The Kennedy Center 2018 honorees have just been announced. The yearly tribute to artists who have drastically changed American culture for the better will honor pop singer Cher, composer Philip Glass, saxophonist Wayne Shorter and country singer Reba McEntire. And, for the first time, a Broadway musical, Hamilton, will get a special honor. While Reba’s known for keeping her politics and entertainment separate, Cher, Glass and Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of Hamilton, have all been openly critical of Donald Trump. Is the Kennedy Center trying to send a message?
Cher has been very critical of Trump, even saying during the 2016 election that if Trump were elected, she’d move to Jupiter. (Thankfully she didn’t make good on that offer — we need her still on Earth.) More recently, she said she’d rather eat cow tongue than say something nice about Trump.
Composer Philip Glass has also been an outspoken critic of Trump. Last year, he called Trump an idiot, though he has also repeated the privileged canard that Trump’s Administration is good for getting people involved in politics, saying, “We should be grateful to Trump for having shaken us up.”
For the first time, Hamilton is getting a special award — the Kennedy Center honors typically only go to individuals. And, of course, Hamilton has also had its own run-ins with Trump.
Aside from creator Lin-Manuel Miranda being up front about his dislike for the president, shortly after the election, the Broadway cast addressed audience member Vice President Mike Pence from the stage, saying, “We, sir — we — are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights.”
Trump claimed the Hamilton cast had harassed Pence and called them “very rude.” (We suppose he’d know being a rude harasser of people himself.)
It’s unknown whether or not Trump will attend this year’s ceremony. Last year, he and Melania didn’t appear — claiming they were withdrawing “to allow the honorees to celebrate without any political distraction.” Some of last year’s honorees, including legendary TV creator Norman Lear and choreographer Carmen de Lavallade said they wouldn’t attend the gala reception at the White House, and the reception was subsequently cancelled.
If Trump doesn’t appear at the Kennedy Center 2018 ceremony, it would be the fifth time a sitting president didn’t attend, and the first time a president refused to show up twice.
Deborah F. Rutter, the president of the Kennedy Center, said the choices were not politically motivated. She told the New York Times, “When you have people of all backgrounds and races, age, socioeconomic differences and they all are moved by this work — this is a work of power and importance. And I’m disappointed that Mr. Trump may not like it. But in fact, this is not a rebuke. This is about celebrating a powerful work of art and I will always stand by the power of the arts.”
Which Kennedy Center 2018 honoree are you most excited about?
Read more stories by just signing up
or Download the App to read the latest stories