Donald Trump is an orange-zested trash collection site known primarily for gilding everything and bullying everyone. There are enough anecdotes attesting to this latter attribute to fill many, many books (and they will), but a sampling might include: making fun of a physically disabled reporter, spreading lies about Barack Obama not having been born in the United States, calling on his supporters to “lock up” Hillary Clinton, calling Mexicans “rapists,” the majority of what he tweets, and the menacing manner in which he comports himself at pretty much all times. Just today, Trump jump-started his morning by besmirching a beloved civil rights leader on Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend.
For these reasons and others, it’s disconcerting to hear Trump associated with bullying in a context where he is not the presumed aggressor. Disconcerting, and, in the case of actress Zoe Saldana’s recent remarks to Agence France-Presse, misleading and misguided.
On Friday, Saldana, who is out and about promoting her new gangster movie Live by Night, blamed Hollywood for Trump’s electoral victory, telling the AFP, “We got cocky and became arrogant and we became bullies.”
Saldana, who is not a supporter of the President-elect, went on to say, “We were trying to single out a man for all these things he was doing wrong, and that created empathy in a big group of people in America that felt bad for him and that are believing in his promises”
These statements, I think, harken to an argument many made in the wake of Trump’s victory that blamed Clinton’s loss, in part, on her use of celebrities—like Lena Dunham, Beyoncé, and Katy Perry—to amplify her platform and popularize her appeal. The idea is that the Clinton campaign’s strategy of obtaining as many endorsements from liberal celebrities as possible came off as superficial, snobby, even arrogant, and mostly targeted people who would already have voted for her. Sarah Jones wrote a good piece about this in The New Republic just after the election (my endorsement, if you want to read more about this “take”).
I see flashes of that debate—in addition to allusions to another popular line of reasoning: that liberals have supposedly forgotten the “white working class”— in what Saldana is saying, or trying to say (I don’t want to put words in her mouth), but blaming Hollywood misses the point entirely. Trump bullied his way to the biggest bully pulpit there is, and “singling him out” for doing so is exactly what people working in Hollywood, and everyone else, should be doing.