Bill Prady is given a prestigious ADL honor for his efforts to counter the hate, prejudice, injustice and racism that is poisoning America right now
Co-creator, Executive Producer Bill Prady (on the left) with the cast of CBS's hit comedy The Big Bang Theory. The other co-creator, Chuck Lorre (on the right).
After Trump's Election, Bill Prady Makes A Life Changing Decision
After ten years as Co-creator and Executive Producer of the CBS’s smash hit situation comedy The Big Bang Theory (along with Chuck Lorre and others), Bill Prady has earned the kind of Hollywood success that allows him to sit back and enjoy life.
However, sitting back has never been Prady’s style. Instead, he has used his position and power to speak out about society, injustice and politics, among other things.
He has injected his humanitarian views into the show where appropriate and lived a life sensitive to the currents in our culture.
After the last presidential election, Prady made an important shift in his thinking, however. It was no longer enough to speak out, donate to the right causes, support the candidates who he felt would make America a better place, because things were happening that made all that fly out the window.
“After the election I made a decision to change my personal focus from politics to the front lines,” Prady said on Wednesday evening in the ballroom of the Beverly Hilton, as he accepted the prestigious 2017 Anti-Defamation League Entertainment Industries Award.
Prady looked around to see who was out in the trenches that mattered to him. What matters to Prady?
“Bill is an outspoken voice for the most vulnerable among us,” said actor and writer Will Wheaton (who plays what else, Will Wheaton, on The Big Bang Theory), as he presented the award.
“The thing about being vocal,” added Wheaton, “is that it is not without its risks. The history of my industry is shamefully stained with the ruined lives of people who dared to speak out when it was unpopular.”
In the case of Bill Prady, he made clear, that is why he uses his success to speak truth to power and to stand up for the most vulnerable among us.
So when he looked to see who was on the front lines in the fight that mattered to him he saw that the ACLU and Planned Parenthood, among others, were leading the fight, but not exactly the fight he wanted to join and support.
He sought out a group that he believed was “trying to dig up the weed of hate that had taken root in modern technology.”
It was the ADL.
Most associate the Anti-Defamation League with being Jewish, and for good reason. It has led the fight against bigotry, hatred and anti-Semitism against the Jewish people for generations.
But like the problem, it has grown over the years. It now includes fighting prejudice against everyone who is susceptible, who can’t fight back, who – like the Jews - is a modern scape goat.
From the ADL program at the 2017 Entertainment Industry Dinner
In 2015, there was a dramatic 56 percent rise in anti-Semitic assaults in the U.S., and a 91 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents on college campuses.
The ADL has certainly acted to counter those nightmarish statistics. But it has also trained over 100,000 law enforcement personnel over recent years. In 2015 alone, the ADL provided sensitivity training to over 14,000 law enforcement personnel.
The ADL has reached over 61 million people with its educational efforts. In 2015 alone, over 1.5 million students took part in its No Place for Hate effort to create positive climates at schools.
It has worked with other religions, other races, other ethnic groups to try and deal with hatred, bigotry, prejudice and injustice.
As Wheaton pointed out, it has never been more important.
“We are right now living through a moment in history that will be looked back upon,” said Wheaton. “It will be studied and taught and judged by future generations.”
“Our grandchildren will ask,” continued Wheaton, “what did you do when fascism came to America? What did you do when they tried to take health care away from the poor t give even more money to the rich? What did you do when 13 old, rich white men got together in a room and wrote laws to control women’s bodies?
“What did you do when those who had so much took everything they could from those who had so little?”
“We are here to night to honor a man who will be able to hold his head high and answer: ‘I did everything I could.’”
Growing up in a suburb of Detroit where there were lots of other Jewish families, as well as a blend of religions, races and immigrants, Prady said the problems we face today didn’t seem as real as they do now.
“What changed?” mused Prady. “The Big Bang Theory is about outsiders. Its abut that feeling I had as a kid that I was the only one that loves Star Trek and science fiction and magic. I lived in a dark time for nerds, the time before the Internet.”
Bare Naked Ladies perform the theme from The Big Bang Theory, at ADL Dinner
Then the Internet came along and changed everything. The nerds and geeks could find each other, and feel like they were no longer alone.
“But they weren’t all good connections,” added Prady. “There were dark connections too. The angry young man who had been convinced by his parents that all their troubles stemmed from people who are different could connect too.
“And the connections of hate became a web and then a net and then a thick blanket of hate that threatens this great American experiment.”
It used to be easy to spot the racists, added Prady, because they were the ones out in a field wearing sheets and burning crosses, or doing other things that made it clear who they were.
“You won’t find racists and anti-Semites out in fields with crosses these days,” he said. “They gather on the Internet. They strategize how to sanitize their messages. They aren’t neo-Nazi’s, they’re the alt right. It’s not hoods, it’s suits.
“And it’s not an open field. It’s the very corridors of American power.”
“So I called the [ADL] and asked how I can help,” said Prady. “And they said do this [dinner]. And I said, ‘It’ll be a pretty boring night. So I called the Bare Naked Ladies.”
Prady’s favorite band was the entertainment for the dinner, including a spirited version of their song, History of Everything, the theme song to The Big Bang Theory.
It was entertaining, but so was Prady, as he delivered his message that we all need to be on the front lines of the life or death struggle for the soul of America going on right now. Having wealth and privilege is not a reason to ignore a regime that has given a wink to hatred, race wars and attacks on immigrants; in fact it comes with an obligation to stand up for what is right.
That is what Prady was doing as he was honored at an annual event that this year raised almost $500,000 so there can be more education, more outreach, more legal resources, more people to counter the real terror in America today, the terrorists who want to take away the dignity of the poor, the disabled, the working classes and all those who are, as Prady would say, vulnerable.
Bill Prady at the 2017 ADL dinner where he won a prestigious honor
Prady dares to speak out even if it makes him enemies places very high and very low. He is willing to put his lifestyle and life on the line to help those who can’t help themselves in this fight to save the values of human rights, diversity, religious tolerance and the rights of all for a place at the table, not just those who use gold forks and sit on a golden bathroom throne.
Ken Solomon, the brilliant CEO of the Tennis Channel, was one of those who asked others to help as Prady has done in a fight that is far from over. Give to the ADL, the ACLU, Planned Parenthood and all those who are on the front lines of a war that is tearing the fabric of our society apart.
Prady’s real message is we can all cause our own big bang by standing up to the haters before it is too late; and making sure we come down on the right side of history.