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Dear Hollywood, Shut Up

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Written by: Communicator StaffMarch 21, 2018

*The views expressed in the following article solely reflect the views of Ben Bailey. These views do not reflect The Communicator at large or other individuals who work for The Communicator. Please feel free to email Ben at bailbn01@students.ipfw.edu with any questions or comments.

Written By: Ben Bailey

Surprisingly, the 90 Academy Awards commenced on a seemingly encouraging note. Late night TV host Jimmy Kimmel, who also hosted the Oscars last year, claimed during his opening monologue that this year’s ceremony would be a “night of positivity”.

As I sat in my living room and listened to this vain promise, I had a fleeting sense of hope that maybe, just maybe, Hollywood would put aside politics for one night and instead focus on the incredible stories, memorable moments and superb performances that have graced the big screen during the past year.

I should have known better.

It took mere minutes for Kimmel’s promised “night of positivity” to deteriorate into the Trump bashing, conservative-hating travesty that has become customary in modern day awards shows. Kimmel indulged in this useless banter numerous times throughout the evening, with perhaps the most outrageous rejection of his promise coming in a short quip regarding the movies nominated for best picture. Kimmel pointed out that every film that was nominated for the coveted best picture award roped in under $100 million at the box office. He then stated that, “We don’t make films like ‘Call Me By Your Name’ for money, we make them to upset Mike Pence.”

While there were countless other jabs at conservative values, Republican politicians and the president throughout the evening, they’re not worth my time to write, nor your time to read. When Hollywood sticks its nose into the political arena, society as a whole suffers. Not only are most political comments made by celebrities unintelligent, but they also serve to increase polarization between Americans. Ideological statements made by celebrities are often surface level at best, and represent examples of the most insignificant form of political argument, the personal moral argument. Or, as I prefer to put it, the “I feel like it’s the right thing to do” argument. Let me be clear, I am not arguing that Hollywood celebrities should not be able to voice their opinions about political issues. In fact, Hollywood elites can use their platform to advocate for issues and causes that exist outside of political argument. For example, clean water in developing countries, starvation epidemics in Africa, and even the #metoo movement that has taken aim at halting all issues of sexual misconduct in Hollywood are all causes that Hollywood could be focussing on.

Unfortunately, these are not the types of issues Hollywood has decided to stand up for. Instead of unifying American society around issues that do not inherently divide and polarize society, celebrities are settling for insults, moral arguments and belittling to advocate for causes that should be left to the political process.

Let’s take Kimmel’s Pence insult and examine the effects that a seemingly innocent comment can have on American society over time.

When Kimmel and other like-minded celebrities criticize the values of elected officials of a specific party or ideology, they are also criticizing the values of regular Americans who believe in and vote for those same officials.

When Kimmel slapped Pence with his comments at the Oscars, he also slapped the millions of Americans who, like the vice president, believe that marriage is between a man and a woman.

It does not matter how strongly a celebrity feels that their moral argument on one side of a social issue is correct, because there are millions Americans who hold an opposite view who feel just as strongly.

This is where the problem lies.

As Americans, particularly conservatives, are bombarded with the banter of celebrities that belittle and criticize the values that are important to them, polarization and division in society is bound to occur. When this happens, everyone in society loses.

In actuality, there are no “good guys” and “bad guys” in politics. Liberalism and conservatism are simply two ideologically and philosophically different methods to approach the issues in the world. Trump wants the best for our nation. So do House representative Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer. While they may disagree on almost every policy decision, they all desperately want the United States to be a better place tomorrow than it is today.

Unfortunately, as celebrities divide everyday Americans, it becomes tragically easy to forget this. In today’s society, liberals and conservatives do not look at the opposing ideology with empathy and understanding. Instead, we vilify the people who do not hold the same views as ourselves. This is one of the greatest tragedies of modern society.

Sports, movies, television, books and music were once amazing ways to unite members of society who disagree politically. In what seems like an eternity ago, it didn’t matter who you voted for to have a wonderful and enjoyable conversation with someone about a spectacular movie, an exciting ending to a sporting event or a compelling new television program. One by one, these once unifying and apolitical outlets are being stripped from society and are being replaced with more battlegrounds for political dispute.

Is nothing sacred anymore?

What would it look like for the next big award show to feature no ideological discussions and instead focus on celebrating the things that bring our society together?

I hope in the future, “nights of positivity” can be just that.