An editorial by Dawoud Kringle
Trump’s people are finding it impossible to find anyone to perform at the presidential inauguration on January 20th, 2017. John Legend, Beyoncé, Aretha Franklin, Justin Timberlake, Bruno Mars, Elton John, Kiss, Garth Brooks, Céline Dion, Andrea Bocelli, and even several Washington DC high school marching bands (who’d performed for the inaugurations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama) turned him down. This, despite being offered exorbitant fees.
The situation is such that Trump’s people have gone so far as to offer ambassadorships to talent agents who could secure an A-List performer. The desperation in the act is appalling, indicative of the low moral character of Trump and his people, and the pitiful estimation people have of him.
However, there is also the factor of Trump’s reputation. Musicians will negotiate a contract to be hired for the inauguration. After the gig, Trump and his people might refuse to pay the musicians. This is keeping with his consistent pattern of dishonest business ethics. Trump would doubtless justify this by saying something like “I wanted this inauguration to be tremendous, and it was. It was really tremendous. It was the best inauguration ever. But the music was bad, I mean, they were really bad, these musicians. These are bad musicians. They didn’t do a good job, it’s that simple.” His people will offer the performers, maybe 30-40% of the previously agreed upon remuneration, reminding them that it will cost them more in legal fees to sue (and, to add insult to injury, expecting them to be happy with the “honor” of performing for Trump).
Trump was recently seen with Kanye West. The YouTube videos went viral, as can be expected. If you look at it, West looked eager going in. He went in with a bounce, as if in anticipation of something good. When he came out of the elevator, he looked angry, overwhelmed, and disappointed. You will notice how West is standing next to Trump looking like he’s in pain. His facial expression and body language say he’s not happy being in Trump’s company. The only remark he’d made was that he was there to take a picture – which he did. There are several unpleasant conclusions one could draw from this. If West does perform at the inauguration, it will result in a further breakdown of his psyche. He’s being pulled in two directions: one is to do what’s right. The other is to answer the call to excessive fame, riches, and the empty celebrity that he’s addicted to. A partnership with Trump will be his final undoing – and Trump will profit from it.
But then again, neither Trump nor West have been bragging through the media about a Kanye West performance, so, it’s probably not happening.
As of this writing, there have been reports that 16 year old America Got Talent winner Jackie Evancho, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Radio City Rockettes may be confirmed (reports have surfaced that the performers, who are part of a union, are contractually obligated to dance at the inauguration, or else lose their jobs. However, according to a statement relayed through Mikyl Cordova, a spokeswoman for the Madison Square Garden Company, the dancers’ appearances are voluntary).
Beyond this, Trump’s only choices are Ted Nugent and Kid Rock. It is perhaps poetic justice that, among musicians, Trump’s most staunch supporters are the most tasteless and utterly incompetent musicians imaginable.
Bottom line, no musician in their right mind wants to be associated with Trump. Who can blame them? An association with Trump would be career suicide. There is a precedent for this. In 2003, two weeks before the invasion of Iraq, at a performance in London, Dixie Chicks‘ lead singer Natalie Maines told the audience, “Just so you know, we’re ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas.” The comment threatened to alienate them from the country music world. It was difficult for them to survive the controversy. We may expect that the reign of Trump will bring about more severe divisions in the US. This is a very clear cut manifestation of “us vs. them.” Compromise will be difficult.
For us musicians, this is the tip of the iceberg.
There is something we as musicians and audiences can do: boycott the inauguration. There is even a concert being planned to compete with the inauguration that A-List performers are literally beating down the doors to participate in. Reports of a televised “freedom concert” to air at the same time as the inauguration are in the media. There is talk that celebrities such as Beyoncé and Jay Z, Madonna, Katy Perry, Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga, Bruce Springsteen, and others may be involved. Alec Baldwin may MC the event, playing Trump as he does on Saturday Night Live. The proceeds of the freedom concert would go to the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, Lambda Legal, NAACP, Common Cause, CAIR, IRAP, SPLC, Environmental Defense Fund, Human Rights Campaign Fund, MoveOn, Economic Policy Institute, Inequality Media, and GLAD. The Trump inauguration, however, will suffer. No one will watch it, it will lose all the TV ratings, and the advertisers will loose immense revenues (provided they even chose to advertise on the broadcast; which, considering the competition, to do so would be economic suicide). This will be a beautiful gesture of defiance against the inauguration of this most loathsome and supremely unqualified man for the presidency.
I imagine protesters will be at the inauguration. Some may go so far as to make a vicious political statement, such as when protesters threw eggs at George W. Bush when he was on his way to his inauguration. This may not be possible: the Secret Service and D.C. police will be on high alert and may do something violent to anyone giving even the remote appearance of dissent (it is only through violent coercion that totalitarian governments sustain their power). However, a boycott of the inauguration, i.e. damaging the viewer ratings, will be a fitting gesture. It will also inflict pain on the president-elect’s fragile ego; a psy-op action that should be done at every conceivable opportunity.
It’s a step in the right direction; a small one, but effective nonetheless. Sometimes the incessant small acts produce the most measurable results. A Trump supporter of my acquaintance told me I should “give it a rest” and “move on”. My replay was no. We will never “give it a rest” or “move on” until the threat posed by the existence of the Trump Administration is (legally, non-violently, constitutionally, and morally) neutralized. It’s that simple; and is as inevitable, inexorable, and unalterable as the laws of physics.
I perhaps shouldn’t feel this way, but I find the immense and inescapable humiliation that Trump is forced to swallow to be quite entertaining. And unless Trump himself changes as a human being, I hope it never stops. The alternative is his success; which will bring about the absolute ruin of the United States of America.