Yesterday in Celebrity Social Media, I pointed to a comment Katherine Schwarzenegger made about her husband consistently falling to the bottom of the Best Chris rankings. It’s not that serious and, as pointed out here, relitigating the order of the Chrises is more habit than debate. (Christine Baranski is obviously superior to them all.)
The only constants in this life are death, taxes, and a 3-step Best Chris discourse that goes 1) â€œKill Chris Prattâ€ 2) â€œAm I the only one picking Chris Pine???â€ 3) â€œwHat abOuT ChRis MesSinaâ€— Kyle Buchanan (@kylebuchanan) October 20, 2020
But that’s not the only Chris Pratt discussion happening online. He’s been trending on Twitter for being an alleged MAGA supporter, a rumour that started because he doesn’t talk about politics. There is no reason to believe he supports Donald Trump; the only evidence is that he has made it a point to NOT talk politics. (Chris being a devout Christian is not evidence of how he will vote as Trump himself is not a true Christian by any measure.) The kind of assumption made about his politics does have precedent with other celebrities. When Taylor Swift didn’t come out against Trump in 2016, many assumed she supported him and she was also accused of not rejecting white supremacist incels who worship her. Her decision to declare herself against the current administration was such a big deal that it made up a significant part of her Netflix documentary.
There have been others, too. The Rock’s endorsement for Biden/Harris, his first ever, was so significant he had his own mini town hall. And there are very famous people who take the Pratt route (off the top of my head, I’m quite sure Kevin Hart hasn’t supported or disavowed anyone). But because this election is so combative, people are taking Chris’s silence as complacency at best, support for the red hat at worst. By not coming out against Trump, he is viewed as supporting him.
Last night, Robert Downey Jr, Don Cheadle, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Paul Rudd, Mark Ruffalo, and Zoe Saldana, alongside the Russo brothers, reunited for the Voters Assemble! event. And it’s easy to point out Chris Pratt for not being there, but there are others (like Chris Hemsworth and Jeremy Renner) who didn’t attend. Looking at it that way, I don’t think Chris’s non-participation is indicative of which way he votes.
But he’s still part of the conversation. I’m sure there’s an Avenger comparison to be made here about war and fighting and Thanos, but I don’t speak nerd so I’ll put it plainly: Chris’s co-stars have come to his defense, with RDJ taking aim at the comment section. (Note: Jeremy Renner liked the post.)
Mark Ruffalo is very politically active and here are his thoughts.
You all, @prattprattpratt is as solid a man there is. I know him personally, and instead of casting aspersions, look at how he lives his life. He is just not overtly political as a rule. This is a distraction. Letâ€™s keep our eyes on the prize, friends. We are so close now.— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) October 20, 2020
Here’s what I’m taking from Mark: Chris Pratt’s endorsement, at this point in the game, will not sway an election. It doesn’t matter all that much. Celebrities don’t decide elections (if they did, Hillary Clinton would have won in 2016). They are there to garner support, attention, and donations, but they are one vote. They have the right to speak on that vote as much as any other person, but they are not responsible for saving the US from another four years of poorly fitted suits and incompetent evil. But they are trying.
And, just for argument’s sake, what if he does vote Trump? Then what? Is this even a fair conversation to have? It’s sticky. US citizens have the right to a secret ballot, and celebrities are citizens. On the flip side, if his fans prioritize causes antithetical to the current administration (like Black Lives Matter) and he is silent on those issues, it’s understandable they’d want to pull their support or his work. He can make his choice and so can they.
What some of the fans are pointing out is that it isn’t just about Chris, but rather the way these two men rallied for him. There has been sustained vitriol directed at the women of the MCU (much like the women of Star Wars, Ghostbusters, Harley Quinn – you get the point) and for that, there wasn’t this “Avengers assemble!” moment. (For the record, this tweet says Chris has been accused of being a white supremacist but I couldn’t find the source of that.)
This brings up a larger issue of who society views as deserving of protection. Is Chris Pratt’s reputation more important than Brie Larson’s? Are his feelings more important than Tessa Thompson’s? Is his comfort more important than Zendaya’s? What they’ve done is in line with a society that gives the benefit of the doubt to certain people and disrespects others. Obviously this is not what RDJ and Mark Ruffalo intended to do, but intent doesn’t always line up with impact. The Avengers have tremendous cultural capital (that’s why they are campaigning so late in the game) and they know it. It would be just as powerful (maybe more) if RDJ and Mark extended this kind of protective energy to the superheroes that don’t look like them.