October 8, 2020

CHRISTIAN TOTO: Hyper-political Hollywood gives us little reason to return to theaters.

Ellen DeGeneres whined about being stuck in her mega mansion, the first of several news cycles that damaged her populist appeal.

Later, when ordinary Americans fought back against the lockdowns decimating their livelihoods, stars mocked them as hicks who didn’t understand science and wanted to kill grandma while their paychecks kept a-coming.

Not a nice look. It got worse from there.

The usual celebrity angst against President Trump ramped up, if one can believe that was possible. The ugly comments got uglier, with some directly targeting Trump voters.

You know, the folks who also like to unwind at the local cineplex.

Some stars took their activism in a ghastly direction, donating to the Minnesota Freedom Fund which bails out jailed protesters. Celebrities like Seth Rogen, Steve Carell and Janelle Monae didn’t care if their money sprang unfairly arrested protesters (unlikely) or folks who eagerly set the city on fire (or committed even worse crimes).

This reporter proved their lack of concern.

Other stars directly poured digital gasoline on the fires, including Trevor Noah, Ice Cube, John Cusack and Michael Moore.

More recently, stars reassembled their classic TV show casts, something that could have proved a fun diversion in our locked down world.

Instead, they turned these reunions into Democratic fundraising efforts.

Twitter isn’t real life, but chances are the cacophony of vile, divisive messages coming from Celebrity Nation seeped into the national consciousness.

It’s one thing to swallow hard and watch a new Samuel L. Jackson film at home. It’s another to snag a sitter and/or fork over $30-plus for a Jackson movie knowing he just insulted anyone voting Trump on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”

Think that sentiment isn’t a factor in the anemic box office receipts we’re seeing these days?

Stars got hyper-political, and nasty, at the worst possible time. The theatrical model is on life support thanks to COVID, and media outlets which have scared us silly by downplaying hopeful news and exaggerating terrifying tidbits.

Will anyone be itching to pay $15 for an overhyped sequel coming Spring time, knowing they can watch it on their big-screen TV in a few weeks?

It’s been fascinating since the early days of our current unpleasantness, seeing the moral equivalent of war comparisons that used to be reserved for fighting global warming being transferred over to fighting the pandemic. (The latest bit of silliness: Boeing’s bête noire, Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee tweeted “What aircraft carriers were in World War II, masks are today” on Tuesday.) If you’re going to play that card, I expect to see Hollywood doing their part as well, the modern-day equivalent of when Hollywood Republicans like Bing Crosby committed themselves to supporting FDR’s war effort:

As Michael Jordan reportedly said, “Republicans buy sneakers, too.” They buy movie tickets as well – until after being hectored to death by Hollywood, they don’t.

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