Zoe Saldana, an actress who is known for her appearances in "Guardians of the Galaxy," "Avatar" and a Nina Simone biopic (for which her casting was shrouded in controversy), has spoken out against Hollywood, claiming that their bullying led to the election of Trump.
*Cracks knuckles* Let’s do this.
“We got cocky and became arrogant and we also became bullies,” Saldana told the AFP, an international news agency centered in Paris, France. “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 that felt bad for him and that are believing in his promises.”
Essentially what it comes down to is Saldana saying that the insults hurled at Trump during the election turned off much of Middle America. Trump has said something similar, characterizing Clinton’s negative ads against him as bullying—ads that were largely just supercuts of Trump’s own words. Pot, meet kettle.
It would be incredibly easy to call Saldana uneducated, or arrogant, or out-of-touch. But to dismiss her words would be to do much of what she did—boil the election down to something simple. In that paradigm, Trump won because he was the underdog; because people saw how everyone was mean to him and voted for him.
But the situation is much more nuanced than that. Trump did not win for any single reason. He won for a lot of reasons. He won because there was an entire swath of people that were being ignored by liberals and the coasts. Because there was brewing racism left over from having our first black president. Because there is a fragility to the white male ego, one that would’ve shattered from seeing a woman ascend to the highest office in the land. Because people are losing jobs, and Hillary Clinton did nothing to recognize that.
There are a thousand more reasons that I’m not smart enough to know, but to paint Trump as a victim as Saldana does denies the incredible amount of hate-mongering, fear-stoking damage Trump did, and still does, in his path to the presidency. To put the blame on Hollywood and liberals for “bullying” Trump and thus leading him to victory rings so strongly of gas-lighting and psychological abuse. It is the “You’re the reason that you got hurt.” It’s a complete rejection of the truth.
But the situation with Trump, and Saldana’s words, is a lot more nuanced than just clear dismissal. Because clear dismissal is why everyone—liberals, the Clinton campaign, the top political predictors—was shocked when people turned out in droves to vote for Trump. Clear dismissal is further sinking into our individual bubbles—the liberal bubble, the conservative bubble, the apolitical bubble—until we have no contact with each other.
Outright rejection or dismissal won’t do anything to fix our divided nation. We need to make an attempt to understand each other, rather than just write each other off. Trump and Kellyanne Conway saw that disconnect in America in a way that no one else did and they exploited it. They used it to get to the White House.
It would be easy for me to rail on Saldana for 500 words, upload a quick photo and be done. It’s a lot harder to admit that a part of what she is saying is right. We were arrogant; we believed that this election was in the bag. And because we were arrogant, we got sloppy. We forget that everyone’s voice needs to be heard, not just the “liberal elite” or the coasts.
Trump is our president, but even if Hillary had won, we would still be left with a country pulled open by intense tensions. Her victory would’ve have been a fix-all. It would’ve been a continuation of that arrogance, and it would’ve left certain groups in America feeling even more forgotten.
But I want to end on this: we did not bully Trump by repeating his own words back to him. Hillary did not bully him by showing what he has said, what he has done. And there is a difference between people who viewed Trump as an answer for their economic turmoil and those who utilized him as a Trojan horse for their white supremacy, misogyny, xenophobia and homophobia.
The situation is nuanced and conflicting. Don’t trust anyone who gives you one easy answer, because maybe that’s a part of the reason why we ended up in this mess to begin with.
On a related note, I want to commend Representative John Lewis on keeping with his conscience and boycotting the Trump inauguration. Whether or not you agree with him personally, I think it’s heartening to see someone who has values and sticks to them.