In a campaign that’s taken on the trajectory of a Hollywood blockbuster — with about as many subplots and storyline shifts — it’s not surprising that the leading lights of the entertainment world are falling over themselves to give you their opinions on Election 2008.
And though listening to Tinseltown’s fawning and gushing over Barack Obama is about as appealing as watching any recent M Night Shyamalan movie, conservatives should welcome the growing politicization of Hollywood, because when Hollywood speaks, conservatives win.
Consider last Sunday’s Emmy Awards, during which Kirk Ellis accepted an award for writing the miniseries “John Adams” by proclaiming that his work gave him, “this amazing opportunity to talk about a period in our history when articulate men articulated complex thoughts in complete sentences.” (Though anyone who’s seen Obama speak sans teleprompter might beg to differ, the jab was clearly aimed at President Bush.)
Then there’s last weekend’s Saturday Night Live, which featured an opening sketch poking fun at John McCain. Nothing new there, but the skit was crafted by SNL alum Al Franken, who’s running for the U.S. Senate in Minnesota. It seemed never to have occurred to Franken, a Democrat who’s raised more money in Hollywood than in Minnesota, or SNL that a candidate for U.S. Senate writing a comedy sketch mocking the other party’s candidate for president might heighten the perception that the entertainment industry is in the tank for the Democrats.
Nor did it dawn on Whoopi Goldberg that her comments on The View about a relapse to slavery if John McCain becomes president might put off most viewers.
Nothing has stirred up Hollywood as much as the emergence of Sarah Palin. She has all the appeal of a Hollywood star but with very un-Hollywood values. She infuriates Hollywood not only because she has both style and substance, but because of the particular substance she has. She’s a mother of five, who packs heat and can field dress a moose with a baby on her hip, all while giving fits to the good ol’ boys network of the Alaskan political machine. She’s a feminist for life, a former beauty queen who embraces, rather than shuns, her femininity. Women are flocking to Palin because they look at her and can say: “I am Sarah Palin.”
During the MTV Video Music Awards, British comedian and awards host Russell Brand got personal with Palin’s family, offering his own disgusting take on Bristol Palin’s pregnancy before concluding about her fiancé, “That is the safe sex message of all time. Use a condom or become a Republican.”
Brand, who apparently is known in Britain but is obscure in the U.S., also repeatedly poked fun at young Christian pop stars the Jonas Brothers, who wear purity rings as a sign of sexual chastity. Brand began the evening by pleading, “Please, America, elect Barack Obama. On behalf of the world.” He later called President Bush, “that retarded cowboy fellow.”
Brand’s performance captured the essence of Obama’s popularity in both Hollywood and Europe. The Hollywood glitterati and European elites look at Obama and see one of their own: a socialist whose politics are rooted in cultural relativism and smug anti-Americanism.
In fact, Barack Obama is exactly like a high budget Hollywood flick. Like much of what Hollywood produces, Obama looks good to the eye and sounds good to the ear (as long as you don’t listen too closely). He dazzles with style and panache. But just like your typical Tinsletown blowout, Obama is nothing more than eye candy — the ultimate triumph of style over substance. In the wake of a number of extemporaneous gaffes, Obama recently decided to take his teleprompter on the road, just another sign of how scripted his campaign has become.
Just as one finds it increasingly difficult to walk away from a Hollywood movie and recall what it was all about 20 minutes later, Obama’s speeches are full of empty claptrap and meaningless locutions. His surrogates are often stumped when asked by reporters to name anything their candidate has actually accomplished or to lay out any policy proposals to back up his highfalutin rhetoric about hope and change.
No wonder Obama does so well with the film industry’s target demographic, the under-30 crowd. And no wonder TV ads comparing Obama to Paris Hilton and Brittany Spears have worked so well, and why they have been denounced so strongly by the Left — they hit a little too close to home. Like Spears and (especially) Hilton, Obama is famous mainly for being famous.
The public likes its politics and its entertainment. Rarely, however, does it want them to mingle. A 2007 Pew Research Center poll found that voters were much less likely to back a candidate endorsed by celebrities. For instance, an endorsement by Jay Leno made only 6 percent of respondents “more likely to vote” for a candidate, while 16 percent said it made them “less likely to vote” for the candidate, and 76 percent said it made no difference. Similar percentages were seen for all celebrities mentioned in the poll, including Angelina Jolie, Kanye West and Jon Stewart.
After Oprah endorsed Obama and started jetting across the country to appear with him at rallies, she experienced an immediate drop in viewership for her show and drop in readership for her magazine. A businesswoman first, Oprah quickly stopped appearing at Obama rallies and praising him on her show.
You’d think Obama would realize Hollywood’s infatuation doesn’t exactly endear him to the voters he needs most: middle income Midwesterners who naturally recoil from Hollywood’s values. But Obama can’t get enough of their love, or their money. He recently attended a multi-million dollar fundraiser hosted by Barbra Streisand.
But it may be too late, because when it comes to politics, Hollywood just can’t shut up. And by Election Day, conservatives might even conclude that Hollywood hasn’t done this much good for our cause since it gave us Ronald Reagan.