White House screens Finding Dory amid immigration ban protests
Two days after igniting worldwide protests with a heavily-crticized executive order blocking all refugees and immigrants from seven majority-Muslim nations from entering the United States, Donald Trump hosted a screening of Finding Dory at the White House — even as scores of detractors lined the perimeter of the executive mansion.
The screening was reportedly held Sunday at 3 p.m. ET, with presidential staff and their families in attendance. The Hollywood Reporter later confirmed reports that the Disney-Pixar film was shown inside 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue's family theater, carrying on a tradition that began over a century ago after Woodrow Wilson first screened D.W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation inside the White House in 1915.
According to White House press secretary Sean Spicer, Trump himself did not watch the film in its entirety, but rather "spent 60 seconds welcoming & thanking spouses & children of WH staff then right back to work" ahead of an evening call with South Korea.
Still, Trump's critics — including Finding Dory voice actor Albert Brooks — weren't happy about the symbolic disconnect between the White House's taste in movies and the president's apparent distaste for the nationwide pushback against the immigration ban, and quickly pointed out the irony of the situation.
"Odd that Trump is watching Finding Dory today," Brooks tweeted Sunday afternoon. "[It's] a movie about reuniting with family when he's preventing it in real life."
Finding Dory, a sequel to the 2003 blockbuster hit Finding Nemo, follows the titular blue tang, who embarks on an ocean-wide search for her long lost family. Ellen DeGeneres, who voiced Dory in both films, also addressed the ban, noting she believes "America is great because of all the people who came here. Not in spite of them" while using the hashtag #NoBan.
Writer and director Judd Apatow additionally used the screening to criticize Trump, comparing the reality show producer‘s attention span to that of Finding Dory‘s central character, who suffers from short-term memory loss.
Following the showing of Finding Dory, Trump released a statement in defense of the immigration ban.
"America is a proud nation of immigrants and we will continue to show compassion to those fleeing oppression, but we will do so while protecting our own citizens and border. America has always been the land of the free and home of the brave," it reads. "This is not about religion – this is about terror and keeping our country safe. There are over 40 different countries worldwide that are majority Muslim that are not affected by this order. We will again be issuing visas to all countries once we are sure we have reviewed and implemented the most secure policies over the next 90 days." <iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FDonaldTrump%2Fposts%2F10158567643610725&width=500" width="500" height="287" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" class="" allowfullscreen="" resize="0" replace_attributes="1" name=""></iframe>
Several Hollywood figures spoke out against Trump's ideals at Sunday's Screen Actors Guild Awards, including Sarah Paulson, who called for donations to the American Civil Liberties Union — an organization which successfully challenged the president's policy over the weekend — and Florence Foster Jenkins actor Simon Helberg who, alongside his wife, Jocelyn Towne, touted messages like "refugees welcome" and "let them in" while posing for photos on the event's red carpet.