Where Are The Hollywood Conservative?
September 12, 2000 8:12 AM   Subscribe

Where Are The Hollywood Conservative? Does a liberal cabal of Hollywood executives destroy the careers of conservative performers? Or, is the conservative philosophy (opposed to change, antiquated morals...) just too boring for artists and performers?
posted by Doug (23 comments total)
I think also that people who become actors are the sort of people who tend to be liberal. They're thinking about communicating with others, with reaching out, yes, with foisting their emotions and ideals on their audience.

What about educators? Is it that most people who are smart enough to be college professors are smart enough to be Democrats (most--not all--but a vast majority)? Or is it that the impulses that drive one to teach are the same impulses that drive one to be liberal?

(by the way, I'm a very liberal ex-college professor)
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:26 AM on September 12, 2000

Does this mean I can blame the quality of American movies on the left?
Al Gore: "I invented Dusk to Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money"
posted by thirteen at 8:44 AM on September 12, 2000

I think popular culture has associated a negative stigma to being conservative. Those entertainers who are conservative are probably advised by their agents of whoever they have thinking for them that they should keep their views to themselves. Now, if only all entertainers would follow that example. Is it not the most irritating thing to see some beyond rich actor jabbering about politics when they no longer have any idea what it's like to really work hard for a living?
posted by Nyarlathotep at 8:49 AM on September 12, 2000

Well, I mean, really, it's not like Gore or Bush aren't beyond rich and have any idea what it's like to work for a living, either. Even Ralph Nader, who I support, is worth millions. Kind of tells you something about the state of politics,

posted by Doug at 8:54 AM on September 12, 2000

Is it that most people who are smart enough to be college professors are smart enough to be


Christ. Y'know, us international types are flooded enough with american politics these days (American site, we know that it's important to you guys, and understand) but is it really necessary to start a flame war by associating political preference to intelligence?

C'mon. I mean, at least respect your supposed opponents enough to accept that intelligent people can have differing philosophies about government yet still remain intelligent. I'd had to see someone point out the old "If you can't do, teach" axiom in response to that blatant baiting.
posted by cCranium at 8:56 AM on September 12, 2000

Ummm...I thought I was pretty clear about it not being a baiting, semi-rhetorical question. That's why I came up with the second part, "Or is it that the impulses that drive one to teach are the same impulses that drive one to be liberal?" I was trying to give a true, second option there. I think it really is that we busy-body, know-it-all types are drawn to both higher education and liberal politics.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:08 AM on September 12, 2000

Gosh. Let's turn everything into politics, why don't we? Up next: is my broom a crypto-fascist sympathizer?
posted by aramaic at 9:14 AM on September 12, 2000

cCranium, politics are different here in the States. Two party only system (despite attempts to enlarge and represent more), lots of name calling (just wait: as the presidential race and election day get closer, the campaign will get much dirtier) and lots of intolerance for views not of the mainstream middle of the road (for which we Americans pride ourselves).

Oh, and I'm a former prof who is fairly liberal too.

BTW, MrMoonPie, I think there are lots of college professors who are conservative.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 9:46 AM on September 12, 2000

I think Hollywood is just going with the tide. During the 80's they had one of their own at the main office, and the word "liberal" was as bad then as "conservative" is now in the perception of the general public. A contrast almost as stark as it used to be in other countries comparing "socialist" vs. "capitalist".

I agree that academic types tend to be more on the liberal side, just as much as business types tend to be on the conservative side. So no, I do not believe for a minute it has anything to do with smarts. It has everything to do with interests. Programs, Funds, Entitlements, Donations... these are all words that academia has to use on a day to day basis, and they have more receptive ears on the "left" side of government. On the other hand, businesses vocabulary would be: Deals, sales, trade, mergers, etc. and the "right" is more friendly to them.

As a very general or broad characterization, I would think that indeed artists, academics, workers, women and younger people tend to the liberal side. And contrary to these, bussines types, entrepeneurs, men and more mature people lean to the conservative side. No?
posted by tremendo at 10:19 AM on September 12, 2000

How does that French saying go? Something like: "If you are young and conservative, you have no heart. If you are old and liberal, you have no brain."

I, of course, have no brain.
posted by frykitty at 11:06 AM on September 12, 2000

here's a little anecdote: a girl once described her east-coast boyfriend as an intellectual and then she noted that he was conservative. it suddenly struck me that on the west coast, intellectual = liberal, but that on the east coast intellectual = whatever.

that's a generalization, but I think it holds pretty true. maybe it's just a west coast thing--the cultural climate is such that a thinking person is surrounded by generally liberal thought and naturally tend in that direction.

plus, with the entertainment industry full of risk-takers, it might make sense that they would reject a system of thought that revered the status quo.

on the other hand, let us not forget that ronald reagan was an actor.

posted by rebeccablood at 11:09 AM on September 12, 2000

Canadian and American politics aren't all that different, and us Canadians are reasonably well-informed about your political system. Our politics are too intertwined with yours for it not to be important to us.

Well, to those of us who follow politics, even just a little.

MrMoonPie, I apologize for not properly expressing the levity intended by my previous post.

I thought I was pretty clear about it not being a baiting, semi-rhetorical question.

I know you meant to bring it up as a serious conversational topic, that's what I found so amusing. You associated intelligence with political disposition, which is so utterly silly a proposition the only thing I could do was laugh.

Your point, as I understood it, is that college professors are as a job requirement, more intelligent than the average bear, and therefore lean leftward, politically speaking.

There are very intelligent liberals, there are very intelligent conservatives, and there are very intelligent communists.

I do agree that whatever it is that makes people want to help expand minds is associated with liberal thinking. I disagree that there's a cause-and-effect relationship, and I disagree that intelligence, by its very nature, leads to educating others.

Not all teachers want to help open your mind, only the good ones. Many teachers, probably too many teachers, are happy to drill acceptance, rather than the questioning, of authority.
posted by cCranium at 11:13 AM on September 12, 2000

That makes a lot of sense, Rebecca.

On the west coast you have most of the original 13 colonies, which were established to practice religous freedom by them hardcore puritans and christian types. The people who went west were people who didn't like the european restrictions, nor did they like the puritan ones.

I agree, and would suggest it's much more of a geological thing than it is an intelligence thing.

Thank you.

Oh, as a note, I'm from Ontario, which is very similar to the north eastern states in terms of political leanings - very much a mixed blend - so that may be why MrMoonPie's thoughts struck me as being from left field.

Umm... no pun intended. :-)
posted by cCranium at 11:33 AM on September 12, 2000

While not a Gore fan, I'd have to say that 40 GWB's couldn't beat one Al Gore (not that Al Gore is Liberal) in scrabble. Maybe people think conservatives aren't too bright because they nominated a mentally disabled man for president? I mean, think about it, GWB is the man the majority of republicans in this country thought could best represent them. Scary thought. I'd leave the party, personally.
posted by Doug at 12:10 PM on September 12, 2000

on the other hand, let us not forget that ronald reagan was an actor.

...and every bit as good a politician as he was an actor, I might add!
posted by dcehr at 12:16 PM on September 12, 2000

I don't think you can draw any correlation between a political stance and intelligence. A lot of smart people voted for Bill Clinton ;-)

Seriously, Hollywood likes the democratic party because in the past the democrats fund and protect the arts (their livelihood) Conservatives have been known as an enemy to the arts because they have opposed using taxpayer money to fund work that was deemed offensive (whole other issue, don't go there.)

Ultimately, people like to polarize politics into neat camps of good or bad but the truth is there are good and bad ideas, people, and practices on both sides of the ball.

We get to sort it all out and vote for the least of all evils in some cases. Remember the movie Brewster's Millions? We need Richard Pryor to run under the "None of the Above" ticket!
posted by ooklah at 12:47 PM on September 12, 2000

it's possible too that people perceive the descriptions "liberal" and "conservative" differently based on geography...

i live in texas, went to high school and college in small towns and the people i've run across that vote republican, that i consider "conservative" are the hard core christians that are militantly against a woman's right to choose, who honestly believe a woman's place is in the home, are zealotous about their guns and using them anyway they see fit and vote on social issues *not* fiscal...

they are so rigid and dogmatic that yes, i perceive them as less intelligent or intellectual for the simple reason that they are *so* extremely inflexible and defend their positions with emotion instead of reason...

i respect and admire someone who has a good thought out reason for believing in what they do when it differs from my opinion...a lot of the "conservatives" here though seem almost cult-like or programmed in their beliefs and it leaves a bad taste in my mouth...
posted by centrs at 12:48 PM on September 12, 2000

It would seem that Hollywood is more Democrat than the more general "liberal." Partisanship disturbs me- what would politics be like if there were no political parties? Probably a lot better, at least it would allow more freedom to the politicians to express their values.
posted by kidsplateusa at 3:59 PM on September 12, 2000

Hollywood may be liberal, but plenty of Hollywood movies are conservative/reactionary. Take any typical action film where a cop, former military guy, demolitions expert, etc. etc. gets fed up and takes the law into his own hands a la _Death Wish_ or _Dirty Harry_. The common action film point of view-- that anyone the "hero" catches doing something criminal or associating with criminals can and should be punished, on the spot, without a trial-- that's vigilantism (sp?), and reactionary.

As for other political influences in movies, consider jingoist flicks like Air Force One and Independence Day, or going further back, Top Gun. I don't know that I would characterize these films as conservative exactly, but they do celebrate the status quo, as conservatism characteristically does.

I'd say most films definitely aren't liberal in the sense of questioning US values, priorities and policies, though arguably some are in minor ways liberal in the sense of pushing for more permissive social mores.

But I think most films and TV shows and such are politically (and in most other ways) void and irrelevant.
posted by wiremommy at 4:42 PM on September 12, 2000

i have to disagree that intelligence=liberal, i tend to have to counter often strictly emotional arguments when speaking to liberals. also, on the al gore scrabble watch, gore received 5 F's out of 8 courses at Vaderbilt divintiy school and then dropped out of law school subsequently, w is no wiz but i put them in a dead heat. I spent sunday listening to Nader and i wonder how any intelligent person could support this bully/dictator. I am a graduate student libertarian studying physics and I find in my particulary field which is far removed from the social science wing the trends are more in the conservative/libertarian direction. As for the lack of conservative actors I would put it down to few of them having the intellectual stamina to actually defend any of their opinions so it is far easier to just parrot the party line.
posted by keyth at 5:47 PM on September 12, 2000

Well, you could argue that Hollywood is "conservative" with a small C, given that it comes up with lightweight, unchallenging drek time after time, especially with its Disneyfication of history in the name of political correctness.

But the distinction's a silly one. You can have art which transcends its origins (say, Virgil or Bach) while remaining tied to the pre-eminent institutions of the period. Culture can be productively conservative, so long as it's not reactionary.
posted by holgate at 5:50 PM on September 12, 2000

the word "liberal" was as bad then as "conservative" is now in the perception of the general public.

...except in a recent Rasmussen poll 48% of the general public classified themselves as "conservative" or "right" vs. only 31% for "liberal" or "left." So it's not really out of style; it's just out of style with news/entertainment industries.
posted by mikewas at 9:19 PM on September 12, 2000

Hollywood may be liberal, but plenty of Hollywood movies are conservative/reactionary. Probably because the Hollywood you don't see (writers, producers) have among them many center/right types, whereas the high-profile Democrats are often Actors, who just act in those reactionary-type movies. The other factor is the Hollywood is a business, and they know what sells, even if they don't necessarily like the message behind it.
posted by chaz at 2:07 AM on September 13, 2000

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