfort from many Twitter users watching the show and prompted responses like this one from MSNBC correspondent Janet Mock: "Hey, #Oscars, #OctaviaSpencer is not #thehelp. You can watch that ballot box on your own." Or this from author and feminist thinker Roxanne Gay: "Typical. Octavia Spencer plays a maid, wins an Oscar and then is expected to work at the ceremony." 

But nothing sparked the ire of social media quite like the post-show statement best supporting actress winner Patricia Arquette made in the backstage press room, elaborating on the rallying cry she made for wage equality during her acceptance speech. She said it's inexcusable that we go around the world and we talk about equal rights for women in other countries and we don't. It's time for all women in America and all the men who love women and all the gay people and all the people of color that we've fought for to fight for us now." Arquette's speech during the award ceremony was heartfelt, but her post-show elaboration revealed showed a fundamental misunderstanding of a key feminist concept that marginal identities like gender, race, sexual orientation and class are not separate. They are fundamentally intersecting. Nerd Land friend Dave Zirin wrote, "What is so aggravating is that Ms. Arquette's comments could best be described as 'anti-intersectional.' It states pretty clearly that you see your struggle as one of straight, white, native-born women for equal pay, as if there aren't masses of people who live beneath the weight of multiple labels that would benefit from such reforms." [Laughs.] Well, now we're in my territory. Welcome to feminism 101! 

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