It’s been a social and cultural highlight for decades, and, this year, the Kennedy Center Honors marks 40 years on the same year John F. Kennedy would turn 100. And, for more than two decades, the most luminous personality in the star-studded audience gallery has been the sitting president of the United States. This year, that seat remained empty as President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump skipped the event.
When asked about his absence, Mr. Trump was a bit introspective, saying he chose not to attend so that the honorees would be able to celebrate without the incumbent political distraction. Some are trying to say Mr. Trump’s absence was, in itself, a distraction. But those folks seem to be grasping at straws.
There is no doubt the president’s relationship with much of the arts and entertainment community, as with the media, is not exactly warm and friendly. While, in the past, entertainers and presidents have been able to set aside politics and just enjoy the evening, it doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen that way for Mr. Trump. The acrimony is too high.
That leads to an interesting cultural question: are we seeing even more of a segmenting between political persuasions? Will we come to a point when there are two parallel sides to the entertainment industry, as there currently are in politics and media? Sure, people who align with one particular political side tend to gravitate, in general, toward a specific type of movies and music, however, has there been a time when one side of the political aisle was essentially divorced from all popular entertainment media?
The question is especially poignant when juxtaposed over the words of President Kennedy, which his daughter, Caroline, recited at the beginning of the Kennedy Center Honors ceremony. Kennedy’s vision of an America that is committed to "the rule of law, to religious tolerance, and racial justice, to nuclear disarmament, and scientific innovation . . . "seems to be standard political talking points . . . but in today’s marketplace of ideas, the meaning and intent behind those terms are being hotly debated.
Everything about America’s future has become a political hot button, and that acrimony is leaching into nearly every aspect of American life. Where once NASA and scientific inquiry united the country, now it divides it along political lines. Where a strong economy and American industry were once something both "sides" saw as a universal force for good, these issues have become contentious.
With all that in mind, it makes sense for Mr. Trump to skip the Kennedy Center Honors. Where entertainment can be — and often is — political, it also serves as an escape from the political realities of the day. That truth used to be one everyone agreed on. Maybe it will be again.
Ronn Torossian is one of America’s foremost Public Relations executives as founder/CEO of 5WPR, a leading independent public relations Agency. The firm was honored as PR Firm of the Year by The American Business Awards, and has been named to the Inc. 500 List. Torossian is author of the best-selling "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations." For more of Ronn Torossian's reports, Go Here Now.
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.