What Do They Know?

One of the things that often happens when a performer—be it an actor or a musician—makes a political point is that there is a degree of dismissiveness among some—even among that person’s fans—, a reaction that has it, in effect, “Oh, she’s just an actress, what does she know?” (Or, as our President put it about Meryl Streep, “one of the most-overrated actresses.”)

We can allow these people to move us in their performances, but somehow that has nothing to do with their intelligence or capability or thoughtfulness. They are “just” playing or singing or acting. What do they know?

Of course, when it comes to the campaigning part of politics, it is all good to have the actors and musicians to come on stage with the candidates to lend support, be they Gary Busey or George Clooney, Wayne Newton or Bruce Springsteen. (Yes, I’ve made loaded choices of supporters of the candidates in the last presidential, but they are no less true.)

When Madonna says “Yes, I have thought an awful lot of blowing up the White House, but I know that this won’t change anything,” you’d think that the 58-year-old performer was going to be in charge of life-altering policies for literally hundreds of millions of people; when a presidential candidate says in a speech of his opponent, “If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is. I don’t know,” it gets pretty much treated as though, “Oh, it’s just him being him.”

Actors or musicians, the thinking seems to be, really don’t know more than their crafts. Lawyers and real estate developers—they know lots about everything.

Don’t they?

This struck me as Jeff Tweedy took to Facebook this week to address the people who “devote their time and energy to negatively comment and insult their Formerly Approved of Musician. . .for lending his support to things he and his band mates and all of our families have feelings about.”

Let’s see: we may have our hearts ripped out by, say, listening to “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart,” but call bullshit on anything that goes beyond music. We believe they have deep knowledge of life lived, but they don’t know a damn thing about the “real world.”

I may disagree with Ted Nugent, but I still have to acknowledge the fact that he has probably spent a night or two in a Holiday Inn Express, so I have to respect that.

Apparently we consider those who run for office the ones who know things and are dismissive of all the rest.

And look what that’s done for us.

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