The Silent Majority Strikes Back
By: Paul Bond
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, May 16, 2003
That many movie fans have vowed to do their best not to enrich the most vocal of the celebrity antiwar activists is a well-known fact in Hollywood. But I just recently learned of one who refuses even to let such celebrities enrich him.
William White is proprietor of a Mojave, California, establishment called White’s Motel, where Sean Penn was a recent guest, in town to do some dirt-bike riding with his son.
Penn is perhaps known less nowadays for filmmaking than for his trip to Baghdad to make nice with the enemy. Mr. White was wholly unimpressed with Penn's little excursion.
“I don’t want to rent to him,” White told William P. Warford, the fine Antelope Valley Press columnist who first reported the story.
But White did rent a room to Penn. Though White, whose son serves in the Air Force, chose not to profit from the transaction.
“I got to thinking about it later, and I decided I don’t want his money,” he told Warford. “I thought about sending him a refund, but then I decided to donate it to charity.”
White mailed a check to the Red Cross for $41.34, the amount Penn paid for a room.
“I think it started with Jane Fonda,” White said. “She went to Hanoi, and that was a turning point. You can protest, but you shouldn’t help the enemy.”
White, of course, isn’t alone in his newfound disrespect for Penn. Many have said they intend never to see a Sean Penn movie again.
It’s exactly that type of movie-goer anger toward Penn that is at the heart of dueling lawsuits, whereby Penn claims his antiwar activism cost him a $10 million role while producer Steven Bing says the deal was never sealed to begin with.
“Penn crossed over a bright line into unprotected speech when he publicly advocated the violent overthrow of the United States government,” Bing contends in court papers, referring to statements made by Penn that appeared in a British newspaper article.
Nevertheless, a judge just recently ruled that Penn’s suit can go forward.
Bing, of course, wants to cast someone in his movie, “Why Men Shouldn’t Marry,” that audiences will pay to see. Producers and directors use all sorts of criteria in making such determinations. One actor might get a part over another simply because he’s a few inches taller. When push comes to shove, it’s all about putting butts in theater seats. So it makes perfect sense if Bing decided not to cast Penn because he thought a significant portion of the public doesn’t want to pay to see Penn.
It’s an obvious point. And one that I made recently while a guest on CNN. I was rewarded with fairly obnoxious and profane hate mail that accused me of ushering in a new Hollywood blacklist era.
Penn, along with celebrity antiwar cohorts Mike Farrell, Martin Sheen, Tim Robbins and others, is afforded a sort of super-sized version of freedom of speech. His words are reported worldwide, over and over, giving even his most absurd rants a false air of importance.
Average Americans have fewer ways of getting their views across. Not buying movie tickets is one of them that Bing is keenly aware of.
Regardless of what happens with Penn’s lawsuit, it seems that Hollywood’s peace activists might be in for a bit more backlash. There are those who are making it their business to make sure that movie-goers don’t forget which celebrities did their best to undermine the war effort in Iraq.
Web sites like HollywoodHalfwits.com, Celiberal.com, HollywoodPeace.com and Boycott-Hollywood.net are still well-traveled. And the folks at Newsmax.com are offering “The Deck of Weasels.”
Like the Pentagon’s famous Most Wanted “Deck of Death” playing cards, each card in the Newsmax version features a different name and photo, along with the appropriate antiwar quote.
The suit of Hearts is dedicated to Hollywood celebrities: Martin Sheen is the Ace, Michael Moore the King, Barbra Streisand the Queen, etc. The Clubs suit is reserved primarily for journalists and writers, with CBS ace reporter Dan Rather as Ace and novelist Gore Vidal holding court as King.
Fittingly, the Jokers are Jimmy Carter and Jesse Jackson.
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