Conspiracy Theory – Why Kurt Sutter Will Never Win An Emmy

Two weeks ago, the 4th season of Kurt Sutter’s critically acclaimed Sons of Anarchy premiered on American television.

Followers of Sutter’s blog or his twitter account @sutterink will know that for the past year or so he has been an outspoken critic of the Emmy nomination process and the people who make those decisions and those of us who have been glued to our screens over the last 3 years are in complete agreement with him, even if his language does make our toes curl.

The question which has perplexed and confused the Sons fans started out as a fairly simple one, “Why won’t the Emmy people ever nominate the Sons for an award?” At first, we thought it was snobbery; Sutter isn’t one of the Hollywood elite and he’s proud of his outsider status. Another theory is that because Sutter has a self-confessed tendency for obsessiveness, the shows he works on either conform to his vision or there’s hell to pay. He admits he can be quite difficult to work with and perhaps the lack of recognition in the form of nominations is some kind of payback, especially when you consider he’s been quite openly critical about the falling standard of dramatic writing over the last few years.

My theory is much simpler.

Hollywood is running scared.

Ever since 9/11, the American entertainment industry has been putting out largely pro-government material. Only a few movies and TV shows have dared to challenge the new America of the Patriot Act, the DHS and pro-war government policies. The whole concept of the arts being used to express the inner most feelings and views of the general public has been hijacked by an increasingly media-savvy political class which has sought to reach out and influence the masses through television programming and fear-mongering rather than factual debate.

Kurt Sutter however, refuses to be brought to heel.

The central characters of SAMCRO are hardly the obedient drones modern governments want their citizens to be. They think, they feel, they have their own opinions and, most important of all, they have each other. Even though they often fight like cats and dogs, at the end of the day they are a community in a way that has long since been forgotten on both sides of the Atlantic. In a world where financial and political corruption is being exposed more frequently than ever and with public perception of political figures reaching all-time lows, the characters of SAMCRO stand apart from mainstream American society.

And they do it by choice, with few regrets.

We are raised to believe that it’s a dog-eat-dog world without ever stopping to realise that dog-eat-dog is cannibalism; that we are hurting ourselves with that kind of thinking. Greed riddled bankers and rogue traders have beggared the entire planet over the past few years and none have faced any kind of trial or have had their fortunes seized to be used to repay the people whose life savings they’ve squandered. People have been screwed out of their money and had their quality of life significantly reduced by a minority of financiers who have shown little or no regret over their actions.

Granted the characters of  SAMCRO are not saints and they frequently screw over other people to get what they want, but they key thing here is that they never screw over each other. The last couple of years has seen that change, yes,  but at the very beginning the MC was founded on the principle that each Son would immediately drop everything to help another. If you needed some cash to get you through a tight spot you wouldn’t need a bank loan with a rip-off interest rate, you’d simply ask the club and they’d have a whip-round and help out. If somebody was hassling you, you wouldn’t have to worry because you knew your brothers would be there instantly and without expecting anything in return except that you do the same for them.

In this Thatcherist/Reaganomics world where Me Plc is the established moral standard, I find myself loving these gun-running, fuck-you-and-your-society scumbags. In spite of their flaws, they are more trustworthy than the law makers running the world today. Their standards and beliefs may make you turn your lips up in disgust, but they stick by them. The characters of SAMCRO have the courage of their convictions and will never be brow beaten into obedience and fear and they will never give up on their dreams and just accept the place society has marked out for them.

They are free.

And that is what the Emmy people are afraid of.

For reasons best known to themselves, the people in charge of Emmy nominations have chosen to accede to the government agenda and only nominate shows which show “good” Americans. People who obey, sit down, stand up, bark, roll over and wag their tails on command. A show like the Sons of Anarchy where the central characters frequently out-wit the Federal government, run rings around its law enforcement agencies and kill their agents, is never going to be allowed to be publicly acclaimed. It might give people ideas and Kurt Sutter’s ideas are scaring the crap out of the people at the top of the Hollywood food chain.

The fact that the ratings have been going up with few, if any, dips shows them that we like these ideas. We like the idea of having friends who’ll back us up no matter the cost, the idea that we can do our own thing and make a living and most of all the idea we can live our own way. You don’t have to conform, you don’t have to fit in. You can be your own person, hold true to your own beliefs and that is the way to true happiness.

Kurt Sutter has reached out to the people of the world not with fear or hate, but with an idea and his pen is mightier than all the swords of government because his idea is incredibly simple: brains before bullets.

I wouldn’t be surprised if, in addition to Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Kurt Sutter based the Sons of Anarchy on some of the prose of Edward Bulwer Lytton:

“True, This! —
Beneath the rule of men entirely great,
The pen is mightier than the sword. Behold
The arch-enchanters wand! — itself a nothing! —
But taking sorcery from the master-hand
To paralyse the Cæsars, and to strike
The loud earth breathless! — Take away the sword —
States can be saved without it!”

  – from The Works of Edward Bulwer Lytton, 1892.

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