A good rule of thumb in these dire political times, or actually, in any sorts of times: Don't take a picture of you grasping onto a replica of the president's head, covered in fake blood, a maneuver soon to be known as a "Kathy Griffin." Get a load of this:
On Tuesday, TMZ published pictures from the comedian's latest publicity stunt, immediately triggering a wave of outrage from conservative media outlets. Newsbusters wrote that the comedian is "channeling ISIS"; the Daily Caller reminded us of her ties to CNN, which I imagine will soon resemble the head she's holding: severed.
Even if you hate Trump, this is bad—I obviously don't need to explain why. Can you imagine what would've happened if a conservative celebrity would've done a similar photoshoot with Barack Obama's head? (Donald Trump Jr. was one of many right-wingers making this point on Twitter.) Trump might be the worst president ever, but joking about murdering him doesn't do the resistance, or anyone at all, any favors. Instead, it gives the right more ammunition for their fantasies about a leftist movement that's equally as violent as the alt-right.
This is unfortunately typical of Hollywood "activism"—ignorant, misguided political statements that generate more publicity for the celebrities speaking out than whatever noble cause they're supposedly fighting for. Whether it's Chelsea Handler opining on the virtues of a Mike Pence presidency or Lena Dunham's painfully bad resistance poem, anti-Trump celebrities have a bad habit of reminding us that conservatives aren't wrong about Hollywood elites being out of touch with the American people.
Even Meryl Streep's Golden Globes speech, where she spoke out against Trump mocking a disabled reporter and bullying in general, missed the mark. Nothing Streep said was wrong, but we're beyond the point where milquetoast celebrity slacktivism will come off as profound or even interesting. In our nightmare world of social media, it's not hard or particularly remarkable to say the president is bad. Celebrities speaking out about politics doesn't hold the currency it once did—maybe that's why Griffin felt pressured to up the ante. But in a country beset by income inequality, it's understandably hard to be moved to action by a rich famous person saying "Trump bad." Especially when they tend to do it in the most obnoxious way possible.
There are of course, exceptions. Jimmy Kimmel recently made a poignant and important argument about the effects of the Republican healthcare bill on his show by discussing his newborn son's heart condition, and the human cost of allowing health insurance companies to charge more to those with preexisting conditions. The reason Kimmel's argument was so effective is because he wasn't dunking on Trump's complexion or implicitly endorsing a bloody assassination. Kimmel was talking about things that affect Americans who had less money—and therefore less access to medical care—than people like him.
Holding up a facsimile of the president's severed head is gross and shocking, but it's also an empty gesture, a trite undergrad art project. All it does is let conservatives paint anyone who doesn't like Trump as violent and deranged as Griffin.
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