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Hollywood Heroics - September 8, 2003

By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
contributor to

Whether you're living inside or outside the Hollywood beltway, there are two things about Arnold Schwarzenegger's foray into the wonderful world of politics that are especially interesting.

First, never before has someone run for statewide office at such a successful point in his or her entertainment career. Arnold has just had a blockbuster of a summer flick with "Terminator 3."

Second, Arnold joins a long list of Tinseltowners-turned-politicians. Oddly enough, almost all of the civic-minded celebs have been of the Republican pinstripe. Ronald Reagan, Fred Thompson, Sonny Bono, Fred Grandy and George Murphy are some of the Big R cases in point.

What's intriguing about the pattern is the fact that Hollywood is dominated by political liberals who tend to sign on the Democrat line. In addition to the Bush-bashing rhetoric we hear from the likes of Johnny Depp, Tim Robbins, Martin Sheen et al., over 80 percent of the entertainment dough from the last presidential election went to the Dems. And the entertainment industry was the sixth-biggest source of cash for polticos seeking campaign funding.

Academy award winners are generally given the highest respect within the industry. But a look at where this group's campaign contributions went last cycle illustrates that when it comes to the politics of the A-listers, Hollywood is essentially a one-party system.

In fact, Oscar-winning actors, directors, etc., gave a measly $9,000 to Republicans. On the other hand, Democrats got a whopping $381,000 out of the elite bunch.

This got me thinking. If Hollywood is populated with so many liberals who are active enough to provide hefty monetary support, why don't they actually run for office?

I believe it has to do with something we all want but can't always muster. It's called guts. And conservatives in Hollywood seem to have a bit more experience in the guts-building area.

The way I see it, conservatives in Tinseltown have to be strong enough and willing enough to buck the tide, because liberalism is the prevailing force. It's hyped at business meetings, toasted at cocktail parties and sold at commissaries. To openly express ideas that run counter to the unofficial Hollywood manifesto can put a career at risk and throw a social life into the can.

Guts-building could have to do with playing an action hero, too. It may be that taking on a theatrical role can actually translate into real life valor, because in addition to Arnold, action figures like Mel Gibson, Bruce Willis, Jean Claude Van Damme, Clint Eastwood and Kurt Russell have also had the fearlessness to express conservative sympathies.

Whatever the case, if Hollywood liberals are thinking about taking the plunge into the world of political candidacy, perhaps they ought to try out some new film roles as preparation.

Ed Asner and Sean Penn could audition for the next Batman and Robin roles. Woody Allen could go for the Spider-Man spot. Rob Reiner would make a pretty good Hulk. And who knows, if they remade Wonder Woman, it might be enough to get Babs out of retirement.

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Copyright © 2003
James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.

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