When I was a child, my mother got a box set of Barbra Streisand’s greatest hits for Christmas that played on repeat in her car mornings on the way to school for the better part of a decade. During my formative years, the brain space that should have contained multiplication tables and understanding of simple graphs was instead filled by the lyrics to “You’re the Top” and “Papa Can You Hear Me?” I can vividly remember covering my ears at least once and screaming “You’re torturing me” against the unrelenting assault of decades-old showtunes. But now that Barbra Streisand has dedicated the latter part of her career to tormenting Fox News viewers with silly jabs at Trump, I don’t mind nearly as much that I can barely add but can sing “Don’t Rain on My Parade” start to finish despite never having had an iota of interest in her music.
After releasing a pretty silly anti-Trump song called “Don’t Lie to Me” last year, Streisand’s first Madison Square Garden concert in 13 years seemed designed to generate right-wing outrage, featuring a giant screen of Trump’s 2016 Time “Man of the Year” cover decked out in clown makeup as Streisand sang a new version of Stephen Sondheim’s “Send in the Clowns.”
Okay, with lyrics like “Something’s amiss/ I don’t approve/Now that he’s running the free world/Where can we move?/Maybe a town!/Just who is this clown?” it’s not exactly a Molière-level takedown of the bullshit the White House is normalizing with every passing second. But Boomer conservatives, especially Trump, feel a special sort of victimized when a celebrity they once admired tells them they suck, which is fun, so let’s just take our small amusements where we can find them.