This is why a lot of liberals, like yours truly, see the outrage that claims to be pointed at “actors” and “Hollywood elites” to be pretty ridiculous. Especially given the fact that it’s Republicans who have put two celebrities in the highest office in all the land: first, Ronald Reagan, who was an outspoken actor and president of the Screen Actors Guild before becoming president of, you know, the country; and now 28 years later, the mouthiest, most supremely unqualified celebrity-cum-candidate of all time — Donald Trump. At least in Reagan's case he paid his dues with some public service experience as the Governor of California in between. But for Trump, his entire appeal was based on his fame.
At this point, how can anyone argue that there is anything wrong with liberal celebrities using their platform to espouse values important to them at the Oscars, the biggest awards show of the year? They can’t. And so, the Oscars will play out like another battle in the war between conservatives and liberals, and we all just better buckle up and listen.
People talking to other people is important, especially with an administration like this — one in which the president flat-out lies
to the country while attempting to delegitimize the press
. Why wouldn’t actors and actresses want to use their platform to try to do some good? We’ve already seen how effective people can be when they’re organized around a collective goal or belief — just take a look at last month’s Women’s March or the protests at airports across the country after Trump’s disastrous Muslim Ban.
And yet, if celebrities are serious about getting their message across, they will need to be mindful of the elitism that, if we’re going to be honest, often overshadows it.
Midway through Streep’s Golden Globes speech, for example, our beloved Meryl fell into this trap: “If we kick [all of the foreigners in Hollywood] out, you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts.” People on both sides of the aisle decried the line, which they say showed off Streep’s smugness. Meghan McCain tweeted
that rhetoric like Streep’s “is why Trump won.” The New York Times
ran a column claiming the line did more harm than good. And in The Washington Post,
Sonny Bunch wrote that “Meryl Streep could make an effort to appreciate that which appeals to folks on the other side of the aisle — or another part of the country.”
This isn’t the only example of celebrities coming off as smug, hypocritical and lacking self-awareness: Remember George Clooney’s Oscars speech
where he talked about how much more progressive Hollywood is than the rest of the country, forgetting how far behind the industry is in its treatment of people of color
? Or how Barbra Streisand preached energy efficiency and then was caught, gasp, running her air conditioner
when she wasn’t at home?
This is the kind of rhetoric that can divide.