Days after the start of the Iraq War, Michael Moore demonstrated uncommon valor by calling out the Bush administration’s obvious lies in front of an international audience:
Moore’s resolve should serve as an inspiration to those who will perform and be honored tonight at the Grammy Awards, as well as those whose achievements will be recognized in March at the Academy Awards. The spirit of resistance should not be held back at both events.
Remember that beautiful moment at the 2017 Grammy Awards, when hip-hop icon Busta Rhymes, performing with A Tribe Called Quest, scorched the 45th President with sarcasm by declaring:
I wanna thank President Agent Orange for perpetuating all the evil that you’ve been perpetuating throughout the United States. I wanna thank President Agent Orange for your unsuccessful attempt at the Muslim ban. Now we come together! We the People!
Those who take the stage tonight should be equally vocal in calling out “President Agent Orange” and the forces that politically protect the bigoted billionaire. Imagine the impact if Grammy honorees encourage viewers to join the legions of Americans calling upon Congress to impeach Trump for his obvious high crimes. Seeing some of the most influential artists on the planet turn up the heat on this wayward would-be warmonger would add even more fuel to the fires of resistance.
Trump will have, no musical pun intended, his nineteenth nervous breakdown on Twitter tonight if musicians pound away at his presidency. You know he’ll be watching. He desires the approval of the celebrity class even more than he desired Stormy Daniels—and the scorn of the celebrity class will drive him even further into fury.
It is a good thing when progressive celebrities use their platforms to promote change. Megyn Kelly can complain all she wants to, but Jane Fonda’s efforts to bring an end to the Vietnam War, while admittedly controversial, nevertheless saved lives. She deserves to be regarded as a hero, not a villain—and the same goes for every celebrity who risked their careers when they denounced the Iraq War a generation later.
Two years ago, Leonardo DiCaprio made a passionate, and compassionate, plea for urgent action on climate change in his Best Actor Oscar acceptance speech. This year, how many Oscar winners will follow in DiCaprio’s footsteps, calling out the Scott Pruitts and Ryan Zinkes of the world for sabotaging America’s efforts to avoid the worst impacts of carbon pollution? How many Oscar winners will call upon viewers to continue resisting until the fight against Trumpism is won?
At the 1998 Oscars, Billy Crystal joked that the racist, sexist, homophobic, misanthropic character Jack Nicholson played in As Good as it Gets would make an ideal Republican Presidential candidate. Crystal didn’t realize just how accurate he was at the time. Artists have always been on the front lines of social change, pushing back against the forces that have found their hero in Trump. Think of the crucial role that Sidney Poitier played in making Americans think twice about causal and systemic racism, or more recently the role Ellen DeGeneres played in forcing Americans to reconsider their religiously hostile attitudes towards the LGBTQ community. Our creative class can unquestionably play a similar role in changing the hearts and minds of (at least a few) Trump voters; if they didn’t have that much potential influence, the wingnuts wouldn’t attack them as viciously as they do.
The entertainment community shouldn’t hesitate to flex its political muscle during these awards shows. Their power and their voice can make America great again.