Tonys 2018 : The De Niro Dilemma

Julie H. Jordan

Anyone who watched the Tony award show in its entirety caught Robert De Niro’s bleeped-out remark about President Trump, and, of course, it spread through social media like wildfire.  His f**k Trump statement was a quick, yet succinct, personal, and some would say political, comment that drew the ire of some and admiration from others.  So, does this type of remark belong at an awards ceremony?

In the past, I have remarked that I don’t have a problem with expressing a political opinion at these types of shows. When actors addressed Vice President Pence at Hamilton, I supported their right to make their feelings known, and I believe in the power of celebrity to effect change.  Their address to Pence was purposeful, yet respectful. 

So, it should follow that I support De Niro’s brief address to our president, right? Actually, no. Although I respect Mr. De Niro’s talent and intellect, I am not a fan of the method he used to express his opinion.  The problem does not lie in my political beliefs (I would venture to say that Mr. De Niro and I are pretty similar in this regard), but in the intent and purpose.

Let me explain.  I have no problem with someone of notoriety expressing dismay or disgust in a meaningful way.  Comments of this kind encourage others to think and perhaps, to work toward change (at the very least, encourages others to vote in the next election, protest, etc.).

Mr. De Niro’s expletive was sensationalistic, but it served no purpose other than that.  What positive result comes from this?  It inspired an emotional reaction from some, but little more than that.  Some may even argue that it illustrates the same behavior that so many of us abhor from the current political climate.

While celebrities have the right to express their opinions, they also have the obligation to do it in an appropriate and meaningful manner.  As quoted by Spiderman, “With great power comes great responsibility.”    I admire you Mr. De Niro, but you don’t have my support in this case.