About two weeks ago, Hollywood's favourite persona and newly branded anti-Trump political activist Scarlett Johansson made an additional political intervention following her speech at the Women’s March on Washington, where she mocked Ivanka Trump's complicity with her father's presidential affairs.
The 'political act' was a parodic perfume advert featured on Saturday Night Live. Johansson mind-numbingly impersonates Ivanka, as a standing-still, dull, blonde figure, idiotically waving her hand while the voice-over dialogs about her being powerful, beautiful, yet unwilling to stand up to her father, Donald Trump.
Tacitly implied, Ivanka's complicity seems particularly connected to Trump' unconstitutional executive order banning Muslims. Based on claims of being wheeled in to attract female voters during her father's presidential campaign and of mitigating her father's fascist regime, the ad seems to figuratively ridicule Ivanka in terms of manipulating the perceptions held by rich people who approve of her.
But why should we expect Ivanka to speak against her father's executive ban? Johansson did not appear equally offended by Obama's initial drafting of the seven-state list that served to map Trump's executive order, nor by the former president's regular practice of bombing these states.
Perhaps Michelle Obama (let us not refer to Obama's underage daughters) could have also stopped the former president from creating such list or from bombing the countries on it. It is doubtful, however, that any Hollywood persona would have been keen to unmask the complicty of the former first lady.
After all, the Obamas had long cemented their cultural capital image of a well-mannered couple: chiselled, polite, sophisticated and ideologically on the correct side of the political spectrum (the one keeping the system going, torturing its poor at home and dropping drones abroad). Liberal manners and class-structured sophistication do help.
Barack Obama is the ultimate proof that if you are sophisticated enough and you have the adequate skin tone to convince white liberals that we are beyond race in America, you can easily deport 2 million people and create a signature policy of drone attacks, without the public resenting that you did so.
It is likewise ironic that Johansson found it perfectly acceptable to speak at the Women's March in January, largely initiated in response to Trump "pussy grabbing" remarks, yet she is nevertheless at ease in using a masked gendered act to put another woman down. While women's rights seem important on paper, there is no problem with trashing women who do not fit the liberal ideals of what the tolerant (yet highly exploitative economically) society should be all about.
It is ethically disputable for a woman to protest a public policy decision by panning another woman. And inferiorly impersonating gestures, manners and hair-dos seems equally offensive with Trump's pussy grabbing comments that Johansson rallied against. While in Trump's case, women, as an abstract category, were collectively lambasted by derogatory comments, in Johansson's case, women are placed in a similar derogatory symbolic space, as she implies a guilt-carrying generalization of a woman's sole responsibility for a man's act.
In fact, shedding light onto Ivanka's complicity takes away from the complicity of American people on the matter. Trump's executive order was supported by the majority of Americans (55%). And Trump himself did not suddenly appear from a vacuum; he was elected, let us remember. Perhaps the idea of keeping "America" in tact as a community of value played more into the logic of drafting a ban on cultural Islam, considered a polluter on the imagined ideal of Americaness, which Trump alone could not have done without the majority support of United States citizens.
And while Ivanka Trump seems to be an unpaid advisor of an official White House employee, problematic given her lack of former experience in public policy matters, the one solely responsible for this nepotism is her father, Donald Trump.
In an era where politics proper are practiced a priori from Hollywood, and where cool Hollywood actors, immersed in million-dollar lives, with overall humanitarian objectives capitalized in their favour, have a de facto legitimized right to address political matters, there is no wonder that American society is deeply de-politicized; and the electoral choice of Trump complicit with Americaness.
Please chip in to keep stories like these coming.