While plenty of jokes and comments about our current political reality were made onstage at last night’s Academy Awards, Audible went out of its way to make commercials to criticize the White House. In two spots that aired last night, the Amazon-owned audiobook company used literature to attack the administration, without ever even saying Donald Trump’s name.
In the first spot, Homeland’s Claire Danes reads a passage from Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. “Society is to blame for not providing free public education,” Danes recites, “and society will answer for the obscurity it produces.” By the end of the reading, the passage becomes a clear indictment of Trump and newly installed education secretary Betsy DeVos, who is right now pushing for alternatives to public schools.
Later, Star Trek’s Zachary Quinto read from George Orwell’s 1984, which currently sits on at the #9 spot on Amazon’s Bestseller list after shooting to #1 after the inauguration. “If he were allowed contact with foreigners,” Quinto reads, “he would discover that they are creatures similar to himself, and that most of what he had been told about them is lies.” It’s an obvious dig at the recent temporary travel ban and Trump’s “America First” rhetoric that have alarmed and outraged the country’s immigrants and their allies.
Audible’s YouTube channel is full of new spots with similar messages, and the point is obvious: use literature, celebrity, and technology to fight the ideology pouring out of the White House. The spots make the Oscars, after the Super Bowl, the second major event this month to feature ads that attacked the president. Only this time, there’s really no question about whether or not the attacks were intentional.