President Trump’s inaugural festivities lacked the kind of high-wattage star power that the women’s marches across the country attracted on Saturday.
And while Madonna, Janelle Monae and Scarlett Johansson did address the hundreds of thousands of people gathered on the National Mall, plenty of A-listers showed up to the event without taking to the stage.
There was Katy Perry, who has performed many times for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, leading chants in Washington’s streets.
Julia Roberts was spotted wearing a pussyhat in Washington.
Amy Poehler and Lena Dunham hanging out near the National Museum of the American Indian.
Emma Watson saying hi to fellow rally-goers.
Felicity Huffman standing on a concrete barrier, holding a “love trumps hate” sign.
Maggie Gyllenhaal and her brother Jake on the streets.
— Maggie Gyllenhaal (@mgyllenhaal) January 21, 2017
Similar marches around the country attracted celebrities, too. The Park City, Utah, rally became a star-studded affair, as it coincided with the Sundance Film Festival. Nick Offerman decked out in pink. Charlize Theron and Kristen Stewart were in the crowd. Chris O’Dowd tried to remain inconspicuous.
— Gina Rodriguez (@HereIsGina) January 22, 2017
Politicians and pundits have continued to debate the relevance of celebrity support for a cause. During the presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton’s events featured artists who regularly sell out stadiums (Beyoncé and Bruce Springsteen, for example). Trump had Scott Baio.
Trump responded to weeks of headlines about the lack of big names at his inaugural events by claiming many stars wanted to come but he wanted “the people,” he tweeted. And, he has pointed out, those A-listers didn’t help Clinton.
It’s a critique he repeated after Saturday’s marches when he tweeted “celebs hurt cause badly.”
Watched protests yesterday but was under the impression that we just had an election! Why didn't these people vote? Celebs hurt cause badly.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 22, 2017
Using one’s fame to bring attention — however inelegantly or gracefully — to a political cause has a long tradition in this country. From award speeches about the treatment of Native Americans to Capitol Hill testimony about war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, entertainers have often tried to use their status to amplify serious issues.
But on Saturday, many famous folks attended marches in a more low-key manner. Their fame wasn’t the platform they stood upon — it became an accessory, like the pussyhats adorning their heads.
If anything, many of the famous in attendance benefited from aligning themselves with the movement’s messages. A number documented their experience in declarations of solidarity that also underscored the cultural cachet that comes with showing you participated in such an event.
Besides, more than a million people showed up to events across the country. These marches didn’t need a celebrity boost for the country to pay attention.