Zoe Saldana has a point about Hollywood ‘bullies’

Guy Birchall

Topics Culture

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In an uncharacteristic bout of self-awareness, a Hollywood actress has acknowledged that celebrities giving their two cents on political events doesn’t always yield the intended result. Zoe Saldana has said Hollywood ended up ‘bullying’ Donald Trump during his triumphant presidential campaign.

She told AFP: ‘We got cocky and became arrogant, and we also became bullies. We were trying to single out a man for all these things he was doing wrong… and that created empathy in a big group of people in the US that felt bad for him and that are believing in his promises.’

Regardless of how difficult it might be to bully a billionaire with an ego so big it has its own gravitational pull, Saldana has raised a good point. She thinks her fellow slebs drove people to Trump by blasting him at every available turn. Others, such as Meryl Streep, clearly believe they didn’t state their hatred of Trump enough. But despite lots of celebrities weighing in on the matter, Hollywood’s stance against Trump made no difference to the result. Though Saldana is nearer the mark with her supposition that the collective effort against Trump did more harm than good. Whenever some pious, right-on actor starts banging on about whatever cause is fashionable in La La Land at the moment, most people change the channel.

Some people on the internet have got the hump about Saldana suggesting it could even be possible to have too much of a go at Trump. And, depressingly, much of the abuse aimed at Saldana seems to have racial undertones, implying that by putting forward an opinion on why Trump won (which doesn’t solely blame thick, white bigots in fly-over states) Saldana isn’t really ‘black’.

This isn’t the first time Saldana has been subjected to accusations of not being ‘black’ enough. Saldana is of Afro-Dominican and Puerto Rican heritage, and when she was cast as the title role in Nina, the biopic of Nina Simone, she was accused of not having an adequate level of ‘blackness’. She reportedly used make-up to darken her skin, in order to look more like the soul singer, which upset some people. These objections were not raised when she altered her appearance to play Gamora in Guardians of the Galaxy, a role she is clearly not ‘green’ enough to play without the aid of make-up.

It’s a curious world we live in, when the response to someone saying bullying didn’t help a situation is for that person to end up being bullied herself. But what is most objectionable about this furore is the attempt to bring race into an argument where it is totally irrelevant. Saldana’s observation about why the election result turned out the way it did has nothing to do with her skin colour. What this sorry affair has highlighted is how obsessed some sections of the left have become with identity politics.

To disagree with someone’s point of view is healthy; to say that they shouldn’t hold that view because of their race is abhorrent. Especially when Saldana is much closer to a correct assessment of the situation than many others in the self-righteous, blinkered and triggered celebrity bubble.

Guy Birchall is a writer based in London.

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Topics Culture


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