Some of the biggest nights of television are brought about by awards shows. From the Grammys to the Oscars and everything in between, everyone loves to watch their favorite performers take the stage to earn the recognition for which they have been striving their entire careers. However, our Hollywood heroes have more recently started to use their public platform as a place to speak their political opinions, whether that happens during the red carpet or in their acceptance speeches. Some would argue that activist A-listers have adopted an elitist attitude and should stick to their jobs when it comes to their public image; others say that they find celebrities making public political stands to be empowering.
Though nearly every celebrity has always spoken their own opinion, the far harsher political jokes and spectacles began at the election and inauguration of President Donald Trump, and Trump’s first year in office seemingly hasn’t changed their minds in the slightest. The most recent and perhaps the largest example would be a video segment of the 2018 Grammy Awards that was used to introduce the award for Best Spoken Word Album. In the video (which you can watch here), several singers read excerpts of the Trump-bashing novel Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff as an audition to be the voice of the audiobook version. John Legend, DJ Khaled, Cher, Cardi B, and Snoop Dogg didn’t make Grammys host James Corden’s cut due to their own commentary on the novel’s material, but when Hillary Clinton appeared at the end of the video, Corden decided she was “the one.”
“I can’t believe this… I can’t believe that he really—this is how he lives his life?” asks rapper Cardi B in disbelief after reading mere sentences of the book.
However, this wasn’t the first time a major statement has been made at an awards show; Julia Louis-Dreyfus took a jab at immigration restrictions during her 2017 SAG Awards acceptance speech for her role in “Veep”, saying, “my father fled religious persecution in Nazi-occupied France. I’m an American patriot. And I love this country, and because I love this country, I am horrified by its blemishes, and this immigrant ban is a blemish, and it is un-American.” Simon Helberg and Jocelyn Towne preferred to make their thoughts known the very minute they arrived, with Helberg carrying a sign that said “Refugees Welcome” and Towne having written “Let Them In” across her chest.
While every person is entitled to their own opinion, many entertainment fans claim that Hollywood stars shouldn’t speak out about what side they take in current issues. It seems that no one cared much when they were viewing one or two acceptance speeches centered on politics; it’s different, they say, when the entire event is centered on an elected official such as Trump. “If you are America, and you are tuning in to watch your favorite actors and actresses and shows, and I used to do it routinely as a kid, ‘oh who is going to win’ and ‘oh she lost’ … There is very little of that [now].” said Kellyanne Conway in regards to the 2017 Emmys. Awards shows seem to be less about celebrating the past year of a given entertainment medium and instead primarily serving as a response to the past 12 months of political affairs.
However, some would argue differently. As the majority of awards show viewers are Republicans who support Trump (at least, to a degree), the constant liberal bashing of America’s president turns audiences away. Since so much of our world is infused with politics, they generally argue, is it so wrong to allow our favorite artists to express themselves and their opinions? A more peaceful, middle-of-the-road opinion lies in those who believe that freedom of speech and political statements should be protected in the interest of unity, but the barbed, hostile jokes should cease immediately.
What do you think about entertainers taking political stances? Let us know in the comments!
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