Donald, where’s your culture?: Thinkpiece

Illustration by Harry Wyld

Donald Trump’s inauguration as the 45th president of America on Friday promises to be an interesting cultural as well as political event. The spectacle in Washington will be watched by billions across the world and is an event in which the new President has a golden opportunity to launch his vision on the American people and initiate a new feel good factor right at the start of his Presidency.

Yet the organisation of the show has not gone to plan for the Controversial former reality TV show host and has in many ways been a personal humiliation and embarrassment for him. Compare this to the golden optimism of the 2008 inauguration when many stars such as Beyoncé were literally queuing up to perform for Barack Obama. He has tried unsuccessfully since November 2016 to court a wide variety of showbiz personalities which have included Elton John, The Beach Boys, Kiss, Justin Timberlake, Garth Brooks and Celine Dion all of whom refused to perform at his inauguration for various reasons. Trump is used to getting his own way in business it seems but there is resistance to the new President who has proposed to try and change the country with his self styled Make America Great Again crying call.

The interesting question is why has this happened? One can surmise that his openly alt- right agenda and ruggedly Republican political policy proposals have alienated ordinary Americans as well as the showbiz glitterati. Not only in a political context but also in a cultural sense. His self proclaimed opposition to abortion, same sex marriage, support for gun rights and his support for the police over the Black Lives Matter movement has had a serious impact it would seem on cultural support for Trump in America. The opposition to Trump has not only been restricted to the musical community. Last week Meryl Streep’s vitriolic and emotional outburst against Trump’s open mockery of a disabled journalist during his election campaign drew great admiration from her fellow artistes at the Golden Globe awards. It seems Trump’s right-wing agenda has not gone down well with that aspect of the artistic community either.

The list hardly inspires confidence and with the greatest respect as for showcasing American talent?

So who then has been confirmed to perform on Friday as a showcase for America with is worldwide audience? The list hardly inspires confidence and with the greatest respect as for showcasing American talent? The Talladega Marching Tornadoes, the Rockettes and the Mormon Tabernacle choir hardly trip off the tongue as icons of cultural greatness in 2017 America.

Arguably the most well known artist Jackie Evancho does carry some weight but even those that have agreed to perform such as Rebecca Ferguson, a former runner up on the UK version of the X factor, has stipulated that she would only sing if you could perform the song entitled ‘strange fruit’ which speaks to all the disregarded and downtrodden black people of America, interestingly the Trump camp has still refused to confirm that this request has been approved. Even the iconic Jennifer Holiday, a celebrated singer and actress who has starred on Broadway, initially agreed to perform at the pre-inauguration celebration but later withdrew after a backlash from some of her fans forced her into a humiliating U turn where she sincerely apologised for her lapse of judgement in agreeing to do so in the first place.

Donald Trump of course is characteristically defiant and unrepentant and has taken to his favourite medium, twitter, in order to lambast his opponents and justify the line up stating Jackie Evancho’s album sales skyrocketed after announcing her inauguration performance some people just don’t understand the movement he says. That may be the case but Trump seems to be seriously struggling to tap in to the cultural antennae of America in what is supposed to be the most important day of his life. He further tweeted that the so called A list celebrities are all wanting tickets to the inauguration. He wants the people to attend but whether the people want him is another question.

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