Sofia Vergara doesn't mind being the butt of the joke—literally.
The Colombian-American actress, 42, stood on a rotating platform during a 66th Primetime Emmy Awards speech given by Bruce Rosenblum, president of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, who explained with a wink: "We never forget that our success is based on always giving the viewer something compelling to watch."
Showcasing her comedic chops, the Roberto Cavalli-clad Modern Family star hammed it up on stage. While the audience roared with laughter, many bloggers were appalled to see her put on a pedestal.
"Do better, everyone," Jezebel wrote. "After all, you don't want to make Julianna Margulies a liar: she won Lead Actress in a Drama and immediately said, 'What a wonderful time for women on television.'" The website argued that Vergara "was treated like a literal object" and included several viewers' tweets.
Think Progress was similarly critical, writing, "I was distracted by the utterly tone-deaf, cringe-inducing spectacle that was the over-the-top objectification of a woman who is far, far funnier than the 'I'm not from this country, but look how hot I am!' material she's typically given. Vergara is obviously complicit in her objectification, and maybe she's really enjoying it, but that doesn't make the optics any less discomfiting." Time, meanwhile, wrote, "Though the gimmick might have turned into a commentary on how Hollywood actresses are hypersexualized and objectified, the second beat of the joke never came."
"The moment's unsavoriness, presenting a successful actress as nothing more than a body to ogle, was compounded by its timing; accepting the award for best variety series moments earlier, Stephen Colbert thanked his 'one woman' writer. 'Sorry for that, for some reason,' he said. It's so difficult to deduce the reasons why women might feel discouraged from putting themselves forward as talents in the television industry, based on the fact that even a multiple nominee at the Emmys ends up getting taken for an embarrassing ride, one that goes around and around endlessly and to diminishing effect," Salon argued.
Refinery29 took a similar stance, writing, "If watching this makes you uncomfortable, that's because it should. This portion of the presentation had one purpose—to use Vergara's stunning beauty and ethnicity as a hot object while the white guy did his bit. Perhaps this was a poor attempt at a joke. Or, perhaps you were waiting for Vergara to step down in the middle of his speech and give him a piece of her mind, because how dare he? You know, something more in line with the actress' M.O. Instead, we see her a willing participant in a clip that feels not from this decade—or from this century, for that matter."
Vergara, for her part, saw nothing wrong with the routine.
Asked if the segment was demeaning, she told reporters, "I think it's absolutely the opposite. It means someone can be hot and also be funny and make fun of herself and enjoy and work and make money, so I absolutely think it's ridiculous. And somebody who started this, and I know who she was, has no sense of humor and should lighten up a little bit!" The star did not reveal the identity of the person she believes started the uproar.
Modern Family won Outstanding Comedy Series for the fifth consecutive year.
Tune in tonight at 8 p.m. for a special VMA and Emmys edition of Fashion Police!