Last December, Mark Wahlberg spoke out against celebrities speaking out regarding politics. He believes that Hollywood shouldn't use their public platforms for the political causes held nearest and dearest to their heart because...wait for it...Hollywood lives in a bubble and is out of touch with the people!
Of course, Wahlberg comes from such humble beginnings being from a large family of nine children and a former high school dropout, he gets a free pass to speak his mind about how celebrities should not speak their mind - at least according to him. He's one of the few that have managed to stay grounded and in touch with the American people and their concerns in life.
I'm not exactly sure the reason he's been able to remain outside "the bubble." I saw a 60 Minutes interview from 2013 where he proclaimed he was a daily churchgoer and avid basketball player amongst the common man. He also donated money to charity - like pretty much everybody else in Hollywood.
Nevermind, Wahlberg has also easily been within the top 2% in terms of financial wealth for over two decades and lives in a 30,000 square foot home with a fancy pool complete with a waterfall hand-chiseled out of the actual mountain backdrop.
But I suppose he does have a "Reality" TV show to prove otherwise. I've never watched it so I really don't know. Maybe he still is "Jenny from the Block."
But maybe a lot of other people in Hollywood are too. Maybe Wahlberg isn't the only one that hasn't forgotten what it was like growing up outside of Hollywood? Maybe they also haven't forgotten what it was like to be a struggling artist risking their entire life on some crazy dream that they could one day be a working actor?
Although there are Hollywood dynasty families within the entertainment industry and plenty of California locals, the bulk of this industry is made up of people from all walks of life from places all over the world.
During her recent Golden Globes acceptance speech for the Cecil B. Demille Award for lifetime achievement, Meryl Streep did an elegant and effective job pointing this out in one of the best examples of how celebrities can and should speak out about serious political concerns.
- Streep herself hails from the public schools in New Jersey.
- Viola Davis grew up in Central Falls, Rhode Island after being born in a sharecropper's cabin in South Carolina.
- Sarah Paulson is from Brooklyn and was raised by a single mom.
- Sarah Jessica Parker comes from a large family of eight kids from Ohio (that's in the ballpark of Wahlberg's family, right?)
- Amy Adams was born in Italy.
- Natalie Portman was born in Jerusalem.
- Ruth Negga was born in Ethiopia and raised in Ireland.
- Ryan Gosling is Canadian.
- Dev Patel was born in Kenya and raised in London.
For example, I recently attended a birthday gathering at Jones Hollywood on Santa Monica Blvd. I ended up chatting with a stand up comic/literature graduate student, two extremely successful voiceover actors, and two film and TV actors.
Only one person in the group was originally from LA. The others, including myself, come from states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, Arizona and Florida. All of us had varying success in our respective creative professions. All of us were also well aware of our childhoods and what life was like living in our respective parts of the country. We all were still in weekly contact with family and friends we had remaining in our birth states. All I'm saying is I'm quite confident that all of Hollywood isn't in a bubble except Mark Wahlberg.
However, regardless of whether a particular celebrity is living in a bubble, Wahlberg shouldn't encourage any American citizen - especially artists - to shut up about politics. On the contrary, I'd go as far as saying if an artist has a public platform and can bring attention to a critical and important issue of national security, they should speak out loud and proud.
There's a reason that dictators are threatened by artists (examples from Franco to McCarthyism are abound in history) and target them immediately upon coming into power. It's because artists have the amazing ability to help people see things from other people's perspectives and can shed light on the truth, which can cause a unified uprising against the dictator. [This is one of the reasons so many progressives are upset about Trump's actions towards the press and artists that speak out against him.]
Besides, these artists built these public platforms through their diligent and hard work climbing to the top of one of the most competitive and successful industries in the United States, who the hell are you to say they can't say what they want?
After all, if the President of the United States doesn't need any governing experience before taking office, why must an actor have government experience to have an opinion about our leaders? If our President doesn't have to be poor to help the poor, why does an actor? Well, they don't. It's absolutely illogical.
If anything, democracy is built upon it's citizens being active and vocal regarding the governing process. And nowhere within our Constitution does it say that artists aren't entitled to speak out about politics because they happen to be so good at it, they made a ton of money.
Now, with this all being said, it's pretty clear that I was just kidding about Mark Wahlberg needing to shut up. Although I don't agree with his statements or his reasoning behind them, he has the right to voice his opinion and concerns about Hollywood's involvement in politics or the lack thereof. Because America is supposed to be a democracy founded on the free exchange of ideas so we can come up with the solutions needed to solve the world's toughest challenges - even if that idea comes from Wahlberg.