"When they go low, we go high." - Michelle Obama, DNC, 2016
Kendrick Lamar's opening performance at the 2018 Grammys felt like an act of defiance against them in a lot of ways, a subversive, freeform display splicing hits with deep cuts that satirised the award ceremony 'medley' construct along with the ceremony itself. It proved to be apt, Kendrick - perhaps our greatest living musician - going on to lose in all major award categories to Bruno Mars during an often cringe-inducing night hosted by James Corden, the enemy of nuance.
The nadir came with a contrived sketch lifted from his Late Late Show (which, in spite of its time slot, appears to be aimed at preschoolers) in which John Legend, Cher, Snoop Dogg, Cardi B and DJ Khaled read excerpts from Michael Wolff's Trump exposé, Fire and Fury, as part of a made-up award entry for the Spoken Word field. I felt a bit sad for them, sat there doing what a celebrity must in 2018 to maintain pop cultural saturation, but then Hillary Clinton popped up as a final guest in the segment and my sadness swiveled toward humanity.
Here the 67th United States Secretary of State was, reading from a book that, while admittedly fascinating, was described by critics as "tabloidy" (CNN), "a compendium of gossip" (Vox) and "unverifiable" (everyone).
Citing questionable facts to attack a rival is something we would expect from Trump and expect him rightly to be pilloried in the press for, but here we were, invited to laugh along. You stick it to him, Hillary!
The egregiousness of this ill-conceived 'bit of fun' can't be overstated. "This is why Trump won" is a cliché by this point and one usually espoused by conservatives, with whom I have zero allegiance. But truly, this is why Trump won; by mocking opposing voters you'd assume Democrats would one day actually want to try and win over.
"Don’t ruin great music with trash," US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley tweeted of the skit. "Some of us love music without the politics thrown in it."
She's wrong. Politics is nearly always embedded in music somewhere and should very much be a part of discourse around it. A better tweet might have been: 'Some of us love politics/legitimate protest without the reductive and moronic viral hits thrown in it.'
It bears saying again and again; if we're to have any hope of getting rid of Trump and the Trump ideology that will still remain after his administration, we must be smarter with our acts of defiance and resist stooping to his childish, poisonous level.
Those leading liberal thought and movements must recognise this, and fast. Kendrick, who rarely talks about politics in brief and prefers to give it thorough treatment through his art, you'll notice did not take part in the skit.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies