When Trump’s actions are getting increasingly damaging to vulnerable minorities, it’s getting harder and harder to imagine why we should expect people like Kathy Griffin to keep apologizing.
Kathy Griffin, the comedian who faced massive backlash from a May 30th photo she posted of her holding up a mask of President Donald Trump covered in fake blood, styled to look like his decapitated head, is refusing to apologize anymore.
The story, which takes place in late June, opens with a description of Trump’s Twitter rant that day: denouncing Robert Mueller’s investigation, mocking House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and calling Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer “Cryin’ Chuck.” The nickname came from Schumer getting emotional when discussing the Trump immigration ban.
“Why are people still expecting me to apologize and grovel to a man that tweets like this?” Griffin “vented” to the piece’s author Bashar Ali. “I’m a comedian; he’s our fucking president.”
It’s a question I’ve posed to friends, a question that’s been rolling around in my head.
There are a lot of people who argue for watching something, anything else. It’s a compelling argument. Bill Scher of the New Republicsaid that viewing, even tacitly, boosts Trump’s ratings and engorges his influence. It’s a fair argument: Trump’s actions garnered him so much free press through unrelenting media coverage. According to a Nov. 9 CNBC article, Trump’s campaign team spent $238.9 million, compared to Hillary’s $450.6 million.
And so if this was still the campaign, I would agree with the argument of looking away for ratings’ sate. But this isn’t. He will be inaugurated. He will be our president. The Trump presidency looms over all of us with the iron heaviness of a train about to hit. But much like looking away at the train comes near, not watching Trump’s inauguration won’t make his presidency hurt any less.
In a great Vulture piece (@Vulture, hire me), writer Kathryn VanArendonk said that this does not apply to any “puff piece” spun around the Trump family. Feel free to boycott everything else the Trump family has touched.
After the election’s results came out, everyone was in shock. It was palpable in the air, heavy and tumultuous. And so for the next three months, we’re been in a purgatory of pseudo-normality. It’s lulled us back into relative complacency. Not anyone’s fault—because to remain in a continuous state of fear and anxiety is completely destructive. But much like having a bad dream, when we had that respite of waking up, we wanted to sink into that comfort.
But this is like the bad dream of giving a presentation in class—you wake up, sweaty and panicked, having just come from a dream where you forgot your laptop and your pants. You flop back against your pillows, your heartbeat stuttering. It’s just a dream. Your eyes flick to the chair, where your pants are, and your desk, where your laptop charges. It was just a dream. But you still have that scary presentation, so your relief is tainted by the awareness that it is temporary.
I’m going to try to watch the inauguration. I might not be entirely successful, but I want to witness of it as much as possible. For a lot of reasons.
Trump used the media to his advantage. He provided soundbites, he acted the part, he fed the media’s ravenous hunger for “scandal” and “drama.” Don’t let the media filter the inauguration for you. Witness it yourself. For as much as it will be a Roman Triumph of Trump, it will also be a testament to his rampant incompetence. Witness it in its fumbling glory. Don’t take your eyes off him for a second because the moment you do, you allow him to contradict himself and change the narrative. Hold him accountable.
Like the great Oprah once said: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.”
Watch everything. Watch how they address fact that dozens of representatives are boycotting the ceremony. Watch how they introduce Trump. Watch the Women’s March the next day. Watch how the two differ, how from the ground up there is a strength rising that belies the gilded falsities Trump is trying to make us believe.
Watch everything. Witness everything. Don’t let anyone take your right to knowledge away from you. Take it into your own control.
Media is taking a huge hit right now. We’re being called biased, fake, unreliable, vindictive. We are supposed to be the bringers of truth, the backbone of the country, and we’re becoming a target.
Conway was saying in the interview that the media is not giving Trump a fair shake, that we’re taking him at his word when we should be reading his intentions. The problem with that, Kellyanne, is that there is no way of reading his intentions. He has no intentions. He flip-flopped on every issue, lied about things in plain sight, shut out the media, ranted on Twitter, built his campaign on the backs of issues targeting immigrants, Muslims and other minorities.
So if we’re reading his intentions and his words, both have negative implications towards the media, minorities, and America.
In her speech at the Golden Globes, Meryl Streep could’ve thanked her fans and her team, something soft and fluffy. But she didn’t. She said that Hollywood, foreigners and the press belong to the most vilified groups in society right now. She said that disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence. She spoke on the handicapped reporter whom Trump made fun of—something he denies ever happened, despite video proof.
The reporter was someone Trump outranked in every capacity. He has a habit of doing that; humiliating someone who cannot fight back properly. He has that—excuse my language—trump card over all of us. He holds the highest position in the country. No one is able to fight back. And so that is why we need the press. We need the press to shine light into dark places, to unveil corruption, to show abuses of power.
“We need the principled press to hold power to account…Join me in supporting the Committee to Protect Journalists, because we’re gonna need them going forward, and they’ll need us to safeguard the truth.”
Streep ended with something that Carrie Fisher told her.
“Take your broken heart, make it into art.”
And that’s beautiful and poignant. But there was something that Meryl said that caught my ear. It was when she was discussing the reporter and Trump.
“But there was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good; there was nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh, and show their teeth.”
The last three words: “Show their teeth.”
The phrase is an idiom that refers to animals, typically wolves. They bare their teeth when they are angered, when they are showing their true nature.
When they are about to attack.
And even though she said it in connection to the hateful, hating people who laughed with Trump, I can’t help but think of it as something that we—the media, minorities, Americans—need to take onto ourselves.
But animals bare their teeth in other moments, not just attacking. They show their teeth in the defense of something.
Show your teeth.
The media has been under attack for months, but it’s heated up. Trump shut down the CNN reporter, the one person who is allowed access to him. He wouldn’t take his question because he didn’t like CNN. We are being shut out; we are being prevented from doing our jobs.
If the urge in the face of the Trump regime is to normalize him, get on his good side—resist that urge. Don’t normalize. Show your teeth.
We have to be vicious. We have to be fearless. We must continue doggedly in the pursuit of truth. Don’t let yourself be distracted by the petty squabbles he lobs into the media, letting it distract them while he does something even more nefarious. Get angry. Stay angry. Be smart and passionate and educated. Information is not a luxury; it is a necessity.
Show your teeth. Bare them, and don’t back down. Because if we do, everyone suffers. We are the protectors of the truth. Propaganda is a staple in dictatorships; a lack of freedom of the press means that nothing is free. If we don’t have freedom of information, we have nothing.
Do like Meryl; don’t let yourself sit in the softness and sweetness. Push forward; use your voice. Don’t get complacent.