In The Know

In new book, celebs lay out their anti-Trump activism

John Legend
Associated Press-Jordan Strauss

An author, progressive activist and former music executive predicts that anti-Trump celebrities aren’t going away any time soon and will extend their advocacy well beyond 2024.

“I think that people, once they cross the bridge to decide they want to be part of the conversation, usually stay in it,” Danny Goldberg says.

The former personal manager for artists including Nirvana and Bonnie Raitt interviewed some of the most well-known performers who raised their voices against the former president — including Bruce Springsteen, John Legend and Rosanne Cash, among others — for his recently released book, “Bloody Crossroads 2020: Art, Entertainment, and Resistance to Trump.”

The book homes in on the “unprecedented level of political engagement” from Hollywood during the last presidential race.

“Not that I think anyone changed their vote or whether or not they like Donald Trump because of what Cardi B or Bruce Springsteen said,” Goldberg tells ITK, “but in terms of raising the level of urgency and intensity. And I think there are people that might have been reluctant voters or didn’t like either of the parties that got more engaged.”

Springsteen, who narrated a 2020 campaign ad for President Biden and frequently knocked former President Trump, calling him a “moron” who “doesn’t have a clue” about what it means to be an American, theorized to Goldberg why some Americans voted for the former New York real estate developer.

“The big one is race, race, race. How changes in demographics are creating a different kind of America and how that’s frightened a lot of people who feel the only thing they have is status based on race,” the “Thunder Road” singer said.

Legend, in his interview with the former music journalist, said, “Trump literally is the worst person we could imagine being president.”

“We felt even more urgency because he came from the celebrity world. We would see him at events,” Legend said of him and his wife, Chrissy Teigen.

“Chrissy and I always thought he was a joke, always thought he was an idiot, always thought he was full of shit.”

Goldberg asked “Homeland’s” Mandy Patinkin why a “disproportionate amount of artists seem to veer towards the left” in Hollywood.

“Some of us have heightened sensitivity to the human condition,” the actor replied.

“It’s the same quality that leads a lot of artists to kill themselves. Others survive and fight on to face the horror of inhumanity and find ways to act.”

What does Goldberg, who runs the artist management company Gold Village Entertainment, say to critics who bash the world’s entertainers taking on starring roles as political activists?

“I think when it’s from somebody from the opposite side, ideologically, it’s pretty suspect, because they seem to only criticize people that they disagree with politically, not to people that are on their side,” says Goldberg.

“I think there’s another syndrome of people who spend their lives in politics, whether they’re journalists or academics or, or campaign operatives or staffers who just bridle a little bit of people who are famous for other reasons weighing in on their turf.”

That’s not to say there aren’t some celebrities who are “stupid, or narcissistic, or counterproductive,” contends Goldberg, a former president at several major record labels. “But in general, I don’t think that the community is less serious or relevant when they’re communicating with the public about these things.”

Goldberg, 71, says that with the midterm elections coming up next year, the celeb caucus is likely to get their soapboxes ready.

“I think the real next thing that’s going to tell us about the longevity of this phenomenon is going to be the midterms because I think it’s going to be a nationalized midterms, and the level of intensity is going to be very great because the stakes are going to be so high.”

“My guess is that the majority of people who became active in the Trump years,” he says, “are going to stay active.”

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