It's another White Man Redemption Story, starring Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon, whose ratings sunk after he infamously tousled then-candidate Donald Trump's hair.
[A]s Mr. Fallon is well aware, viewers haven't seen him in quite the same light since an interview he conducted with Mr. Trump in September, which was widely criticized for its fawning, forgiving tone. In a gesture that has come to haunt the host, he concluded the segment by playfully running his fingers through Mr. Trump's hair.There is much, much more at the link, where Fallon is described as "boyish," "self-deprecating," and "multitalented but apolitical."
Mr. Fallon acknowledges now that the Trump interview was a setback, if not quite a mistake, and he has absorbed at least a portion of the anger that was directed at him by critics and online detractors.
"They have a right to be mad," a chastened Mr. Fallon said in an interview this month. "If I let anyone down, it hurt my feelings that they didn't like it. I got it."
..."I don't want to be bullied into not being me, and not doing what I think is funny," he said more defiantly. "Just because some people bash me on Twitter, it's not going to change my humor or my show."
...That day had been a particularly contentious one for Mr. Trump, then the Republican presidential nominee: In a Washington Post interview, he refused to say that President Obama was born in the United States, and his son Donald Jr. was being criticized for saying "they'd be warming up the gas chamber" if Republicans behaved as Democrats did.
Mr. Fallon's questions, however, were mostly innocuous; he asked Mr. Trump why children should want to grow up to be president and if his business background had helped him in the campaign. Their conversation concluded with Mr. Fallon fulfilling his longstanding wish of ruffling Mr. Trump's hair.
...Speaking in a quiet, tentative tone, Mr. Fallon seemed to be reliving the experience as he recounted it.
"I'm a people pleaser," he said. "If there's one bad thing on Twitter about me, it will make me upset. So, after this happened, I was devastated. I didn't mean anything by it. I was just trying to have fun."
That last one, the narrative that Fallon is "apolitical," runs throughout the piece. It is, indeed, central to the redemption tale. It is also a lie.
Mocking and demeaning fat people is a political act. https://t.co/wKPPi7Hmlw— Melissa McEwan (@Shakestweetz) May 17, 2017
The very fact that he did a "good old boys" hair toussle w/ a male candidate who had a female opponent is a political act.— Melissa McEwan (@Shakestweetz) May 17, 2017
Only marking as "political" jokes that are about electoral politics is a position most people who don't have undiluted privilege can't take.— Melissa McEwan (@Shakestweetz) May 17, 2017
The profile goes to great lengths to impress upon us that Fallon is a nice guy, so well-intentioned, just trying to have a little middle-of-the-road fun. He feels so bad, bullied even, when we are mean to him.
Many of Fallon's famous friends show up to explain that Fallon just isn't an edgy, political guy. He wants to provide silly humor for as wide an audience as possible.
What we are meant to understand is that Jimmy Fallon just doesn't pick sides, okay?
No. That's not okay.
It wasn't okay when Fallon ruffled Trump's hair before the election, and it sure as shit isn't okay now that Trump is president.
Trump is unlike, in countless ways, any president the United States has had before. Chiefly, he is an authoritarian with aggressive hostility for our democratic institutions. He is waging war against the intelligence community, the courts, and the media. He questions the integrity of elections, and oversees chants bellowing for the incarceration of political opponents who have committed no crime. He is a grifter who is using the office of the presidency to enrich himself and his family. He is dangerously incompetent at best, and, at worst, has committed treason. He is an inveterate bigot, a bully, and a repeat sexual assaulter.
And that isn't even a comprehensive list. In the last week alone, he has betrayed an ally to a foreign adversary and fired the FBI Director who was investigating his administration, in a naked attempt to consolidate power and subvert the justice system. That is not the act of a president, but of a dictator.
Our very republic is at risk. If you don't pick resistance, you are picking acceptance. You are picking abetting a coup.
There is no neutral anymore. Not for Jimmy Fallon, and not for any of us.