Seth Rogen at the Emmys: Why are we all maskless in this small, enclosed indoor space?

Between this and the Met Gala, it seems that America’s celebrities have already entered the age of endemic COVID. It’s never going away so you might as well get your shots and get back to normal in the expectation that you’ll get infected eventually and probably won’t need to go to the ER.


In other words, we’ve reached the point where we either mask forever or decide that masks are optional.

For everyone. Not just for celebrities.

Red State has a long stream of photos of guests unmasked inside. Obama’s birthday party on Martha’s Vineyard was also held in a tent, which allows those who can afford one to claim that they’re technically “outdoors” when they’re not. Not coincidentally, L.A. County requires masks for indoor events but only “strongly recommends” them for crowded outdoor ones. The point of holding an event outdoors is to maximize ventilation; enclosing the outdoor space obviously defeats the purpose. The rich are treating tents as a loophole.

But the Emmys did take two important precautions that Obama and his event organizers also took. They required proof of vaccination and a recent negative test in order to attend. If that’s not enough to render an indoor event safe (enough) when COVID is endemic then we’re resigning ourselves to masking in perpetuity.

Rather than host the telecast inside a venue like Staples or its usual home at the Microsoft Theater, organizers refashioned the L.A. Live event deck into Emmy Awards headquarters. A tented and air-conditioned structure hosted attendees in a gala-style format with tables as opposed to rows of individual seats. The setting, per the TV Academy, was done as a way to accommodate more socially distant seating and to keep nominees in groups…

While there were guests in attendance, all of whom were instructed to wear masks during commercial breaks, the crowd did not compare to the 7,000 or so that can typically fill the Microsoft Theater. Invites were scaled back as a way to keep the headcount lower than a “normal” year, meaning that nominated teams consisting of three or more were limited to no more than four tickets per nomination…

Those who checked out preshow streams and broadcasts may have noticed fewer journalists on the red carpet, too. The TV Academy scaled back credentialed media as another protocol to keep capacity tight. Major broadcast outlets and only a handful of print journalists were allowed to report live from Sunday’s show.


Nominees who live overseas were unable to attend in person due to America’s travel ban. But in another nod to the fact that COVID is now endemic, the White House announced this morning that that ban is being lifted in November for vaccinated travelers. After all, if we’re not willing to let the vaccinated visit the U.S. now, then when? The virus is here to stay.

I think “celebrities should have been masking too!” is a bad take from last night. Janice Dean’s take is better:

At a minimum, every mask mandate in the U.S. should offer an exemption for events where proof of vaccination and a recent negative test are required for entry. If a school mandates vaccines for its students *and* tests them regularly, there’s no reason kids should be saddled with having to mask, especially when most of them will be wearing flimsy cloth masks that do little to limit transmission. Frankly, given how well kids do with COVID, a vaccine mandate should justify letting them unmask even if they’re not being tested regularly.

But I’d be careful about assuming what lessons Americans will draw from seeing the beautiful people hobnobbing maskless last night. Will most think “if it’s safe for them, it’s safe for me” and relax their own masking behavior? I’m skeptical, for the simple reason that the precautions each of us takes against COVID seems to be driven mainly by our individual sense of risk tolerance more so than by modeling what others are doing. That’s one of the shining lessons from the great mask-mandate debate: State mask mandates don’t influence adults’ behavior much because the risk-averse are going to mask anyway while the risk-tolerant weren’t paying much attention to the mandate in the first place. Despite the media attention to events like Obama’s party and Lollapalooza, both of which went off without becoming superspreader events due to vax-and-test rules, Americans have grown more likely to mask up and social-distance recently than they were earlier in the summer.


They’re letting the spread of Delta inform their behavior, not what Obama and his rich friends are doing. Celebrity hypocrisy may annoy and occasionally even enrage the average joe but he’s not going to change his COVID strategy based on whether the cast of “Ted Lasso” was making last night.

Which isn’t to say that that hypocrisy should be excused. Most of those celebs will be given a pass by fellow travelers on the left who’d eagerly lambaste a gathering of conservatives that went maskless indoors, vaccinated or not. I’ll leave you with this viral clip of AOC swanning about barefaced in her “Tax the Rich” dress before the Met Gala while the masked-up hoi polloi around her look on.

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