Loading...
Greenville may have missed out on the new Amazon facility. One Amazon exec stated: "We wanted to go to Greenville but...

Robert De Niro and the wrong kind of politics

Molly Roberts

Molly Roberts

Loading…

Thursday, June 14, 2018

The problem with Robert De Niro wasn't that he brought politics to the Tony Awards. It was that he brought the wrong kind.

"F-k Trump," he announced when he took the stage to introduce Bruce Springsteen. "It's no longer down with Trump, but f-k Trump." The stars sitting in front of him roared in approval. Those at home heard bleeps instead, but they didn't miss the message - and they weren't as receptive to the rhetoric.

De Niro hadn't angered only conservatives. Plenty of card-carrying liberals and culture critics were mad, too. The sentiment may have earned their sympathy, but the delivery, they complained, was a total flop. The issue for these Tony fans wasn't that De Niro was distracting from the art the event exists to celebrate, or even that he had used his introduction to upstage the man it was supposed to set up. It was that De Niro had struck a discordant note during a night when, otherwise, the political tenor had been pointed but restrained.

Andrew Garfield, who won for his role in the revival of "Angels in America," exhorted his countrymen to "just bake a cake for everyone who wants a cake to be baked."

Glenda Jackson thanked those who received her from Britain so warmly for being "welcoming, and kind and generous," adding that "America has never needed that more. But then America is always great."

The Parkland, Florida, kids sang.

None of this is surprising. Liberal audiences have always wanted politics at their award shows, from the Tonys to the Oscars to the Emmys to everything in between. But these television-watchers want a prettier type than De Niro delivered on Sunday night. They're looking for something that's inspirational and aspirational all at once.

Though the celebrities who appear onstage at award ceremonies aren't technically playing a part, they're still performers, and those of us watching at home are still an audience. We're on the couch for the same reason we go to the theater: We want to see a spectacle and, better yet, we want to see something that takes us out of our everyday lives. In this case, we want to see people we admire acting out our dearest fantasies of an America working right, where we believe all the correct things and express them the correct way. We want to see the best version of ourselves in our country's most public personas.

That's why Sean Spicer's intrusion at the Emmys galled so many spectators: Someone widely despised by the intelligentsia had suddenly become a member of the cast, corrupting the story viewers were counting on these actors to tell them. It's why the initial reaction to Hillary Clinton's prerecorded reading of "Fire and Fury" at the Grammys first met with approval - and then, when Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, called people out for tolerating the book's smear against her, they started to change their minds. There are rules. They'd been broken.

Meryl Streep's stirring address at the Golden Globes last year felt like a third-act call to arms - "Disrespect invites disrespect.Violence incites violence" - and watchers were right there with her. "F-k Trump," on the other hand, is more "Beavis and Butt-Head" than Henry V at Agincourt.

We don't want to feel as if we're butt-heads, too. But the truth is, saying everyone should bake everyone else a cake won't change the minds of any actual bakers, and all the welcoming, kind and generous people in the nation can't change an administration's cruel and unwelcoming policies.

Throwing around curse words with no substance behind them is not an admirable form of resistance, and De Niro isn't going to persuade Trump voters to join his side by doing it. Yet we're fooling ourselves if we think the meaningful statements of more decorous celebrities holding aloft their trophies are going to accomplish anything, either. Their speechifying might make us sleep better after the credits roll, but in the end, whether an awards ceremony is full of subtle criticisms or crude slurs, it's all just a show.

Molly Roberts is an editor, writer and producer for The Washington Post opinion section.

Loading…

Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

Op Ed

November 16, 2018

U.S. Food and Drug Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb on Wednesday announced new measures regulating the sale of products that seem to reduce the negative health impacts of nicotine addiction — in the name of protecting children from those health impacts.

Oddly, Gottlieb also…

Knapp

November 16, 2018

In mob movies they call it "going to the mattresses" — getting ready for war.

One day after voters put an end to unaccountable, strongman-style, one-party rule in Washington, Trump moved to cover his flank. He shoved out Attorney General Jeff Sessions and installed a replacement, Matt…

Eugene Robinson

November 15, 2018

When French President Emmanuel Macron denounced populist nationalism this week and called on world leaders to support institutions such as the United Nations that defend "the common good of the world," liberal elites cheered. The speech was seen as a rebuke of President Trump, whose opposition to…

MarcThiessen

November 15, 2018

The 2018 election is finally and mercifully over and now is no time for progressives to rest on their laurels. Having taken some promising initial steps in the struggle to overcome Trumpism and build a better, fairer, freer and more sustainable nation and planet, now is the time for caring and…

Rob Schofield

November 15, 2018

Bad news for North Carolina is official: Amazon decided to split its east coast headquarters between two cities — and neither one is in our state. New York City and Alexandria, Va., will split the estimated 50,000 jobs and $5 billion in investment from the Seattle company’s…

Mark Johnson

November 14, 2018

The Washington Post

One of American elections' biggest vulnerabilities can be found in one of the most obvious places: the voting machines themselves. The country's voting infrastructure may not have been tampered with this time around, but experts say outdated systems and an overreliance on…

November 14, 2018

When Democrats took control of the House in Tuesday's midterm elections, two things were certain: President Trump's remaining legislative agenda is dead, and the chamber's Judiciary Committee is ready to combat any White House attempt to meddle in or obstruct special counsel Robert S. Mueller's…

lambro2

November 14, 2018

According to a recent report in The New York Times, Health and Human Services Department officials have been circulating a proposal to define sex. Their memo says, "Sex means a person's status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth."

They add, "The…

Walter Williams

November 13, 2018

Jennifer Rubin, The Washington Post

"Saturday Night Live" comedian Pete Davidson got reamed for making a tasteless joke a week ago Saturday about Dan Crenshaw, a former Navy SEAL who lost his eye in combat in Afghanistan. Days later, Texans elected Crenshaw, a Republican, to Congress. On…

November 13, 2018

Democrats achieved significant victories this year in the “inner suburbs” of Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro, and North Carolina’s other major cities — tossing out GOP incumbents in the General Assembly, county commissions, and other offices.

Although Republicans did better…

john hood.jpg
303 stories in Op Ed. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 31
        Next Page»   Last Page»