On August 27, Twitter followers of comedian Jim Gaffigan were treated to a stream of profanity-laced tweets when the comedian, notorious for his clean, family-friendly comedy, laid into President Trump, criticizing his administration and calling him a “liar and a criminal.”
The tweets began rolling in around midnight, after Trump’s speech on the last night of the Republican National Convention.
It may not seem like big news that another Hollywood celebrity spoke out publicly against the president, but anyone familiar with Gaffigan or his comedy knows just how big of a leap these tweets were for the man who typically resigns himself to poking fun at hot pockets and adults who go to Disneyland.
Look Trumpers I get it. As a kid I was a cubs fan and I know you stick by your team no matter what but he's a traitor and a con man who doesn't care about you. Deep down you know it. I'm sure you enjoy pissing people off but you know Trump is a liar and a criminal.
— Jim Gaffigan (@JimGaffigan) August 28, 2020
Gaffigan, 54, made a name for himself as a comedian able to draw massive crowds despite never delving into taboo topics.
With several comedy albums and specials, as well as a television series and numerous film and television acting credits, it’s fair to say that Gaffigan is both well-known and well-respected in his field.
But the comedian, who has never before stepped foot into the realm of political commentary, risked it all by tweeting furiously, expressing his blatant distaste for the Trump Administration.
“Remember everything Trump accuses the Democrats of he’s guilt of. Dont let the socialist name calling distract you from the fact he is a fascist who has no belief in law,” Gaffigan also tweeted that night.
Gaffigan received a fair amount of backlash from fans who were angry that he was delving into politics — especially from those who disagreed with him.
Mark Dice tweeted, “I never really laughed at your jokes, but I’m laughing at you now! Hahaha.”
I never really laughed at your jokes, but I’m laughing at you now! hahaha
— Mark Dice (@MarkDice) August 28, 2020
And that was one of the kinder critical replies.
In a Facebook post from the following Sunday, Gaffigan wrote about how he didn’t regret tweeting what he did, but he also felt threatened by those expressing anger for the topics he spoke about.
“I learned early in my stand-up career people don’t want to hear about politics from me. I knew me talking politics wasn’t changing any minds and was only alienating half of the audience,” he wrote. “So if I believe I won’t sway any voters, why speak out like I did? Honestly, I feel I had no choice at this point. I think Trump is ruining and possibly has already ruined my country.”
Gaffigan also wrote about the numerous personal threats he had received since the series of tweets, only further emphasizing the massive divide between political parties in the United States.
Even among the threats and criticism, Gaffigan hasn’t backed down. He hasn’t taken back a word of what he said, and likely never will.
Someone like Gaffigan, a down-to-earth comedian from the Midwest, has more political sway with rural and conservative voters than someone more traditionally “Hollywood,” making his political announcement all the more important in the fight to ensure Trump does not earn a second term in office.
Gaffigan is not the only previously apolitical celebrity who recently spoke out in favor of liberal politicians. Taylor Swift, a mega-popular musician who built her career around being seen as an innocent, young country girl, voiced her support for a liberal candidate in the 2018 midterm elections, encouraging her fans to register to vote and consequently prompting thousands of new voters to register.
While there may be no way to numerically determine the significance of Gaffigan finally voicing his support for Biden, it highlights a recent change in the entertainment industry where it is now becoming more acceptable — and even profitable — to express political opinions.
Less than twenty years ago, the Dixie Chicks were publicly vilified for expressing their frustration with the Bush administration, proving for all celebrities that staying silent was the best course of action if they wanted to keep their careers.
But things are different now.
More and more celebrities are vocalizing their political beliefs and becoming involved in political and social activism. The recent Black Lives Matter protests drew dozens of celebrities to the streets to protest along with thousands of other citizens.
— Jim Gaffigan (@JimGaffigan) August 31, 2020
None of these celebrities were vilified. None lost their careers. For the most part, they were celebrated. Fans were thrilled that their favorite actors, musicians and comedians shared the same beliefs as they did.
And while celebrity endorsements may not be the most important thing to a political campaign, they do help young voters become aware of issues they might not have otherwise known or cared about. Thousands of Swifties were certainly convinced to take action after their idol told them how important it was.
In summation, politics are cool now. Even if Gaffigan coming out against Trump only changes a few minds, every vote counts, especially in the more rural areas where Gaffigan, and all of his clean, family-friendly comedy, might be more respected. Think of what could happen if more famously apolitical celebrities finally broke their silence.