WINSTON CHURCHILL, many say, once said, "A man younger than 30 who's not a liberal has no heart and a man older than 30 who's not a conservative has no brain." But this fails to explain why so many Hollywood celebrities, even past their 30s, remain leftists.
Hollywood Reporter writer Paul Bond explored this question. Hollywood non-liberals do exist, but the number of out-of-the-closet non-libs remains small. After ticking off names like Charlton Heston, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, and a handful of others, the well pretty much runs dry. Why?
Bond offers the following explanation, "Jack Wheeler, president of the Freedom Research Foundation, a public policy think tank and lobby group, wrote in January that celebrities are attracted to the left out of 'liberal guilt' and a fear of being envied." Leftist Martin Sheen, who plays the president on "The West Wing," once said that he never met a happy rich person. (Does that include Mr. Sheen?) Some celebrities embrace feel-good liberal causes as a way of saying, "Don't hate me because I'm rich and famous."
For black celebrity leftists, however, add an additional reason -- fear of being perceived as "selling out."
Oscar-nominated actor Will Smith, for example, in an interview with Barbara Walters, suggested that scientists concocted AIDS as part of a conspiracy to retaliate against black people. A surprised Barbara Walters asked, "But you felt that the government was . . . deliberately trying to make people ill with the AIDS virus? This is pretty serious stuff. Do you really feel that?" Smith provided this "proof": "Well, good question. I firmly believe that it is quite highly possible that the AIDS virus is the result of genetic warfare testing."
"Quite highly possible"?
Chris Rock, in a current issue of GQ, echoed the I've-conquered-racism-and-continued-to-fight-it-day-by-day-so-don't-hate-me-because-I'm-black theme. In expressing gratitude that his soon-to-be-born child is a girl rather than a boy, Rock said, "I think I'd be too hard on a boy -- every day, trying to make him a man, getting him ready for white people."
An attempt at humor? No, my producer contacted the article's writer, who insisted that Rock was not joking. And, on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," Rock said it again. "I'm glad it's a girl," he told Oprah, "because I would have been too hard on a boy. I would have been smacking a boy upside the head every day. And, 'Boy, you -- you know how the white man's going to treat you? Come on, get up, it's 4:00 in the morning. Get to work.' 'I'm only 4, Dad.' 'Get to work.'"
On "Good Morning America," a surprised Diane Sawyer questioned Rock about his willingness to racially profile whites. "You said you're glad it's a girl," said Sawyer. "You say, 'I think I would be too hard on a boy, trying to make him a man, getting him ready for white people.'"
Rock feebly offered, "Well, yeah, get him ready. . . . C'mon, you can't just send the boy out there."
"What did you mean by that?" asked Sawyer.
"Well, yeah, you gotta get them ready ," said Rock. "It's a rough world out there. . . . Boys punch each other in the face, Diane. Boys smack the cr-p out of each other. Boys are mean. . . . Boys encounter racism. . . . It is mean. Even when I went to school, when I was in grade school in '72, '73, I got my a-- whooped every day, called 'n-gger,' whatever. The girls, nothin'. . . . The black girls in school were fine."
Sawyer asked, "You don't think anything has changed?"
Rock's reply: "Things have changed, but you've got to be prepared, you know. . . . I try to buy a house next to you or something, then I'm going to experience racism, straight up, you know."
Chris Rock cannot buy a home in his price range and of his choosing because of "straight-up racism"? News bulletin: "Straight-up" racist real estate agents prefer to leave on the table a six percent commission on a multimillion dollar house.
How long will consumers put up with celebrities who assault political views and who falsely accuse them of racism? Celebrities who insult audiences with their political views may indeed face a reckoning at the box office. According to The Hollywood Reporter, 44 percent of those polled said that they might refuse to pay to see films featuring an actor "who has publicly stated a position that conflicts with their own." Do moviegoers feel repelled by black celebrities touting the racism-is-everywhere theme? The poll did not ask this question. But many moviegoers may resent enriching black stars like Will Smith, Chris Rock and Spike Lee, who take fans' money while accusing them of bigotry.
Memo to studio execs in the bottom-line business of Hollywood: Some of these loudmouth, in-your-face, strident celebs turn off customers, and thus leave money on the table. Be warned.