Roger L. Simon

In My Backyard

Victor Davis Hanson is not quite as brilliant as he usually is in his analysis of celebrity leftism – “Elegant nonsense.” Professor Hanson blames in part the lack of education of the likes of Sean Penn and Cher for their knee-jerk “liberalish” pronouncements, though plenty of high school drop-outs have a pretty good instinctive grasp on national and international politics.

But where I really disagree with the professor is his contention that because Robert Redford plays Bob Woodward, the actor thinks he is a mega-journalist with great investigative powers. Au contraire, Dr. Hanson. Every movie star I have ever met or worked with deep down thinks to one degree or another that he or she is a fraud and that his or her life has been an accident – from having (often temporarily) a pretty face or from some mysterious charisma they themselves do not understand. The insecurity of the actor is one of those true clichés, and it reaches all the way to the top – to the highest star.

By making the pronouncements they do, they are trying to convince the audience of their own seriousness and their own goodness (their own value). But most of all they are trying to convince themselves. Fragile egos, not inflated ones, are at work here.

The psychodynamics can be more complex than that, and to dump all celebrity “leftists” in one pot is grossly unfair, but that is, I think, close to the essence. And this, of course, does not exonerate these people for their often peurile opinions. It only indicates why they are not thought through. Most Hollywood liberals of this sort will not engage in a substantive discussion of the issues because they have no real desire to. Thought, or even truth, is not the point. Stance is.

Hanson is on firmer ground when he talks of liberal guilt as one of the motivating factors. When you’re living on a twenty million dollar Brentwood estate, you naturally want to be well thought of, lest someone take it away. You might even go so far as to turn in your Mercedes for a Prius (though you keep an Aston Martin in your garage for special occasions).

But the professor again steers off course when he concludes: In this regard, we could learn again from the Greeks. They thought the playwrights Sophocles and Euripides were brilliant but not the mere mimics who performed their plays.

As a Hollywood screenwriter, I regret to inform Dr. Hanson that although not one of us is even remotely the equal of Sophocles and Euripides, virtually all of us (present company and a very few others excepted) have completely adopted the politics of our actors.
(via Paul Mirengoff)