Bloody Crossroads 2020
By: Danny Goldberg - Akashic Books, $25.95
Description: Bloody Crossroads 2020 is a deep dive into the role that mass-appeal movies, television, videos, and music played in Donald Trump’s failed reelection campaign, including brand-new interviews with some of the major players.
Verdict: Although there existed a decades-old tradition of “liberal Hollywood,” Trump’s ascension to the presidency in 2016 triggered an unprecedented level of engagement by artists and performers.
Within days of the 2016 election, a critical mass of entertainers, from teenagers to the last survivors of the World War II generation—blockbuster movie stars, art-film auteurs, Broadway dramatists, comedians, and musicians from the worlds of classical, country, pop, rock, R&B, and hip-hop—all seemed to have heard the tom-tom beat of resistance at the same moment and amplified a moral alternative to Trumpism.
That level of engagement intensified with rare passion and purpose in the period of 2020 chronicled in Bloody Crossroads 2020 — the Democratic primaries, the COVID-19 pandemic, the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd, the conviction of sexual predator Harvey Weinstein, and the 2020 general election campaign — culminating in Trump’s failed insurrection.
As Donald Trump makes his argument for four more years, we found ourselves looking at the impact he had had those past four, and you cannot do that without looking at the press.
It had been a mutual obsession. The media had covered him wall-to-wall, and he, in turn, had fixated on that coverage, using his various platforms to praise or call out newsrooms and journalists in a way never seen before by an American president.
Thus taking the reins of this book back again, and telling it like it is, Bloody Crossroads 2020 is a hard read at times, the way it delves into social aspects of the events themselves - both pre and post - and the avenues it has exhaustively researched can run a little long and such, but the book draws from brand-new interviews (with such notables as: Bruce Springsteen, John Legend, Rosanne Cash, David Simon, Adam McKay, Chuck D, David Corn, Mandy Patinkin, and many more) does add a well-appreciated layer of gravitas to the unfolding story.
It also explores the important political activities of entertainers like Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah, Taylor Swift, Cardi B, Alyssa Milano, Mark Ruffalo, Jane Fonda, Robert De Niro, Bette Midler, Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Ava DuVernay, Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock, and Wanda Sykes.
Thus, Bloody Crossroads 2020 expertly dissects and celebrates how the empowering actions of artists and entertainers helped a record turnout of everyday citizens realize a triumphant 2020 election.
In closing, I will leave you with a quote from Roseanne Cash on the book and her personal feelings therein: “Bloody Crossroads 2020 is a riveting and thoughtful tour of the role artists played in resisting the horrors of the Trump presidency. Danny Goldberg provides a bracing and thorough recollection that is both a service and a reminder for artists to stay engaged and awake.”
“To counter those who continually tell me to Shut up and sing, I will buy a couple of crates of this book and get my marching boots polished. Thank you, Danny, for reminding me how it went down, and where it might go.”
About the Author Danny Goldberg is the author of the acclaimed books How The Left Lost Teen Spirit, Bumping into Geniuses, In Search of the Lost Chord: 1967 and the Hippie Idea (Akashic, 2017) and Serving the Servant: Remembering Kurt Cobain.
He began his career in 1969 with Billboard, for whom he reviewed the Woodstock Festival, and later wrote for Rolling Stone and Crawdaddy. He worked as a personal manager for Nirvana, Bonnie Raitt, the Allman Brothers Band, and Sonic Youth, and was president of several major record companies.
He currently runs Gold Village Entertainment, a management company whose clients include Steve Earle, Martha Wainwright, and the Waterboys. Goldberg is former chair of the ACLU of Southern California, serves on the board of Public Citizen, and frequently writes about politics and culture for the Nation.
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