Hollywood has always been politically conscious and vocal. This is not just restricted to political endorsements and campaign appearances for other candidates. Many in Hollywood have served in a variety of political positions reaching as high as the Presidency.
The elections of 2016 had most of Hollywood come out fervently in support and advocacy of Hillary Clinton. While the campaign for Clinton was passionate, there were scornful tirades directed towards Donald Trump. Even his supporters were not spared. The forums of these vitriolic outbursts, that often got profane, were not just political campaign rallies, but also expensive fund raisers, rock concerts, comedy shows, YouTube videos and talk shows. Finally, there were threats to leave the United States of America if Trump was elected because the country would crumble without them.
Despite all this, the people had made up their mind and on Nov 8, Trump secured an emphatic victory to become the 45th President of the USA. For all the Hollywood luminaries who supported Clinton and who are role models to many, the ideal move would have been to use their influence to bring the nation together, support the new President and work towards the betterment of the country. If they just couldn’t bring themselves to support a man they so despised, perhaps a dignified silence would have been appropriate to respect the popular mandate.
Instead, there was amplification of viciousness that commenced during the campaign. There was an endless and almost nauseating display of self-righteous indignation. Bruce Springsteen accused Trump of promoting “bigotry, racism and intolerance”. Comedienne Amy Schumer called Trump Voters “kicking, screaming babies”. Writer and actor Lena Dunham claimed that she broke out in hives and cried after the Trump victory. Charges of racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia and general bigotry were levelled against Trump.
But the worst of all was on display at the Golden Globes, when actress Meryl Streep was honored with a lifetime achievement award. Instead of thanking her audience and her colleagues, Streep launched into a spiteful attack against Trump. She began by suggesting that Hollywood is full of foreigners and if they were evicted from Hollywood, only mixed martial arts and football would be left. She didn’t bother with the detail that Trump is against illegal immigration, and not foreigners or legal immigrants.
Streep claimed Trump would try to muzzle the press. But all that Trump has said is that he will hold the press accountable and sue them if they report wrongly. That didn’t stop the audience – largely comprising of champagne sipping millionaires in gowns and tuxedoes worth thousands of dollars – from cheering and tearing up.
Let’s see how Hollywood ranks on the issues racism, sexism, xenophobia, and homophobia, the reason they give for hating Trump and his supporters.
How many leading men and women in Hollywood are non-white? You can count them on the fingers of a hand. Let’s try and think of leading men and women in Hollywood who originate from Asia? Practically none. Now let’s try and think of leading men and women in Hollywood from the LGBT community? Again, a mere handful. What about African American-themed movies that have won Oscars? Selma was largely ignored, despite being critically-acclaimed. Twelve Years A Slave won important awards, but missed out on Best Actor and Director.
What about the practice of white actors being cast as non-whites, like Emma Stone playing a character who is one quarter Chinese and one quarter Hawaiian or Jake Gyllenhaal as a Persian Prince? Or the racist exchange between liberal Democrat Hollywood bigshots Amy Pascal and Scott Rudin about President Obama’ s movie picks? Finally, there is a long record women being paid less and being subjected to humiliation and objectification at the hands of the powerful in Hollywood.
We also see Hollywood continue to laud and fund projects for the pedophile and accused-of-rape Roman Polanski. Despite being convicted of having sex with an underage girl, R Kelly continues to be celebrated. Rappers whose work often have lyrics that are anti-women and anti-police are regarded as poetic and musical geniuses. Clinton, whom Hollywood supported, has in the post demonised women who accused her husband of rape and sexual misconduct.
Do these people have any moral authority?
What most of the powers-that-be in Hollywood seem to forget is that every single endeavour in the entertainment industry relies upon the patronage of regular folk. The reason they have sprawling mansions, luxurious cars and yachts is because regular folk spent their hard-earned money on what Hollywood sells them. The superstardom comes from thousands who are less privileged going to enormous lengths just to glimpse their favorite star. If these regular folks turn their backs on Hollywood, there would be nothing left.
So from those regular folk to the likes of Streep, here’s a message. The audience doesn’t want to be lectured about how they should lead their lives, whom they should vote for or how deplorable they are if they do indeed have different political leanings. All they deserve is a big and profound “Thank You”.