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Hollywood Protest By: Paul Bond
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, March 25, 2003


Michael Moore was booed off the stage Sunday night while delivering his acceptance speech after winning an Oscar for his documentary film "Bowling For Columbine."

For those who missed Moore's tirade, it went something like this: "We live in fictitious times, and we have fictitious election results that elect a fictitious president that sends us to war for fictitious reasons."

Then Moore got a bit redundant.

"We are against this war, Mr. Bush! Shame on you, Mr. Bush! Shame on you, Mr. Bush! Shame on you, Mr. Bush! Shame on you!"

More surprising than Moore injecting his venomous brand of politics into the Oscar show was the negative reaction his behavior prompted from much of the audience. Perhaps Hollywood's elite have grown weary of knee-jerk applause any time one of their own spouts antiwar slogans. Or maybe they are finally aware that much of their audience looks at today's peace movement as a partisan sham.

Just outside the Kodak Theatre, in fact, as the Oscar show began, many of the 3,000 protesters were shouting invectives through a bullhorn at police officers while others held American flags that replaced the stars with Nazi swastikas. "Bush is Hitler" and "Bush is the Terrorist" were popular refrains, as was "All U.S. Soldiers Are Now War Criminals."
 
No doubt, then, antiwar celebrities might suddenly be mindful of who they are associating with. Even if for no other reason than it's a good business decision. A just-released study suggests that celebrity antiwar activists, in deed, do appear un-American or unpatriotic to about 43.5 percent of adult Americans.

And that's just one of a host of interesting findings from the study, which consists of a scientific poll from the firm e-Poll.

The 43.5% revelation should be of keen interest to Hollywood filmmakers and the marketers whose job it is to put as many butts in theater seats as possible. Especially since, according the report, an impressive 47.9 percent of Americans said they would be dissuaded from paying to see a movie that featured a celebrity activist whom they disagree with. Republicans (64.2 percent) were more likely to shun such a film than Democrats (41 percent).

Not surprisingly, Republicans, by a wide margin, were also quicker to dismiss as un-American the celebrity peace movement than Democrats were, 71 percent compared with 26 percent.

The poll also asked Americans which celebrity activists they admire and which ones they do not.

More than three decades after Jane Fonda climbed aboard a North Vietnamese tank and made nice with the enemy, her political activism apparently still bothers moviegoers. She finished first on the list of least admired celebrities, being named by 12.4 percent of the respondents.

Serial-protester Martin Sheen was next, followed by Barbra Streisand, Charlton Heston and Sean Penn. The survey was taken right around the time Dixie Chicks lead singer Natalie Maines made some career-jarring remarks in London. Caught up in a wave of European anti-Americanism, the Texan told an enthusiastic audience, "Just so you know, we're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas." Fittingly, then, the Dixie Chicks were sixth on e-Poll's list, which lumped all celebrities together, be they actors or musicians.

Topping the list of admired celebrity activists was Heston, followed by Sheen, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Susan Sarandon.

Even though the best-known celebrity antiwar activists obviously have their supporters, it's interesting to note that in every case they have more detractors. Sheen is admired by 8.6 percent of moviegoers, while he is not admired by 11.1 percent

With Sarandon it's 4.9 percent for her and 5.3 percent against her. For Penn, whose antiwar activism, as in the case of Ms Fonda, prompted him to visit the enemy, in this case Baghdad, the numbers were 1.5 percent positive and 9 percent negative. For the Dixie Chicks it was 1.4 percent positive and 7 percent negative. Janeane Garofalo was at 1.1 percent for and 2.4 percent against while Mike Farrell was at 0.9 percent for and 1.8 percent against. And so on and so forth.

Even Democrats don't like Hollywood's most vehement antiwar demonstrators. Sheen is the third most disliked celebrity activist among Democrats and Penn is sixth.  

If this unique study sounds familiar, that's because e-Poll released one similar to this 10 months ago. That one has been cited many times on such cable news shows as "The O'Reilly Factor" and such nationally syndicated talk radio programs as "The Larry Elder Show" and "The Hugh Hewitt Show."

Since that first study, Alec Baldwin and Rosie O'Donnell have dropped off the top five list of least admired celebrity activists, replaced by Penn and Sheen, who have been waging much noisier peace campaigns.

And it appears American moviegoers are getting a bit less tolerant of celebrity activism. Ten months ago 44 percent said they wouldn't like to pay to see a movie featuring an activist they disagree with, compared with nearly 48 percent in the survey conducted last week.



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