Conservatives and supporters of President Donald Trump have collectively taken to social media on the eve of the 89th annual Academy Awards to encourage a boycott of the film business’s biggest night, as Hollywood insiders and industry observers predict Sunday night’s show could be the most politicized in recent memory.
In a recent Facebook post, a conservative group called the Tempe Republican Women called on Trump supporters to avoid watching the Oscars to send a message to “arrogant, bitter, angry and divisive” anti-Trump Hollywood celebrities.
“These arrogant, pompous, pampered soulless individuals declare that half of Americans are racist, sexist, and bigoted for voicing our political choice through Donald Trump,” the group wrote, mentioning by name actresses Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lawrence and singers Madonna and Miley Cyrus. “Yet there can be no doubt that the entertainment industry does more to exploit, degrade, minimize, and stereotype women than Donald Trump or any other industry ever has.”
The group’s Facebook post was picked up by news outlets including the UK Telegraph and industry outlet The Wrap, and those reports were in turn linked to in numerous social media posts by Trump-supporting accounts Sunday morning, just hours before the glitzy ceremony was set to begin.
Expectations for a politically-charged Oscars were sky-high in the days leading up to the event, as actors, singers and other celebrities have repeatedly used platforms at awards shows this year like the Golden Globes, Grammys and SAG Awards to publicly criticize Trump and the policies of his administration.
At the Golden Globes in January, actress Meryl Streep — nominated for a record 20th time at the Oscars this Sunday — delivered a stinging rebuke of Trump while accepting a lifetime achievement award from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
“Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence,” Streep said in a speech that saw her take aim at what she called the president’s “instinct to humiliate.”
At Saturday night’s Film Independent Spirit Awards, a laid-back awards ceremony held each year the evening before the Oscars that celebrates the best in independent film, Manchester by the Sea star Casey Affleck — nominated for Best Actor Sunday night — used his acceptance speech to criticize what he called Trump’s “abhorrent” and “un-American” policies.
Streep will be a presenter at this year’s Oscars, and Affleck will be on hand hoping to triumph over Ryan Gosling (La La Land) and Denzel Washington (Fences) in the acting category, leading some observers to speculate that stars will again use the awards show stage to deliver political opinions. Oscars host Jimmy Kimmel has at times also spoken out against Trump’s administration, and could use the host’s traditional opening monologue to skewer the president.
Meanwhile, Asghar Farhadi, the Iranian director of the Oscar-nominated film The Salesman, will sit out the awards show to protest Trump’s temporary ban on immigration from seven countries, which was blocked by the 9th Circuit Court this month. A win for Farhadi could lead to more politicized moments at the show.
One unnamed Hollywood “insider” predicted to the Telegraph that this year’s Oscars would be “the most political for a number of years.”
“Now agents are unleashing their stars to say what they will,” the insider said. “They are telling their clients they are not going to lose anything.”
The 89th Academy Awards air Sunday, February 26 at 8:30 ET on ABC.