LOS ANGELES — The conventional wisdom is that Hollywood has never before been so gaga over any candidate as she is now for Democratic Sen. Barack Obama. In addition to raking in Oprah-level campaign cash, Mr. Obama is making Sen. John McCain, despite the Republican’s comedic turns on “Saturday Night Live” and in “The Wedding Crashers,” look like an out-of-it grandfather.
While it is true that the ratio of Obama-to-McCain bumper stickers in West L.A. is about 250-to-1, there are untold closet Republicans in the entertainment industry who dare not advertise their beliefs in movie studio parking lots. (Unfortunately, car keying is a tactic wielded liberally by the self-described “tolerant.”)
But in this land of superficiality and augmented assets, the inconvenient truth is that, in Hollywood, absolute conformity to the Democratic Party is a well-constructed facade. The environment is not so much unfavorable to the Grand Old Party as it is utterly totalitarian. There’s simply no lifestyle choice that receives a worse response at dinner parties.
Convicted murderer? Has anyone optioned the rights to your story?
Avowed Marxist? Viva la revolucion!
Scientologist? Do you take Visa or Mastercard?
Syphilitic drug abuser? Let’s talk!
Conservative? You should go.
Only proclaiming one’s self a practicing Christian is met with greater disdain - making Christian Republicans the gold standard in Hollywood pariah status. Fortunately, their Savior - that dude from Mel Gibson’s highest-grossing blockbuster that was shunned by the major studios - wrote the script on how to live with an unpopular point of view.
Since the communist-sympathizing Jane Fonda aerobicized her way into the mainstream of Hollywood politics, and about the time that John Wayne died, most Republicans in Hollywood began to shut their mouths. Other Republicans attempt to win over the bullies by referring to themselves as “moderate,” “libertarian,” “independent,” “classical liberal,” “pragmatist” or “JFK Democrat.”
The tandem of social and vocational ostracism usually shuts down even the strongest voices. Yet recently during the “Iron Man” media blitz, a New York Times profile on Robert Downey Jr. featured the following quote buried in the 23rd paragraph: “I have a really interesting political point of view, and it’s not always something I say too loud at dinner tables here, but you can’t go from a $2,000-a-night suite at La Mirage to a penitentiary and really understand it and come out a liberal. You can’t. I wouldn’t wish that experience on anyone else, but it was very, very, very educational for me and has informed my proclivities and politics ever since.”
Yes we can!
Maybe the cryptic Mr. Downey now considers himself a French separatist? Or perhaps a Zapatista? The Hollywood dinner party test strongly hints that the talented actor has lurched rightward during his long road to recovery. Playwright David Mamet recently expressed a similar Road to Da Masses conversion. “I took the liberal view for many decades,” Mr. Mamet bravely wrote in a Village Voice op-ed, “but I believe I have changed my mind.”
Si se puede!