Traditionally, Hollywood has seemed like the last place the conservative movement would go to if it were looking to pick up an endorsement. After all, the entertainment industry has long been hostile toward conservatives, routinely vilifying them in their movies, mocking them in their television shows, and denouncing them at their award ceremonies.
The political divide in the industry is so lopsided, in fact, that entertainment workers actually give six times as much money to Democratic candidates as they do Republican candidates. This would come as no surprise, of course, to all of the right-leaning actors and actresses who have been extremely careful over the years not to air their political opinions in public, fearing that doing so would lose them not only jobs, but possibly even their careers.
There just isn’t a lot of tolerance for conservatism (or even moderate views) in an industry that hails liberal elites like George Clooney, Ben Affleck, and Tina Fey as their distinguished mouthpieces. I’d call the situation hopeless, but I have noticed a small, unexpected change in the entertainment world over the past two years that I’ve actually found somewhat encouraging.
It seemed to start with a renewed interest in patriotism and pride in our military which I attribute to movies like Lone Survivor and American Sniper. These films were unique in that they portrayed the brave individuals who fought for us in Afghanistan and Iraq as heroes and patriots, rather than as international bullies or hapless victims of George W. Bush’s foreign policy (which was the go-to formula in Hollywood for several years). These were rebellious movies that flew in the face of tightly-held liberal sensibilities. They shook not only the industry, but also the actors who starred in them.
It’s clear to anyone who watched Mark Wahlberg and Bradley Cooper in promotional interviews for their respective films that they came away from them as changed men. After immersing themselves in the lives of our soldiers, learning their stories, going through their training, and meeting their families, they developed a much different view than that of actor Matt Damon, who once claimed that people join the military because they can’t find any better work. Wahlberg and Cooper grew to understand the nobility and bravery of these people, and have become not only supporters but also staunch, outspoken advocates for them.
As a matter of fact, actor Tom Cruise got a taste of the respect Wahlberg has for our military, after he made a remark that being away from his family while filming movies was like serving in Afghanistan.
On another front, actor Matthew McConaughey surprised many at the Oscars last year by using his acceptance speech (for the Best Actor award) to lavish praise upon the person he believed was most responsible for his success: God.
“First off I want to thank God, because that’s who I look up to,” McConaughey said in front of an audience that largely views religion (specifically Christianity) with disdain. “He’s graced my life with opportunities that I know are not of my hand or any other human hand. He has shown me that it’s a scientific fact that gratitude reciprocates. In the words of the late (British actor) Charlie Laughton, who said, ‘When you got God you got a friend and that friend is you.'”
McConaughey was by no means the first person to thank God in front of a bunch of Hollywood liberals, but I can’t remember an entertainer of his notoriety ever being so upfront and emphatic about it. It was remarkable and quite refreshing. While there’s certainly nothing anti-liberal about Christianity (lots of liberals are Christians), wearing your faith on your sleeve is very much looked down upon in liberal circles—especially among the Hollywood elite. Thus, McConaughey most certainly ruffled some feathers with that speech, and I’m glad he did it.
Months later, McConaughey went sharply against the grain of his profession again in a commencement speech he delivered to the Spring 2015 graduating class of Houston University.
“Congratulations class of 2015,” the speech began. “Life’s not fair. It never was, isn’t now and won’t ever be. Do not fall into the entitled trap of feeling like you’re a victim. You are not.”
The speech hailed the importance of individual responsibility and work ethic a number of times, and attacked the entitlement mentality that is the modern day lifeblood of the liberal movement.
Actor Vince Vaughn, who has been a low-key libertarian for some time, recently placed his own political indiscretions aside and engaged in a full-throated defense of the 2nd Amendment during an interview with British GQ magazine.
In it, Vaughn said that he believed people should have guns in public, not just in their homes. When asked if guns should be allowed in schools, Vaughn replied: “Of course. You think the politicians that run my country and your country don’t have guns in the schools their kids go to? They do. And we should be allowed the same rights.”
“Banning guns is like banning forks in an attempt to stop making people fat,” Vaughn added. “Taking away guns, taking away drugs, [taking away] the booze, it won’t rid the world of criminality.”
It was a pretty brave stance considering how fiercely anti-gun Hollywood is (when they’re not glorifying gun violence on the big screen, that is).
Liberalism was called to court once again, just the other day, by a less likely source: Jerry Seinfeld.
In a radio interview with ESPN, the comedian told this story of a recent family conversation: “My wife says to my daughter (who is 14), ‘In the next couple of years, I think you’ll want to be hanging around the city more on weekends, so you can see boys.’ You know what my daughter says? ‘That’s sexist.’”
On a side note, I’m pretty sure this alone qualifies her to be a chairperson for the Democratic National Committee. But back to the column…
“They [today’s young people] just want to use these words,” Seinfeld complained. “’That’s racist.’ ‘That’s sexist.’ ‘That’s prejudiced.’ They don’t even know what they’re talking about.”
Seinfeld attributes the problem to crippling political correctness, fostered at American colleges (something conservatives have been pointing out for decades), and claims that it’s a bad thing for comedy. I’ve got news for Mr. Seinfeld: It’s also a bad thing for society.
I assume the former television star is smart enough to understand that it’s the sensibilities of the liberal elites he calls his friends that are killing his profession. Perhaps the interview was his way of airing his frustrations with them. I hope that’s the case, anyway. If not, he at least deserves some credit for identifying the problem in a very public way.
And then there was Bruce (now Caitlyn) Jenner who, in an interview a few weeks ago, shocked Diane Sawyer not so much with the history of his sexual identity issues, but with the fact that he was a Republican. The revelation came as Sawyer was trying to get the reality-television star to praise President Obama for his recognition of the transgender community. Jenner threw her a curve-ball by stating that he wasn’t a fan of the president’s and that he was a Republican because he believed in the Constitution.
When asked if he was worried that conservatives in the Republican Party wouldn’t accept his transition into a woman, he answered that neither political party had a monopoly on “understanding.”
Personally, I loved the exchange because it pointed out something extremely important—something that many liberals wish weren’t true: Minorities in this country aren’t defined by what makes them different than the majority. Being non-white, or gay, or transgender (or whatever) doesn’t preclude someone from believing in things like personal responsibility, fiscal discipline, small government, and a strong military. It’s okay to reject people who claim you’re a victim that needs help. It’s admirable in fact.
What Jenner did was decimate the popular narrative that the Democratic Party is the party of the oppressed, and it’s been fun listening to liberals try and explain why Jenner was wrong.
While I don’t consider any of the people in the above examples to be warriors for the conservative movement (most of them probably aren’t even conservatives), I do think it takes some guts to poke at the progressive bubble their peers live almost uniformly inside of. For that, they deserve credit.
Diversity of thought is a good thing in any institution, and if these outliers can use the influence their notoriety brings them to draw a little bit of sanity back into mainstream American culture, that’s a good thing.
We could all use a little sanity right now, even if it’s coming from Hollywood.