In the era of President Donald Trump, the United States is entering a new stage in the country's history where there is polarization on the political spectrum and a different culture we have yet to experience. We live in a time where encountering politics on a daily basis is an expected routine for most Americans. We live in a time where politics are entrenched in every aspect of American life. The politicization of everything makes the toxic world of politics inescapable for most Americans as political culture becomes popular culture. We have also become acclimated to this shift. Now, we expect celebrities to criticize our president at award ceremonies, football players to kneel during the national anthem and news agencies adding their spin to facts.
The danger associated with this shift is actions once seen as unifying to Americans is now taking a political stance. If you watch the NFL, you have to either reinforce or oppose those who kneel, or if you buy an artist's music, you agree or disagree with their political message. If society continues to progress in this direction, we may reach a point where no action can be seen as apolitical as culture becomes further engrossed in the divisive world of American politics.
Political ideology is currently made up of an individual's identity that infects other, seemingly unrelated, areas of American life. This intrusion into American popular culture can be seen clearly in the political bias and politicization of the entertainment industry. The American entertainment industry's main goal of the past used to be just that, entertainment, but now the aim has shifted to propagating a political agenda. The Academy Awards have transformed from a celebration of excellence on screen to a platform that enflames political tensions.
According to Ben Zauzmer of the New York Times, regarding last year's Oscar nominees, "75 percent of…nominees feature political themes."
This political trend extends far beyond the movie industry and into the realm of late-night comedy. Late-night hosts once aimed to make the American people laugh by any way they can, but now late-night comedy serves as nothing more a left-wing, political platform that crucifies anyone who dares deviate from their doctrine.
Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon is far more moderate than his counterparts, such as Stephen Colbert, Samantha Bee and Jimmy Kimmel, and this restraint, according to Karl Salzmann of National Review, sees Fallon "excoriated by the media for failing to attack Trump. The most popular television hosts broach politics every night for laugh-lines, from their own liberal point of view. The apolitical, the unifying, is turned political and divisive again."
Jimmy Fallon is criticized by liberal news outlets for not going to extremes on political stances because he understands the American people do not enjoy when comedians shove their political agenda down their throats.
But when Fallon attempts to distance himself from the nastiness of the political arena, people like Alexander Nazaryan of Newsweek write, "Fallon's apolitical stance was becoming indefensible as election turned into transition, Obama handing the keys to American democracy to a driver you wouldn't trust in an empty parking lot."
Left-wing news outlets and political think tanks have bought into the myth that entertainment and comedy cannot coexist apart from taking a political stance in their work.
However, the ideological realm of political thought extends beyond the entertainment industry, however. Unbeknownst to the American people, their political philosophy influences several aspects of their lives. How Americans view each other and their value as people is thrown into question by where they stand politically.
According to Paul Taylor and a study conducted by the Pew Research Center, "Democrats and Republicans no longer stop at disagreeing with each other's ideas. Many in each party now deny the other's facts, disapprove of each other's lifestyles, avoid each other's neighborhoods, impugn each other's motives, doubt each other's patriotism, can't stomach each other's news sources, and bring different value systems to such core social institutions as religion, marriage and parenthood. It's as if they belong not to rival parties but alien tribes."
Politics breed this toxic attitude toward one another where we do not see our political opponents as people of good intention but rather as immoral, ignorant or intolerant.
The hostile attitudes birthed in Washington continue to corrupt all American perspectives of political opposition. This is the danger of politicizing culture. We are unable to empathize with those whom we disagree because politics has decided Democrats and Republicans are meant to argue, and this toxic mentality has been confirmed by the American culture. We must remove the parasite that is politics from our unique culture, so we may reach across the aisle to treat one another as Americans, a characteristic which unifies all of us.