Conservatives need to lighten up - and get glitzier stars
New Rule: Conservatives have to stop complaining about Hollywood values.
It’s the Oscars this weekend, which means two things, one, I’ve got to get waxed, and two, talkradio hosts and conservative columnists will trot out their annual complaints about Hollywood: We’re too liberal, we’re out of touch with the heartland, the theater floors are always sticky, our facial muscles have been deadened with chicken botulism, there aren’t as many Goobers in a box as there used to be, and we make them feel fat. To these people, I say — shut up and eat your popcorn. And stop bitching about one of the few industries in America that still makes something people all over the world want to buy. Not to rub it in, but “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel” made $400 million. And that’s a squeakquel.
Last year, Hollywood set a box office record: $10.6 billion. Sixteen billion worldwide. Not bad for a bunch of socialists. You never see Hollywood begging Washington for a handout, like corn farmers, or the auto industry, or the entire state of Alaska. Except for Kevin Smith, we pull our own weight.
What makes it even more inappropriate for conservatives to slam Hollywood is that they more than anybody fall in love with any D-list celebrity who happens to lean to the right, to the point where they actually run them for office. You don’t find the equivalent of Sonny Bono on the left — or Fred Thompson, or George Murphy, or Congressman Gofer from”The Love Boat.” And let’s not forget, the modern conservative messiah is a guy who co-starred with a chimp. That’s right, Dick Cheney. But also Bonzo’s buddy, Ronald Reagan. Now, I like Arnold Schwarzenegger, but he is an Austrian ham who bragged about drugs and gang-bangs and could speak no English, but when he said he’d run, the family values, anti-immigrant party terminated in their pants.
Which brings us up to the right wing’s most recent teen crushes: a couple of cute kids named Sarah Palin and Scott Brown. Sarah is a former Miss Wasilla who served as the weekend sports anchor on station KTUU in Anchorage before eloping with her high school sweetheart and eventually answering a call to public office. Scott is a former Miss Cosmo Guy, and his turnoffs are people who don’t drive trucks and having to wear clothes. Scott’s a senator now, but — shout-out to the folks at”The Bachelor” — if you need a stud for Season 19, Scott’s totally there.
Politics has become the safety school for show business washouts who are just looking for a way to stay in front of the camera — the Republican Party is not far from nominating a guy who dropped a hundred pounds on”The Biggest Loser.”
Republicans say they hate celebrities who get involved with politics, but you would too if the best celebrities on your side were Chuck Norris and Bo Derek. I’m not saying no one cares about their stars, but if Stephen Baldwin killed himself and Craig T. Nelson with a car bomb, the headline the next day would be”Two Die in Car Bombing.”
The truth is that the vast majority of Hollywood talent are liberals, because most stars adhere to an ideology that jibes with their core principles of taking drugs and getting laid. The liberal stars that the right are always demonizing — Sean Penn and Michael Moore, Streisand and Alec Baldwin and Tim Robbins, and all the other members of my biweekly cocaine orgy — they’re just people with opinions. None of them hold elective office or are trying to, and liberals aren’t begging them to run. Because we live in the real world, where actors do acting, and politicians do… nothing. But conservatives are like children; they see an actor on TV and think he’s really that guy. Fred Thompson plays a stern judge with a folksy charm — that guy should be president!
A lot of Republican policy ideas are stripped straight from primetime. I wish I were kidding, but in one of the Republican debates in ’08, they spent the whole hour arguing about plotlines on”24,” asking,”What would Jack Bauer do?” and”If he were here right now, which one of us do you think he’d like to go torturing with the most?”
We progressives love our stars, but we know better than to elect them. We make the movies here, so we know a well-kept trade secret: Those people on that screen are only pretending to be geniuses, astronauts and cowboys. Besides, we can’t elect our liberal stars because they’re burdened with an affliction that your average conservative celebrities don’t suffer from — regular work. So don’t hate. And please, don’t ruin the Oscars. We’re just like you. And the Oscars are really just our prom: The tuxes are scratchy, the limos are rented, and we go home with 18-year-old girls.
Bill Maher is host of HBO’s”Real Time With Bill Maher.”