I think we all know who can currently claim the title of King of the Twittersphere. It is probably the one claim he can make that turns out to be legitimate. Whether they love him or hate him, 18 million of his followers, (the other 18 million are fake accounts, according to a current Twitter Audit Report), wait with breath that is bated for the next misspelled utterance on a daily basis so they can either idolize or ridicule our Commander-in-Chief.
I like to keep tabs on the latter for the most part, because they’re funnier; sometimes incredibly so. Posted memes are often so creative I find myself bowing in deference to the creative yet anonymous individual behind a particular @ symbol. But it is neither these memes nor POTUS’s penchant for a 3:00 a.m. Twitter double shot covfefe that have me writing today. I was prompted this week by the Tweets of two other people you may have heard of. They happen to be moderately successful writers, I’d say.
Allow me to introduce Mr. Stephen King and Ms. J. K Rowling. They’ve sold a book or two between them; nearly a billion, in fact. And that’s a legitimate number, unlike the supposed number of zeros on bottom line of The Donald’s bank account. It turns out, they don’t care much for Mr. Trump, and this week, prompted in large part by the action (or inaction) of said El Presidente, they pulled no punches.
Let’s take a look at Ms. Rowling’s missive first. In response to a @realDonaldTrump Tweet posted at 4:28 PM on August 29th, regarding the worst natural disaster to hit the Texas coastline in over a decade, he managed a pathetic;
“Harvey. It sounds like such an innocent name, but isn’t.”
Her retort? (Just 44 minutes later and at 10:12 PM London time),
“Close your eyes. Open a telephone directory. Point at the page. Open your eyes. That's the name of the person who could do better than this.”
Ouch. And that was just the most recent in a long line of Twitter burns Mr. Trump has suffered at the pen of She who Actually Named He Who Must Not Be Named.
While Mr. King is in a better place these days about his relationship with The Donald, it didn't start out that way. He was extremely vocal about his disdain for the newly-elected leader from the get-go. Some of his more memorable Tweets include;
“…this guy has his finger on the nuclear trigger is worse than any horror story I ever wrote,”
“Donald Trump is like the crazy, ranting uncle you hope your friends will never meet.”
The master of the horror genre clearly hit a nerve. King, like several other actors, authors and activists has since been blocked by @realDonaldTrump.
Not to be outdone, this week, he got some tongue-in-cheek revenge. Citing the release of the TV adaptation of his book Mr. Mercedes and the upcoming release of the movie adaptation of his book It, he Tweeted:
“Donald Trump blocked me on Twitter. I am hereby blocking him from seeing It or Mr. Mercedes. No clowns for you, Donald. Go float yourself.”
Now, while there’s often activism in humor, there are many who don’t see these writers’ commentaries as remotely funny. Especially J. K. Rowling’s missives; as she is often dismissed because she isn’t even American and therefore ineligible to remark.Now, while that perspective, it can be argued, is simply American exceptionalism at its finest, I personally see it as an easy lob for haters who cloak themselves in faux nationalist pride.
Whenever “real” American artists get political there is often a hue and cry for them to stick to what they know. I’ve read more social media posts than I can count suggesting that this writer, or that singer, or those actors should stick to entertaining. But should they? Why should their political views be any less worthy than the next person? If they can use their celebrity to promote a cause they believe in, then why on earth shouldn’t they be allowed to advocate?
Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of the day Diana, Princess of Wales died at the age of thirty-six. She was quite literally hounded to death because she was the world’s ultimate celebrity. But you know what she did with that celebrity? Did she politicize it? Hell, yes she did! She championed the elimination of landmines. By the end of 1997, just three months after her death, 162 states signed the Ottawa Treaty, aimed at eliminating anti-personnel landmines. I’d say that’s a pretty awesome geo-political legacy for just some celebrity, wouldn’t you?
So, here is my message to all artists of all mediums, famous or otherwise. Use your talents for social commentary, for it is your work that will go down in history as the real low down on early 21st Century life. Want to know what society was truly like in Britain in the 1300s? Read Chaucer. 16th Century England? Shakespeare's your man. The woes of the enslaved before the Civil War? Read Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth. Create your truth in whatever medium you choose, and if you can do it in 140 characters, Tweet away!