Sensational news for people who thought Susan Sarandon couldn’t get arrested in Hollywood after her imbecilic suggestion during the 2016 US presidential election that there was no real difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
She’s been arrested! Not metaphorically, admittedly, and not in Hollywood – the Thelma and Louise star got picked up by police at a sit-in in Washington, protesting against Donald Trump’s zero-tolerance immigration policy. It was, she later remarked, “worth it”.
Hang on, you may be thinking – I’m puzzled as to what Susan was doing there in the first place. Didn’t she, in effect, vote for Trump, with her showy endorsement of third party Green candidate Jill Stein? Yes. Yes she did. And if she disagrees with that paraphrasing, she’s welcome to come and have a sit-in at the Guardian’s offices about it.
For now, let’s remind ourselves of her rather grand public letter to the Stein campaign a couple of weeks before the election, in which she foregrounded policies such as Stein’s pledge to legalise marijuana: “I’m therefore very happy to endorse Jill Stein for the presidency because she does stand for everything I believe in. Now that Trump is self-destructing, I feel even those in swing states have the opportunity to vote their conscience.”
Mmm. Obviously, Susan is far from the only person to get that little bit of electoral prediction wrong. In fact, she doesn’t even make the cut of the top 100,000 people to be wrong about it, vast numbers of whom were journalists. She may, however, be one of the last remaining persons to still deny they got anything wrong AT ALL. Only a few months ago, Susan was explaining to this newspaper that had Hillary been elected: “We would still be fracking, we would be at war. It wouldn’t be much smoother. Look what happened under Obama that we didn’t notice.” As she concluded of Hillary: “I did think she was very, very dangerous.”
If your retort to that is “at least she’d have let us be in charge of our own fannies tho”, then hold tight. We’ll get to that. For now, you need to understand that Susan’s got a big old theory about how you jump-start history – one that is hugely similar to Steve Bannon’s, coincidentally. As she told an interviewer during the 2016 run-in: “Some people feel that Donald Trump will bring the revolution immediately if he gets in. Then things will really explode.”
In some ways, it’s the only thing Susan’s been right about. And yet, it is faintly difficult to conclude that her brand of vaguely-gestured-towards creative destruction is the sort of thing you get to say when you can afford to hang around waiting for the revolution in between starring in Ryan Murphy shows.
If you’re being separated from your children right now, or losing your healthcare, or wondering about the imminent danger to your abortion rights, it may feel like Susan’s whole “let’s see where the cards fall” approach borders on the self-indulgent. And you know, it’s a highly porous border. It’s basically the Schengen Area of only-slightly-delineated types of twattery. Fellow residents include the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow, who broke off from advocating vaginal steamers to judge the result of the election thusly: “It’s such an exciting time to be an American because we are at this amazing inflection point and everything is kind of up in the air.” Go on. “It’s such an amazing time for entrepreneurship. People are clearly tired of the status quo and […] it’s sort of like someone threw it all in the air and we’re going to see how it all lands.” Well done, Gwyneth! Can you send some $475 coffee-table books celebrating the world’s most important infinity pools to the Arizona detention courts? Because I heard they need them to snazz up the waiting cages. Maybe pop a few agate body brushes into the care package, too.
As indicated, Susan appears to have had zero moments of self-doubt since the election. She seems to yield to self-reflection about as much as Tony Blair, another individual unshakeably convinced of his own moral rectitude (see also Jeremy Corbyn), who will doubtless go to his grave thinking history will judge him right to have invaded Iraq with an aftercare plan slightly less comprehensive than that you’d get if you purchased a houseplant. “If you think it’s pragmatic to shore up the status quo right now,” Susan explained loftily before the 2016 election, “then you’re not in touch with the status quo.” Strong words – and yet, spoken not entirely like someone who’d been wandering the Appalachians in search of a clue for the past two years.
As far as perspectives go, hers appears not even to have been altered by the prospect of Donald Trump preparing to appoint his SECOND justice to the supreme court, in a decision likely to place various settled rights for immigrants and minorities, and Roe v Wade, right back on the table.
Donald Trump! Possibly a Russian asset, definitely a massive and monstrous arsehole, to say nothing of being the obvious purchaser of around 987 abortions down his years of what he described as “my personal Vietnam” – trying not to catch STDs as he screwed his way round Manhattan. He couldn’t make actual Vietnam, you’ll recall, owing to something called heel spurs. Incredible, really, that he’s yet to tweet about how fewer US servicemen would have died at Khe Sanh if he’d been there, and not detained by his urgent need to hump a model. As always, it is our place to simply thank him for his service.
As for Susan’s service, if only it weren’t so tireless. If only there had been some kind of learning curve for her, other than stuff like the fact she served as co-chair of the national steering committee for third party candidate Ralph Nader in 2000. Another tight election that worked out well, there. If only this doctoral student of absolutely everything was familiar with the famous observation Clement Attlee once made of Labour party chairman Harold Laski: “A period of silence on your part would be welcome.”
Still, if onlys aren’t going to butter many parsnips. Sometimes direct action is called for. So here goes. Susan! If you can’t face up to the fact you dropped a bollock, please don’t expect to be lionised for protesting things not-unrelated to decisions you still believe were unimpeachable. In fact, please expect to be used for it – by the enemy. Until you come to some sort of personal and public reckoning with the sillier shit you’ve said, in effect you work for HIM. You are a MAGA asset. Every piece of showbiz posturing offers his base another chance to internalise the idea of ludicrous liberal arrogance, embodied in someone who – for all her theoretical pretensions – is really operating at the same analytical level as “but her emails”.
Or, to put it more fawningly: we – as beautiful, strong, powerful, is-that-enough-trite-adjectives women – hereby endorse you to cough to the fact that the right to control who we buy our weed off is simply less important than the right to control our own bodies and keep hold of our own children. Thanks for your time!