On tonight’s second part of Spike Lee’s Katrina doc “If God Is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise,” Brad Pitt is so contemptuous of the executives responsible for the Gulf oil spill that he says, “I was never for the death penalty before. I am willing to look at it again.”
Naturally, this has triggered a whole lot of blow back from the right, particularly in the notion that the actor has been hypocritical or, worse, that he’s a celebrity weighing in on politics. Steven Crowder, a comedian and writer, posts on Fox News.com, “To clarify; Brad Pitt has never considered capital punishment for murderers, rapists, or even serial killing scum like Tookie Williams. Instead, he reserves such measures for evil executives who make slightly more money than he does. No word yet on whether Pitt would hold the Obama administration to the same standard, considering that they share an equal part in the blame.
He adds, “One would hope that Mr. Pitt was simply making a joke, but that’s likely not the case, for several reasons: a) He’s never been funny and b) He has a long and varied history of using his public platform to push his political agenda and sermonize to us lowly middle-American peasants.”
Actually, Pitt’s rhetorical provocation is entirely in keeping with a lot of recent statements from industry figures frustrated with the lack of action on the environment. (See recent comments from James Cameron). But there’s also a double standard when it comes to criticizing celebrities for speaking their views. It’s usually when critics hear something they don’t like, not for a Hollywood figure using their platform to pitch a point of view. Jon Voight, Pitt’s would be father-in-law, is no stranger to audacious, anti-Obama statements, yet gets little heat from conservative commentators when he speaks out on Fox News.