Want a dose of hope? No matter how winded you are by the future ramifications of a Donald Trump presidency, the kids are not going to remain silent about it. On Friday, I witnessed Jaden Smith and Shia LaBeouf at the "He Will Not Divide Us" live stream exhibit at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, New York. The two performers were gathered with anyone who needed to gather. Spending a few minutes with a bunch of people, mostly teens, who were fired up and ready to go was just the charge I needed.
The exhibit, which opened on Inauguration Day and will remain open for the entire four years of Trump's term, is simple: There is a camera outside of the museum with the words "He Will Not Divide Us" printed above it. To participate, you just stand in front of the camera and repeat the affirmation to the world. Anyone can watch on the live stream the camera is connected to. The exhibit was created by LaBeouf, Rönkkö, & Turner.
When I arrived to the exhibit at around 3:30 p.m. on Friday, the scene was primarily teenagers, save one older gentleman playing guitar. The Museum of the Moving Image is across the street from the Frank Sinatra High School for the Performing Arts, and school had just let out. It wasn't exactly the Fame scene I might have imagined (so sorry, kids, I'm sure you get that all the time), but it was pretty cool to see students with French horn cases for any kind of cause.
I think I overheard one girl say "that was a good wake-up," and a middle-aged woman nearby was thanking the youth and asking them to save us all. Honestly, I concur. I also heard Kylie Jenner's name come up a few times in the crowd convo, but I'm pretty sure that was just the kids spreading rumors.
I am sorry to report that I couldn't see Smith up close with my own eyes through the hoard of dancing and excited students, but based on the squeals and triumphant cries of "I got it! I'm a legend!" coming from a kid talking about meeting him, I'm confident that he was somewhere in that crowd. Even if some kids were mainly there to get selfies with the stars, I'm not mad. I believe in everyone's ability to multitask.
In front of the camera, a group was gathered, hugging, and chanting "he will not divide us." One kid was proudly telling everyone he knew that he had effectively confiscated Smith's forgotten Starbucks cup. I'll give him a pass. I hope he keeps that cup forever.
It took a few minutes from where I was standing, but I finally spotted LaBeouf's red winter cap in the circle of youths, stoically taking selfies. Can you see it below? Very Where's Waldo of him.
I came back half an hour later to try to get closer to the camera. It was raining, and the crowd had mostly dissipated. LaBeouf had plopped a T-shirt on his head to stay dry, so I didn't recognize him at first. I watched him nod along with the kids chanting for the camera, looking pleased. Then, another dozen people surrounded him to take pictures and/or talk Trump.
Above, you can see me in the background in the black coat, swaying awkwardly and watching people swarm LaBeouf again out of the corner of my eye. The kids in front of the camera are chanting "Trump is trash," in between the agreed-upon slogan.
If you live in the New York area, or are visiting in the next four years, I definitely recommend checking out the exhibit — and the museum itself, actually. It's one of my favorites in the city, and not always on every tourist's list. "He Will Not Divide Us" served as a moment of relief on what has otherwise been a harrowing day. And there's probably a few more of those to come in the next four years.