I watched Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter gang up on Arianna and try to mug her the other night. She foiled them, but that's not my point. Once again I was struck by the way conservatives love to echo their repetitive mantra about how out of touch "Hollywood" and "Hollywood liberals" are with the real world.
I'm a relatively recent Southern California transplant, but I like it here. I've met a lot of terrific people, so I've got a question. You people repeat names like "Alec Baldwin" and "George Clooney" with such vituperation that I have to ask: Why y'all gotta hate a playa so?
A "playa hata" is somebody who's jealous of another's success. Could the FOX Network be turning into Playa Hata Central? Whatever their motivation, I think the conservative reaction to these Hollywood celebrities is only feigned outrage -- since "feigned outrage" is their routine fallback position these days.
I mean seriously, folks: Imagine if George Clooney called Sean Hannity and said "Sean, I've had it with these liberals who are ruining our country. I want to get on your show and tell America what a good job President Bush is doing."
Do you really think Hannity would say, "I'm sorry, George, but I believe that Hollywood doesn't understand real Americans"? He'd be ecstatic, and so would his spinmeisters in Washington. And if Republicans hate show business people so much, why do they keep running them for public office?
Let's do the disclaimer right here: I'm not in show business. I had a pretty low-level job working for Francis Coppola up north for a few months in the '80s, and I was a full-time musician once -- but that was long ago. So when I defend "Hollywood" types, I'm not talking about myself.
I've been in the business world for quite a few years, and I'll say one thing for the business world: You learn to recognize BS when you see it. And this "anti-Hollywood" schtick is BS. These Hannity and Coulter types love Hollywood. These conservatives are infatuated with show business. They're so desperate to get some showbiz cachet for their team that they kept showing off Ron Silver -- Ron Silver! -- as their celebrity spokesperson during the '04 election.
So tell me: What makes Ron Silver a more legitimate political figure than George Clooney, who's an award-winning director? Is it all those made-for-TV movies, or the time he played the bad guy opposite Jean-Claude Van Damme?
The Republicans certainly didn't object to "Hollywood celebrities" when they ran Ronald Reagan for Governor and George Murphy for Senator. Or when they ran Reagan for President. Or even recently, when they pretended Reagan was the most popular President in recent history (despite poll numbers that were consistently below Clinton's).
Then there was football player Jack Kemp. Oh, and I almost forgot -- Shirley Temple ran for Congress as a Republican, too.
Sean, let's pull some transcripts and see what you had to say when Arnold Schwarzenegger ran for Governor. Did you say, "These people don't understand America"? I guess it's not just any actor that can understand America, folks. It takes one born in Austria.
The conservatives' real problem with Hollywood is that very few people there agree with them. That's just the way it goes. But if Hollywood types are so "out of touch" with the people, why are they so darned popular with them? (And don't give me this nonsense about how conservative actors can't get work in Hollywood. You really think Bo Derek would be in the new Merchant and Ivory film if it just weren't for her politics?)
Hey, I realize that Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Ann Coulter are very successful too. Like Hollywood celebrities, they're basically entertainers. They're certainly not working at a day job with "ordinary Americans." They're on TV, or giving speeches for big money, or being wined and dined with their celebrity pals: the Republican leadership that gives them their talking points.
FOX News being as "fair and balanced" as it is, they left it to "house liberal" Alan Colmes to play along with Sean and Ann during Arianna's appearance. It's their usual trick: blow one thing out of proportion (in this case, "celebrity" Alec Baldwin's comparison of Cheney to a terrorist) in an attempt to drown out and caricature an entire point of view.
Funny -- if Colmes is the "liberal" and he was so outraged about the word "terrorist," why didn't he ask Ann Coulter about her statement that she wished terrorist Tim McVeigh had blown up the New York Times? Or mention that his fellow FOX star Bill O'Reilly invited Al Qaeda to attack San Francisco? Baldwin may have called Cheney a terrorist but, unlike Ann and Bill, he didn't actually advocate a terrorist act. (I wrote about it here, in a piece entitled Radical Muslims & American Conservatives: Peas in a Pod.) Where's the outrage, Alan?
Colmes proved once again that he shares at least one thing in common with many Hollywood stars: he got his job because of his looks. I don't mean to be unkind, but it's a conclusion that's hard to avoid. FOX has a script it wants the country to follow about liberals: they're ugly, bookish, and joyless. That's the real threat posed by the George Clooneys and Alec Baldwins. They say to the world, Kennedy-style, that liberalism is fun! Liberals enjoy life! We can't have that in Roger Ailes' world, so they have to push that stale "Hollywood/out of touch" meme.
Well, sorry guys. It's just not going to play in Peoria. Peoria likes Hollywood. The E! channel proves it: they want more, not less, of what Hollywood celebrities have to offer.
Now I know some of you will say that I'm just saying all this because they attacked Arianna. These thoughts have been simmering with me for a long time, so that's not all of it -- but part of it? Maybe. After all, I don't like to see anybody attacked unfairly, especially someone I like and respect. And when we see somebody mistreated -- well, then as liberals and Americans, we feel it's our duty to step in and defend them.
I guess that's just the way we do things here in Hollywood.