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This Susan Sarandon Interview Is the Best White Privilege PSA on the Internet

Before the election, Susan Sarandon was a–let’s put this mildly–vocal Bernie Sanders supporter. Even after the primary, she continued to publicly condemn Hillary Clinton and even went so far as to say in an interview with Chris Hayes that a Trump presidency is possibly preferable to a Clinton one because if we can’t have Bernie, at least Trump would “bring the revolution immediately.”

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Now, these views are, of course, her right to hold. But it’s also then within our rights to call her out for them, especially when she has such a giant platform, and chooses this as how to use it.

Sarandon, along with activist/filmmaker Josh Fox, went back on All In With Chris Hayes Wednesday night to catch up and check in to see if she still stands by those original comments, to see if she stands by her Bernie-or-Bust viewpoint now that we have, most definitely, bust.

The short version: yep. Here’s a standout quote that seems to sum up her viewpoint:

I think that I absolutely feel that talking about blaming people for what happened is really wasting your time and energy. Because what we have now is a populace that is awake.

Except that, from where a lot of us were standing, that populace was already awake. Especially those who were at risk of being directly impacted by any of the issues at stake in the election.

The only one here who seems to still have their head buried in the sand is Sarandon, whose personal brand of revolutionary idealism, even now, is reduced to one single issue: the Dakota Access Pipeline.

And again, that’s her prerogative. We all have issues that are higher on our own personal lists of priorities. But Sarandon’s approach here reads like the script for a PSA on privilege, refusing to acknowledge that there are a lot of people who don’t have the luxury of waiting for or suffering through this “revolution.” Sarandon is an outspoken activist–she does give time and money and effort to her political beliefs. But she is not at the ground level of the revolt she’s still optimistic for. She is not at risk of being deported, of losing her health insurance, of being the victim of a hate crime or any number of discriminatory bills. Susan Sarandon will be just fine. And therefore she is in a position where she can pick and choose which single issue is more important than all others, condemning everyone who doesn’t share her specific beliefs as being sellouts or opportunists.

Hayes attempts throughout the interview to talk about the larger issue of what it means to be living through a Trump presidency, asking, “Could you look me in the eyes, both of you, and say, ‘Yes, 24 days into the Trump administration, this is about what I expected it would be?”

Sarandon’s response is to ask “What is the point of even saying that?” I’m not sure why she thinks she’s there if not to talk about her thoughts on that very question, but, fine. She then asks him, “Can you look me in the eyes and tell me you are doing your job to cover these issues completely?” to which he immediately responds, “Yes, I can.”

Still, she questions Hayes’ dedication to covering the DAPL. And not just that, but she chooses the disturbingly Trumpian route of attempting to snidely discredit him and his profession, asking “You’re a journalist, right? You consider yourself a journalist?” Because if he’s not reading the headlines she wants to hear, then it’s, what? “Fake news”?

She grills Hayes for not spending enough time covering the one issue she finds important, making it clear she thinks he and the rest of the media weren’t doing their jobs. He fires back, “Excuse me, I spend all day covering things,” and reminds her that there are countless important issues worth covering–so many that none can really ever get the full coverage they deserve.

And yet even when Hayes shifts the conversation to talk about the DAPL, as Sarandon keeps insisting, it still doesn’t work out in her favor. Where Hayes talks specific policy issues, Sarandon and Fox respond in platitudes like “the country was already fracked” and  “you can’t win an election without voter enthusiasm.”

When Hayes asks what leverage the anti-DAPL movement has over Trump’s administration now that he’s in office, they talk about Americans divesting their money out of banks that fund pipelines and the power of protest. Which, of course, would still be methods available under a Clinton administration, and only serves to highlight her incredibly narrow view of the political climate.

I’m all for celebrities talking about politics. Not only is it their absolute right to do so, they have the ability to stir up that enthusiasm Sarandon and Fox were talking about. But this kind of privileged bubble-bound discussion isn’t helping anyone. This isn’t even about anyone’s specific beliefs. It’s about being an obstacle to actual, productive conversation, which, congratulations Susan Sarandon, you very much are.

(image via YouTube)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.

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