Donald Trump skipped this year’s Kennedy Center Honors—the fourth time a president has done so in 40 years and the first time that it didn’t involve a national emergency or convention—but The New York Times says that his mere existence still cast a bit of a stupid shadow over the evening. Iconic TV producer Norman Lear, one of the honorees, dropped some fire regarding Trump’s absence, saying, “We happen to have somebody in the White House who doesn’t care about the arts and humanities,” and that he was “smart to stay away” since it’s “something he does on weekend anyway.”
Politics aside, though, this year’s Kennedy Center Honors gala was notable for a reason beyond giving some luminaries from the arts a chance to dunk on Trump in public. Specifically, LL Cool J was one of the honorees, making this the first time a rapper has been celebrated at the annual event. LL Cool J shared an Instagram post about the award, saying “we were sent to this planet to love and inspire one another.”
The other honorees, along with LL Cool J and Lear, were Carmen De Lavallade, Gloria Estefan, and Lionel Richie. The event will be shown on CBS on December 26.