Tina Fey has been thinking a lot about dignity in the face of Donald Trump’s presidential election victory.
Fey spoke with retired late-night host David Letterman for a wide-ranging interview in honor of the Hollywood Reporter awarding Fey its annual Sherry Lansing Leadership Award.
Letterman began the interview by saying he felt “anxious” after Trump’s presidential win last month and asked Fey how she felt about the incoming administration.
Fey said she first looked to the award’s namesake, Lansing, for inspiration. The women had worked together when Fey was writing the movie “Mean Girls” and Lansing was the CEO of Paramount Pictures.
“She was a lady who worked in a very, very ugly business and always managed to be quite dignified,” Fey said. “But in a world where the president makes fun of handicapped people and fat people, how do we proceed with dignity?”
Fey was referring to remarks Trump had made throughout his campaign and as an entertainer.
Fey had two recommendations: “I want to tell people, ‘If you do two things this year, watch ‘Idiocracy’by Mike Judge and read [Nazi filmmaker] Leni Riefenstahl’s 800-page autobiography [‘Leni Riefenstahl: A Memoir’] and then call it a year.”
Letterman asked for more information on Riefenstahl. Fey explained that she was a groundbreaking German sports photographer who made films for Adolph Hitler and was an example of how to lose one’s dignity.
“She did some terrible, terrible things,” Fey explained. “And I remember reading [her book] 20 years ago, thinking, ‘This is a real lesson, to be an artist who doesn’t roll with what your leader is doing just because he’s your leader.’”
The “Saturday Night Live” alum also said she worries about Trump’s influence on an already “despicable” internet.
“That’s just despicable: people just being able to be awful to each other without having to be in the same room,” she said of online behavior. “It’s metastasizing now, thanks to our glorious president-elect who can’t muster the dignity of a seventh-grader. It’s so easy for people to abuse each other and to abandon all civility.”
Speaking of dignity and the internet, Fey weighed in on the ongoing Twitter feud between Trump and his “SNL” impersonator and Fey’s former “30 Rock” costar, Alec Baldwin. In this case, she feels Baldwin can handle himself quite fine.
“At one level, it just makes me feel sick for the state of the world because it’s so beneath a president,” she said of Trump’s Twitter jabs at Baldwin and “SNL.” “But also my feeling is: ‘You think you’re good at being a jerk on Twitter? You will now face the grandmaster of being a jerk on Twitter.’”
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