Roger L. Simon

Make the Inaugural Celebrity-Free!

One of the more conspicuous ironies of the new year is that Donald Trump — our soon-to-be celebrity president, probably the greatest pure celebrity ever to hold the office, even more than Reagan — is being dissed by his fellow celebrities, who are refusing to perform at his inauguration.  I wouldn’t doubt they would have sung a different tune, figuratively and literally, if they had been asked to appear on his old “The Apprentice,” but no matter. It’s ix-nay on the residency-pay.

Bill O’Reilly and Charles Krauthammer had a debate of sorts on the reason for this demurral on Bill’s eponymous show Tuesday, Bill saying the cause was an epidemic of fear (of association) on the part of the entertainers and Charles insisting this was nothing new and Hollywood-types have always despised Republicans.

Both are obviously true, but it’s hard to deny things have gotten a bit more extreme with normally sympathetic country stars like Garth Brooks and international crooners like Andrea Bocelli reluctant to appear. Even The Beach Boys are in the “maybe” category.  Fear is obviously operative, whether of peer disapproval or fan alienation.

O’Reilly (among others) bemoans this situation but allow me to disagree.  I think it’s a great thing celebrities aren’t going to be at the inauguration, not many of them anyway.

If there ever was an election that demonstrated national disdain for celebrities (and elites in general), this was it.

Yes, Trump trucked in the occasional sports star or coach to bolster his cause, but by and large, the Hillary Clinton campaign was the one that brought in the glitz, from Beyoncé to Lady Gaga.

The people were not impressed.  And they shouldn’t have been. Why is a celebrity’s opinion about politics worth more than that of the working man and woman?  Arguably it’s worth less because celebrity lives are unlikely to be affected by the results.  And speaking as one who has spent a fair amount of time among Hollywood people, no group  has more predictable, and consequently more banal, opinions.  The “Deplorables” I met on the road covering the campaign were, on average, far more interesting and considerably more surprising.  Also they were better informed from a variety of sources. Celebrities stick to the New York Times, MSNBC and, of course, “the trades.”

Apologies to Trump supporter Sly Stallone, who is actually a pretty nice guy — and, yes, I think he’d make a great National Endowment of the Arts head, if that’s the way they decide to go — and to all the other celebs who risk their reputations coming out for Trump, but I’d like to see the inaugural completely celebrity-free!

Wouldn’t that be refreshing?  No endless parade of Kardashians or housewives (real or imagined).  No supposedly funny parodies by Alex Baldwin. No endless yadda-yadda from Stephen Colbert. No words of wisdom from Barbra.  Just a few patriotic tunes from a Marine Corps band and a man swearing on, yes, a Bible.

It won’t happen entirely, this celebrity-free zone, but it could be close and we should be thankful.  On the positive side too, Trump has apparently decided to write his own speech and, more importantly, keep it short.  As we all know, “Brevity is the soul of wit.”  Those words may have been spoken by an old fool, but they couldn’t be more true.