Some people want politics to infuse everything. And for them, staying neutral isn’t an option; their attitude is “You’re either with us, or you’re against us.”
Take for example Vox.
Vox recently published an article criticizing Dolly Parton for refusing to take sides in politics. The article, titled “How Dolly Parton became a secular American saint,” calls her near universal popularity a “sort of hysterical and highly trendy adoration” before spending much of the rest of the piece complaining because Parton has largely refrained from expressing political opinions during her career.
“Dolly Parton is beloved because she has devoted her career to standing for love. And, usefully, she is willing to be ambiguous about what exactly that love means and how much it includes people that those on different sides of the political aisle consider their enemies,” the article says. “But in a post-Trump America, is Dolly Parton’s love enough?”
Later, the article says that “America in the 21st century is no time for a secular pop saint. And there’s a dark side to Dolly’s ability to appeal, Christ-like, to all people at all times.”
Parton has donated more than 100 million books to kids around the world in order to help foster a love of reading at an early age. She also donated money to help fund the development of a coronavirus vaccine, and then waited until her turn to receive her shot because she didn’t want to jump the line.
Is that the dark side of Parton’s appeal that the author is referring to?
When lawmakers in her home state of Tennessee wanted to honor the singer by erecting a statute of her on the Capitol lawn in Nashville, the country music superstar declined the honor, saying now is not the right time to be celebrated.
The Vox article quotes something Parton told The Guardian in 2019: “I’ve got as many Republican friends as I’ve got Democrat friends and I just don’t like voicing my opinion on things.” The article then recounts a time at the Emmy Awards when Parton’s “9 to 5” co-stars Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin criticized President Trump, and a visibly uncomfortable Parton refused to take part in criticizing the president.
Fonda started the barb by saying “Back in 1980, when we made [“9 to 5”], we refused to be controlled by a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot,” to which Tomlin said, “In 2017 we still refuse to be controlled by a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot.”
Parton sidestepped the implied attack on Trump by pretending the comment was about the movie’s villain. Parton later spoke about the incident and explained why she reacted the way she did, telling The Guardian that “I don’t really like getting up on TV and saying political things. I don’t even want to make a deal out of it, but I want people to know I’m my own individual self. Even though [Fonda, Tomlin, and I] may agree on a whole lot of things… I still have my own thoughts and my own way of doing things.”
And thus Dolly Parton is not political enough for Vox.