At Sunday night’s untelevised Writers Guild Awards, Kathy Griffin smiled through ongoing anger about the lack of Hollywood defenders she has had during the colossal public outcry that resulted from a 2017 photo shoot. On May 30, a picture in which Griffin appeared to be holding President Donald Trump’s severed head was shared on her social media accounts. In response, Griffin received death threats and was quickly fired as co-host of CNN’s annual New Year’s Eve telecast.
“It’s me, Kathy Griffin — I got a haircut and I lost my career in a day, hi!,” she began, taking the Beverly Hilton’s International Ballroom stage to present the night’s animation award. “I just want to thank all the powerful writers and show runners in this room for fucking no support, where the fuck have you been?…I was supposed to thank everyone for their support, and no one [lifted] their finger.” (During her ordeal, Griffin’s champions did include Jim Carrey and Alec Baldwin.)
Griffin offered her personal backlash — following a career of “little fights [that] nobody gives a shit about” — as a cautionary tale. “I want you to learn from my experience, honestly: if you think it can’t happen to you, it can, and it can happen like that,” she said, snapping her fingers. “You may have hated that photo and that’s okay, but if one of your 12-year-old kids puts it on Twitter, they shouldn’t have to be under a two-month federal investigation, be on the No Fly List, and the Interpol list.”
She voiced her additional frustration that she was never able to count herself among the guild’s 9,081 members, despite being the Guinness World Record-holding comedian for recording the most specials, 23: “I’ve been writing for shitty, low-budget cable my whole career, because as you know, when you try to get on a union show, the network says no. And when you’re a woman and you’re 57, they say no and then they call the White House, and then they call the Department of Justice, it’s a whole thing.”
The reason why Griffin was so prolific, she said, was “I really felt like younger women would think like, Oh, if that old bitch can do it anybody can. But I wished I would have been you. I’m not in this union, I would love to be in this union. But I hope that…someday we can bridge that gap between like the cable world that wants to be the union shows but can’t afford them, and those so many of us that want to be in the union, but because of maybe age or gender, or whatever, we just can’t get those opportunities.”
Griffin concluded by acknowledging that she was, in earnest, “very honored to be here,” and a lifelong fan of good writing, particularly in the Kardashian age.