If you missed the SAG Awards Sunday night, I won’t blame you if you did. There are WAY TOO MANY back-slapping awards shows on TV. However, if you weren’t watching, aside from Wynona Ryder’s facial expressions, you missed one of the great acceptance speeches of all time. David Harbour, star of the Netflix series Stranger Things, which won for Best Ensemble in a Drama Series, gave a rousing call to arms that literally made you want to run out of your home and join one of the many marches that sprung up over this dispiriting weekend. Watch this please:
Harbour put Washington on notice that the people will not stand by quietly as our democracy and the freedoms of some of our fellow citizens are threatened. You know what else I took from his speech? A throwing down of the gauntlet to his fellow actors and Hollywoodians. That speech said it’s no longer OK to sit on the sidelines and let the Meryl Streeps, the Bruce Springsteens, and Alec Baldwins do the talking for the entertainment community. It’s time for EVERYONE to speak up.
(And last night, truth be told, many did. Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Taraji P. Henson, Mahershala Ali, Bryan Cranston, hell, even Ashton Kutcher spoke up. Bravo to all.)
This is no longer about political views, and conservative vs. liberal vs. libertarian. This is about RIGHT vs. WRONG, JUST vs. UNJUST. Some may think that’s melodramatic and overstating things. But in one week, look at what we’ve seen from the Trump White House. Wait too much longer to speak up, and you risk your voice being silenced by some new draconian measure. I see this country going down a road that frightens me, not just for me, but for my children. I’m clearly not the only one.
As much as I was personally gratified to see actors take the stage and take a stand, I’m also still surprised by some of the voices that have stayed silent. Some of those with the loudest voices, biggest box office results and most oversized social media accounts still haven’t weighed in. I mean the Taylor Swifts, the P. Diddys, the Kevin Harts, the Jennifer Lopez’s … I could go on and on (and if anyone I’ve mentioned HAS spoken out, please feel free to correct me in the comments).
There is someone else who has been conspicuously quiet about all this. And let me just say that I will measure my love for The Rock against anyone else’s. However, it’s high time for the People’s Champ to weigh in. More people follow him on Instagram than voted for Trump or Clinton in the last election. His words have weight.
This isn’t meant to be a call-out of celebrities. Trust me, I know how presumptuous it is for someone like me to tell someone else to risk alienating part of the audience that affords them their lifestyle, by going all political. Easy for me to do it, right? It’s not my money. I’ve only got a couple thousand measly IG followers, and a political tweet won’t cost me cash.
But I’m doing it anyway.
And spare me the argument that celebs and athletes shouldn’t be role models. It’s irrelevant. In this day and age, celebrity matters. Period. It’s why a man like Trump is now our President. And it’s why the rich and famous can’t stay quiet anymore, safely innoculated from the madness of the world by their VIP status. It’s now time to use that celebrity for good.
It’s why we need someone like Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of Hamilton and someone who’s musical creations inspire me on a daily basis, to use his pulpit to stand up, to RISE UP, and speak up for those who need speaking up for. Credit where credit is due. Miranda helped write a very dignified letter the Hamilton cast read to VP Mike Pence at a performance shortly after the election. It was respectful and and hopeful and optimistic. It’s also not enough.
I know Miranda is publicly against getting involved in politics. I get it. It’s bad business, not to mention how it wreaks havoc on your twitter mentions. But the fact is, the people who are being targeted by the Administration’s draconian immigration policy could use some words of encouragement from the man who wrote perhaps history’s greatest testimonial to the American immigrant.
What we’re seeing now, practically on a daily basis, demands for everyone to speak out. As former President Obama said, the people “are the guardians of our democracy.” That includes the famous ones, who must ask themselves, do they want to lower their voices to stay out of trouble and double their choices? Do they want to throw away their shot?
Or, in the words of Chief Jim Hopper, do you want to punch some people in the face?