For the most part, the glittering classes of Hollywood approach the birth of the Trump administration with collective social media screams, throwing aside the professionally crafted veneers that usually cover their expressions during public engagements. Having lectured the public throughout the campaign about the need to support Hillary Clinton, they seem unable to grasp that their wishes were not received as the nation’s command. It’s gotten so bad that the nails are out for Taylor Swift for not expressing enough approval for a march against Donald Trump this past weekend.
But as celebrities continue to refuse to lose gracefully, you have to wonder if they may kill their proverbial golden goose, lucrative and glamorous careers built on mass appeal, and “Dixie Chicks” their audiences.
For those who don’t follow country music, the Dixie Chicks were an innovative and talented country music trio, who wanted to make it clear that even though they played country music, they were too cool to be respectful of their president. So on a world tour, on foreign soil, lead singer Natalie Maines announced that she was “ashamed” that President George W. Bush was from Texas.
It didn’t end there. As the backlash increased and calls for some kind of apology grew louder, the trio doubled down, their careers crashed, and the fans walked away, something detailed in the documentary “Shut Up and Sing.” They lost millions along with a headlining tour. Never one to learn from past mistakes, the Chicks have again made it clear they are also “ashamed” of President Donald Trump.
It turned out that liking the sounds of three voices and a violin didn’t translate into supporting their politics. It didn’t turn into sales, either. Hollywood should take note.
Dear Hollywood: We’re Not That Into You
Despite Trump’s overwhelming win against all odds and the advice of the elite, many Hollywood glitterati continue to harangue the public and even their own fellow entertainers, failing to listen to even their own rhetoric about respect and inclusiveness. After Clinton lost, Lady Gaga, who had campaigned tirelessly for her, was photographed with a “Love Trumps Hate” sign. But apparently that love does not extend to Trump himself or those who support or work for him.
A gaggle of stars attended the anti-Trump Women’s March, from Julia Roberts to the ubiquitous Lena Dunham. At the Golden Globes Meryl Streep complaining both that Hollywood is victimized and denigrated in a show designed to celebrate her achievements. Her bitterness was understandable. She was one of many who tried to tie their perceived star power to the doomed Clinton campaign.
Before the election, stars like Robert Downey Jr., Neil Patrick Harris, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Nathan Fillion, Jesse Williams, Keegan-Michael Key, and Don Cheadle banded together to sway the electorate. Jay Z, Beyoncé, Jon Bon Jovi, and Lady Gaga “toured” with Hillary Clinton to draw attention to her poorly attended campaign stops.
Immediately after the election, Hollywood seemed to think that the solution to the public failure to absorb their point of view was lack of exposure. Hollywood elites railed against the Electoral College, releasing a Who’s Who of a PSA featuring Martin Sheen, Debra Messing, Richard Schiff, Bob Odenkirk, BD Wong, and others hectoring the electors to be “heroes” by refusing to do their constitutional duty. They were mostly ignored.
We Love You If You Do What We Want
Fresh from that failure, the glitterati turned their attention to Congress, asking legislators to block Trump’s efforts. Again, the “talent” includes many, such as Sally Field, Jeffrey Wright, Lea DeLaria, Keegan-Michael Key, Rosie Perez, Steve Buscemi, and Janet Mock. It’s almost sad to note that this video, titled #StandUpForUs, is produced by an organization formerly known as “Humanity for Hillary” now re-named for obvious reasons, as their advocacy for that ticket was a bridge to nowhere.
Last week, Variety featured a number of celebrities still insisting that a democracy is only as good as the outcome they desire. Stung by the public’s rejection of their politics, many in the entertainment world made it their mission to ensure that none of the cool kids worked at President Trump’s inauguration.
Ironically, the same people who would find it a crime for cake bakers to choose to make confections only for people who live like them find it acceptable to say that entertainers should sing only for those who think like them.
Entertainers report being harassed for considering simply to appear and to do their jobs. Jennifer Holliday called her decision to perform a “lapse of judgment,” saying this about her decision to pull out of inaugural events, “I was honestly just thinking that I wanted my voice to be a healing and unifying force for hope through music to help our deeply polarized country … Regretfully, I did not take into consideration that my performing for the concert would actually instead be taken as a political act against my own personal beliefs and be mistaken for support of Donald Trump and Mike Pence.”
With this kind of thinking, one must assume that Elvis endorsed President Richard Nixon when the mega star stopped by the White House during the latter’s tenure.
‘I Don’t Apologize for Performing for Our Country’
Meanwhile, stars like Toby Keith are asked to “apologize” for being willing to perform during the inauguration. “I don’t apologize for performing for our country or military,” Keith said in a statement to Entertainment Weekly. “I performed at events for previous presidents [George W.] Bush and [Barack] Obama and over 200 shows in Iraq and Afghanistan for the USO.”
The social media bullying and pressure tactics make a lie of all the previous statements about a world in which all should be respected. Just as those tacky slide shows labeled “stars without makeup” can reveal a less glamorous reality, the verbal camouflage is easily stripped away when a celebrity goes off script for endless political diatribes.
Still, conservatives do believe in freedom of association, so perhaps it is best if Hollywood takes its sparkles and goes home, leaving America with an inauguration of the people, by the people, and for the people, in which the people made it clear that they didn’t care about what celebrities thought before, during, or after the election.
But Hollywood should care about what people think of them. At a time in which movie revenues, music sales, and television ratings have been dropping precipitously, perhaps Hollywood should ask themselves if they can learn a lesson from the Dixie Chicks and find a respectful way forward, one that does not alienate the people who pay their mortgages.