With her badass instant classic on Saturday Night Live, where she imitated Sean Spicer to the point of a terrifying metamorphosis, Melissa McCarthy gave me two watershed moments in one: first, she materialised fascism for me, right here right now, in a fictional way that is more real than reality. I mean, I knew fascism was here with us, but she made it real for me in a way that scared me – a revelation. At the same time, her script and her supremely passionate, focused acting gave me a priceless awareness that the resistance is here too, in the form of a giant, modern, collective intelligence. I can feel it now, I can taste it. The labor of love of those who are writing away, legally representing, cheering at airports, turning up at protests, knitting pussyhats, studying something new, drawing comics, reporting, rehearsing, preparing.
I think it’s the most beautiful, genial thing she ever did, as she showed us that at this time in history we need art at least as much as we need fact-checking. We need invention and transformation as much as we need to keep the fascists accountable for the literal things they say and do; we need to see reality through the lens of a luminous woman dressing up as Spicer and being more real than Spicer himself. We need art to fight the monsters, to make the resistance more meaningful than just taking sides; we need art to elevate us above automatic response; we need art because the resistance cannot be reduced to fighting those who want to make the world worse – it should still strive to make the world better. We need art to experience the fight and the values and the closeness and allow it to change us and sustain us, so that we don’t lose heart. Creation and fiction may well be what will rescue us from all the noise about fake.