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When There Is No Escapism

From the SAG Awards to the Super Bowl, talk of Donald Trump’s administration is everywhere

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Hello! Welcome to this sports and culture website. Here is an article about Donald Trump.

Ah, OK, sorry — we can talk about something else. Let’s discuss the SAG Awards, which took place Sunday night. The very first thing on the broadcast was Kerry Washington, adorned with a safety pin and looking into the camera: “A lot of people are saying right now that actors should keep our mouths shut when it comes to politics.” Well, sure, of course there was going to be some political stuff here, a few weeks after Meryl Streep went after he-who-she-did-not-name during her acceptance speech at the Golden Globes.

But let’s get to the real business, the not-Trump stuff: Was Amy Adams robbed in the best actress category again? (Yes.) Did La La Land continue its toothy domination? (Yep, but not as forcefully as it might have, so maybe there’s hope for the Academy Awards next month? Kidding, there’s not; Hollywood Presents: The Hollywood Story will once again reign.) Didn’t that one kid from Stranger Things look gosh-darn adorable in his little tuxedo, up there on the big stage as — oh, yeah, huh.

Chief Hopper had some things to say about politics. It was a rousing crescendo, in which actor David Harbour promised to “hunt monsters” and, in defending those who need it, pull a Hopper and “punch some people in the face,” as Winona Ryder carried out somewhere between 10 and 65 concurrent self-exorcisms beside him. Sounds like somebody has seen that Richard Spencer video!

So, fine: Maybe the entertainment industry wasn’t the best place to go looking for escapism. After all, our president has frequently sparred with celebrities and is perhaps the last loyal viewer of Saturday Night Live. Better instead to focus on the Super Bowl, which will be played Sunday in Houston and will offer, at the very least, a few hours of all-consuming SPORTS, plus homemade guacamole if you play your cards right. (Enjoy it while you can!)

Except that the Patriots owner, head coach, and starting quarterback all self-identify as friends of the president. Except that Fox will air part of Bill O’Reilly’s taped interview with Trump during its pregame show. Except that students and confused parents and 5-year-old children were held in airports for hours this weekend without answers or prompt access to legal aid, that families were being split apart in real time, that protests erupted across the country, with cab drivers turning down fares to make their voices heard. How can anyone pay attention to sports right now? Activists gathered outside the official Super Bowl village in Houston, where people carried bullhorns and signs and told anyone who would listen that they supported refugees. More will surely follow. Who could stick to sports now?

But you need a break — you do. You can’t think about this stuff all the time, if only for fear of the happiness center of your brain turning yellow and wilting. So let’s play a game to get away from it all, something nice to look at and distract yourself — only, hang on, what’s that?

We are 11 days into the presidency of Donald J. Trump. And now, it can feel as though there is nothing undisturbed, no place to dive into for a brief gust of, well, whatever isn’t orange. Nike has come out swinging; Starbucks is fighting back; tech companies are tripping over themselves to show how virulently they disagree with the administration’s new policies. Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, told his employees over the weekend that Trump’s executive order on immigration “is not a policy we support.” Where does Gatorade stand? Is Dr Pepper against the refugee ban?

Looking at social media or — heavens — checking the news is now an exercise in lifting up rocks and counting the spiders squirming underneath. There’s nothing that’s not touched by what’s happening in Washington.

This will likely fade — the twin engines of fatigue (ours) and a rapidly emptying magician’s hat (his) should mean that the hold on our attention will eventually weaken. Donald Trump is a showman like none we’ve ever seen before, at least on this stage — a lounge singer who somersaulted into a DMV waiting room and locked the doors. He is the leader of the free world.

The saying goes that if you want a friend in Washington, get a dog. In Trump’s America, you might want to start looking into Labradors.