Everything is Political, by Tyler Smith
It’s not necessarily a surprising sentiment that everything is political. The things we say, the things we don’t. Where we spend our money. The entertainment we watch. Everywhere you go and everything you do is some kind of political statement, whether you like it or not. This includes the world of sports.
Anybody that knows me knows that I don’t care about sports at all. I will attend the occasional baseball game, but that’s largely for the atmosphere (though even I can get excited when one of our players hits a home run). I’m not even much of a fan of sports movies; it can be too tempting to fall into melodramatic rhythms and unearned inspiration.
However, I do follow politics. And, everything being political, it was only a matter of time before following one led me to another. This weekend marked a number of protests by NFL players, who either took a knee or didn’t even show up on the field during the national anthem. This was likely spurred on by President Trump’s broad and dismissive declaration (does he make any other kind?) that the players should just stand for the anthem, or be fired.
People tend not to like being told what to do, especially by an unpopular president. And so it’s entirely possible that players that would have otherwise been there, hand firmly over heart, opted not to be. It is notable that the entire team of the Pittsburgh Steelers decided not to be on the field for the national anthem. The lone exception to this was Alejandro Villanueva, a former Army Ranger and current offensive tackle. And, once again, everything being political, those that saw the players’ absence as disrespectful not merely to the president, but to the country itself (including, as many of my friends noted on Facebook, the proud men and women who died in its service), championed Villanueva, and his jersey sales went through the roof, at the same time that viewership for NFL games was down yesterday.
Okay. So far, so good, at least as far as the players and viewers are concerned. Everything went down the way it was supposed to: nonviolently. The players expressed their disagreement with the President in a peaceful, but noticeable, way. And they likely got the desired result, as their protest was all anybody could talk about yesterday. And the viewers that disagreed with the players responded by either turning off their televisions or trying to support the player that best lined up with their views, which also hasn’t gone unnoticed.
But, of course, there are those that would have us believe that we should all just shut up. President Trump essentially told the players to shut up and do what they’re told. And I have certainly seen my share of people on social media who said that the players shouldn’t use the games to make a political stance, just as they said that Emmy presenters and nominees shouldn’t “force” their opinions upon us. These people should just do what they’re supposed to do and not bring politics into it.
But, as I’ve said, everything is political. You cannot avoid it. And my guess is that if those who so vehemently disagreed with the players’ actions were to suddenly be given a public platform themselves (beyond social media, I mean), they likely would have a few things to say themselves. We all want to be heard, especially if we feel that we have something important to say. Hell, my public platform is about as low as it can get, but here I am, writing this article! And I’m sure there would be some that would say that I should just get back to reviewing movies and keep politics out of my comments.
However, by the same token, isn’t it feasible to say, then, that President Trump should just stick to politics (God help us) and keep his opinions on sports to himself?
Of course, I’m not saying that. I may think that the President has bigger things to talk about, but he can send out a tweet about whatever he wants. And the players can respond however they want. And the viewers can respond to that. And the head of Mozilla can donate to political causes. And Ben Shapiro can speak on public property. And Bill Maher can make 9/11 jokes. And Seth Rogen can make fun of religion. And I can say that Captain America: Civil War was kind of overrated (okay, admittedly, that last one is pretty low stakes).
As long as people can express themselves nonviolently, and others can respond in kind, everything’s functioning as it should. It’s only when we demand that people lose their jobs, or be silenced, or even hurt that things start to go off the rails. Some of that happened this weekend – some at the very highest level – but for the most part this weekend was, I think, a shining example of how things should work in a free and civilized society.
All this is to say that there really wasn’t a lot of movie news over the weekend.