Ed Driscoll

THE LOU GRANT EFFECT

Back in January, William Whittle made quite a splash in the Blogosphere with his essay on anti-war celebrities. (Here are my thoughts on it from back then.)

Whittle had a terrific paragraph about celebrities such as Woody Harrelson, whom Whittle described as embodying “one of the great ironies of the America-bashing glitteratiÂ…he is one of those actors who became beloved by playing someone who, for all intents and purposes, is his polar opposite.”

I call this the Lou Grant effect. The talented Ed Asner, the actor who played Lou Grant on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, is politically to the left of Mao. Put Ed Asner and Lou Grant in a steel cage, let them talk politics for five minutes, and Lou Grant would kick Ed Asner’s ass. Even Murray Slaughter would be handing up folding chairs: “Hit the bastard again Lou, he’s still talking about income redistribution!” Dana Scully is a brilliant, courageous, skeptical physician who is handy with an automatic; Gillian Anderson is deep into crystals and has trouble with her shoelaces. Jack Ryan crawls through the bowels of a stolen Russian submarine fighting a dirty shadow war to keep America free, and Alec Baldwin…doesn’t. He seems to find the whole idea of a Jack Ryan deeply embarrassing. This list, sadly, goes on too.

Whittle’s phrase, “The Lou Grant Effect”, is particularly apropos, because I used to love watching Asner as Lou–and could easily have pictured myself knocking back a few Scotches and discussing the good old days of journalism with the man.

Of course, that’s not possible: Lou is fictional, and the real Ed Asner is a very, very different fellow from the all-American character he played in the 1970s, as Andrew Sullivan demonstrates.

Sullivan’s post about Asner is titled, “Lefties and Tyrants”. Sadly, as we noted around the time of Whittle’s post, Asner isn’t the only Hollywood celebrity who worships them.

UPDATE: The author of the piece that Sullivan quoted has since retracted Asner’s quotes–apparently he transcribed them incorrectly, or worked from an inaccurate transcription.