Pondering Hollywood’s Anti-Establishment Cred

In my latest column, I wrote about the awkwardness of the Writers Guild of America coming out in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street protesters, inasmuch as the guild’s most successful members are part of the top 1% of income earners who are getting so much attention.

Frank Bruni raises several similar points in his Sunday column in the New York Times, titled “Hollywood on Wall Street.” One passage makes the point so sharply it’s worth quoting at some length:

Entertainers are members of the well-connected economic elite against which Occupy Wall Street ostensibly rages, whether or not they want to see themselves that way. True, they’re not bundling mortgages, and they often have their extravagantly beating hearts in the right place. Many donate generously to charity. Many do remarkable good.

But they nonetheless make oodles of money for themselves and for major corporations with lavishly compensated executives: the corporations that bankroll and distribute their television shows, movies, record albums and concert tours; the corporations that peddle the clothing, electronics and ever-so-important cosmetics and styling products that entertainers are paid so handsomely to model and endorse.

Bruni further notes that Alec Baldwin — another well-known and outspoken champion of progressive causes — has been a pitchman for Capital One, one of those huge financial operations that are currently under siege.

As Bruni notes, being well-off doesn’t disqualify someone from espousing liberal views or advocating greater income equality. Legendary investor Warren Buffett, among others, is proof of that.

But it does make Hollywood figures ripe targets for conservative attack dogs, who love to cite their hypocrisy and “limousine liberal” status.

Is such talent’s support of something like Occupy Wall Street doing more harm than good? Given that the media tends to find things harder to ignore when celebrities become involved, probably not. But stars ought to recognize that their participation is a double-edged sword — handing political foes a club, metaphorically speaking, with which to further rough up the protesters.



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