Director Ava DuVernay boycotted Super Bowl LIII in support of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. The boycott is to protest the NFL for disregarding Kaepernick's peaceful protest during games.
During a summer 2016 game against the Green Bay Packers, Kaepernick chose to sit during the national anthem as a form of peaceful protest. His goal was to draw attention to oppressed people of color who may have been otherwise ignored, and Kaepernick later transitioned from sitting to kneeling. While his actions were applauded by some, they divided others, with some claiming that his actions were un-American. However, though none of the players involved with Super Bowl LIII followed suit and kneeled during the game's national anthem, DuVernay announced that she would spend the evening supporting his protest by enacting a protest of their own - and some other celebrities shared her sentiment.
DuVernay, who is best known for directing films like Selma, A Wrinkle in Time, and the Academy Award-nominated documentary 13th, announced on Twitter that she would protest Super Bowl LIII in honor of Kaepernick. She referred to the NFL's treatment of Kaepernick as "racist" and insisted that watching the game wasn't worth compromising her beliefs. She said:
"I will not be a spectator, viewer or supporter of the #SuperBowl today in protest of the @NFL’s racist treatment of @Kaepernick7 and its ongoing disregard for the health + well-being of all its players. To watch the game is to compromise my beliefs. It’s not worth it. #ImWithKap"
I will not be a spectator, viewer or supporter of the #SuperBowl today in protest of the @NFL’s racist treatment of @Kaepernick7 and its ongoing disregard for the health + well-being of all its players. To watch the game is to compromise my beliefs. It’s not worth it. #ImWithKap pic.twitter.com/fNEeke0crs— Ava DuVernay (@ava) February 3, 2019
Following DuVernay's stance in support of Kaepernick, celebrities like Spider-Man: Far From Home's Zendaya and Common showed their support of Kaepernick over social media. The mass of support included the Twitter hashtag: #ImWithKap. And, though the protest and support did not raise any noticeable awareness during the game itself, with no one kneeling during the national anthem, DuVernay's tweet managed to earn nearly 50,000 likes and over 15,000 retweets - so, her message was clearly received.
With the divisiveness that Kaepernick's protest has sparked, it's not likely that celebrity protests in support of Kaepernick will do much in terms of earning new advocates. Those for or against his stance appear to be unyielding. That said, DuVernay is typically attached to films that refer to injustices against persons of color, so her decision to expand her personal views beyond film and into a current event is very much aligned with her MO. That said, the game wasn't completely without a political message, as the season 3 TV spot for The Handmaid's Tale explicitly told America to "wake up."
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019