[This post contains spoilers for tonight’s episode of The Masked Singer.]
So…Kind of a weird one tonight, huh?
Indeed: On a night where numerous television programs, sports leagues, major industry events, and the government as a whole all seemed to finally, collectively acknowledge that responses to the COVID-19 coronavirus need to be drastically stepped up—on an evening where a shirtless Chet Haze was forced to address the nation, reassuring us that his beloved parents Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson are “not trippin’” about their infection with the disease—the world, as a whole is feeling a little unsteady. Clearly, we need something to get us back on our proper footing, a sign that, despite the strangeness and disorder seemingly and suddenly infesting every walk of life, the universe is still a fundamentally good and rational place.
Instead, we got this:
For those of you whose eyes and ears were unwilling or able to register the content of the above video, that’s former Alaskan governor/harbinger of our current political mess Sarah Palin, standing in a bear costume, and serenading a grateful nation with an admittedly passable rendition of Sir Mix-A-Lot’s ode to asses, “Baby Got Back.” As we noted in our weekly post on the series, this clip comes to us courtesy of The Masked Singer, which appears to have taken Sean Spicer’s tenure on Dancing With The Stars as some kind of dare, presenting what may very well be the ultimate sanitization of an odious political figure as part of its running thesis that literally all celebrities are functionally the same once you drop a big, elaborate mask on top of their heads.
For what it’s worth, Palin herself is clearly in on the joke, which might best be translated into the following format:
Sarah Palin who?
Sarah Palin, who helped normalize a sort of right-wing personality-based rhetoric that replaced policy with “attitude,” signalling the increasing reality-show-ification of the American political system, but who is now, herself, appearing on a reality show, so that’s feeling pretty strange, on a night where the world was already feeling off-kilter, and also she’s in a bear suit and shouting the word “Sprung!” with Nick Cannon.
And it’s okay. We feel it, too: The sense that it’s all coming undone, as Sarah Palin screams in our ears about a “round thing in your face,” and Naomi Campbell models her coronavirus chic, and the eye of Chet Haze’s chest tattoo pierces deep inside our very hearts. It’s like a headache but for the soul, a sense that maybe it’s not going to all turn out okay this time. But it’s also in times like these that we have to remember the words of a wise, wise man—too wise, possibly, to even own a shirt. Tom Hanks isn’t trippin’. Neither can we—even when a former vice presidential candidate invites America to come together to “shake that healthy butt.”