THE PRESIDENT ELECT, HOLLYWOOD & WE THE PEOPLE.
In March of 2015; boy it seems like it was yesterday, Univision host Rodner Figueroa was summarily fired due to his “unpleasant” remarks about Michelle Obama’s appearance. I for one joined my outrage to that of thousands of people who agreed with the network’s decision. But let’s analyze why we felt so offended by Figueroa’s remarks: he underscored an alleged similarity between the First Lady and the apes; had it been another animal, a lioness for instance, he would have probably kept his job perhaps with a slap on the wrist; but for decades putting people of African descent close to that specific animal has been one of the racist narratives that we all have come to detest. Never mind that Aerosmith’s lead singer Steven Tyler does indeed bear a striking resemblance to an ape. But he’s white; a comment regarding him would never be perceived as hurtful as made regarding a black person, let alone the first black First Lady.
I am not aware of the nature of Mr Figueroa’s contract with Univision, but that company, in my judgement, treaded a very fine line between the First Amendment and the deference due to the espouse of our Commander in Chief; in the host’s defense:
1- He did not make an accusation of any sort.
2- The tone of the remarks in question, albeit allegedly tainted by racist bias, was at worst satirical, there was nothing in them derogatory of the character and the intelligence of Mrs Obama.
Since it seems to be now au courant to copy/paste scientific definitions and usurp other people’s knowledge to look cool; allow me to remind you what the first amendment states:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
In substance: Rodner Figueroa made a bad joke that I as a black individual take very personal, but he didn’t pretend to own any truths nor did he lecture us on the intricacies of politics and the perils ahead. He was fired !!!
Meryl Streep; a superb actress, receives a well deserved lifetime achievement award and unilaterally decides to make of her acceptance speech a tirade against ONE person; the president elect. To that purpose she chose probably the lowest moment of Mr Trump campaign; the alleged mocking of a disable journalist that he continues to deny to this day, but that after repeated viewing of the video in question I can’t bring myself to justify. Mrs Streep is entitled as is Mr Figueroa to her sacrosanct freedom of speech. Entertainers are not compelled to opine on political issues; however, if they decide to venture into the swampy land of politics they should at least do so with a modicum of integrity. I agree with Mrs Streep and so many other voices that the current juncture is a dangerous one, that our great nation is divided and the exacerbation of such division could only endanger our stability and ruin the very fabric of this quasi utopia dream known as the United States of America.
The electoral process was low, dirty and filthy like no other, both parties underwent a deep fracture by virtue of which the establishment that calls itself leadership tried to impose its choice on the majority; they succeeded in the Democratic field, but they failed in the Republican side and that’s how Donald J Trump got the nomination. I never heard any warning sign from Hollywood, I never saw Mrs Streep nor any of the now vocal critics of the president elect object as to the integrity, the lack of appeal, the arrogance, the decades old impunity of Hillary Clinton; not for one second did these “watchdogs wannabe” stop to meditate and consider that probably Mrs Clinton was a thing of the past; someone who lived and thrived under the shadow of her husband’s successes but had very little of her own. The entertainment elite erected Hillary Rodham Clinton as the legitimate heir to the throne and any comment to the contrary was racist, bigot, white, red neck, ignorant and most of all deplorable. The democratic candidate owned a caterpillar that crushed anything that did not eat, drink, live and dream Hillary; then on one cold November night the crap hit the fan . All those who had remained silent for fear of the caterpillar shielded themselves behind the privacy of the booths and voted for the other guy. It felt as though Joe and Jane had written words like deplorable, narcissist, fascist, racist, ignorant and so many others on a small piece of paper, then rolled it to make a wad out of it and sling shot it as far as they could.
Mr Trump didn’t win because Putin messed with our cyber security; which indeed seems to have happened, nor because Hillary’s campaign manager had a lousy password. All of that may have helped in a way; but Mr Trump’s victory or better put: Hillary’s defeat was a result of years of bad politics, nominal economic recovery that had not in the least translated into a tangible improvement in our lives, and the insidious, perverse and unfair demonization of everything American. Meryl Streep could not help being anti American herself at least in her lexicon, when she stated: “So if you kick them all out, you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts. And that is not the arts,”, I am proud of the contribution that immigrants like me have made to our nation, but that does not entitle anyone to be dismissive of the American heritage and traditions.
It was another missed opportunity. Mrs Streep could have made an excellent point if she had criticized Mr Trump as well as the numerous maladies that afflict our society; she could have been critical of the lyrics that depict women like trash, the abuse of the b word, the f word. The flooding of the market with video games where the oozing of blood defines the winner. The neglect our veterans receive as a reward for their sacrifice. The elitism that prevails within some sectors of the Democratic Party and their loss of touch with the average American. Instead, Mrs Streep focused on the effect and not on the cause.
Mr Figueroa made a stupid joke and lost his job; Mrs Streep pretentiously lectured us on her very personal vision of the challenges ahead, vented her personal frustration over a self inflicted defeat and some suggest she deserves a medal.
By the way; Univision CEO’s Randy Falco and the entertainment division chief paid a visit to the president elect. Did they kiss the papal ring?