At a dinner party in Washington the other night, I was asked a question I’m often asked. No, not, “Can I buy a vowel?” but, rather, “Why is Hollywood so uniformly made up of liberal Democrats?”
There are a lot of theories on the subject, and I have a few of my own. First, I would strongly argue with the premise. My industry is certainly made up predominantly of liberal Democrats, but there is a surprising number found on the other side of the political spectrum. Lots of writers, producers, directors and performers are quite conservative in their views, but you don’t hear from them as much or as noisily as you do from the left. Part of it, sadly, is the fear that they’ll suffer professionally if they’re “outed”, and a number of them have stories to tell about being confronted on the issue.
But another factor is they’re far less comfortable lecturing their fellow citizens on how to live their lives. You’re much more likely to see a liberal singer interrupt his performance with a global warming diatribe than you are to see a conservative singer praising the free enterprise system between songs.
Another fact that might surprise you is that most of Hollywood—like most of America—isn’t really all that interested in politics except near election time.
Most of the men and women who make their living in the entertainment field are much more focused on finding jobs and reading scripts and getting awards and going to events than they are on the intricacies of American politics. If you ask them about their views, they’re likely to spout a few liberal talking points because they’ve heard them so often, and it’s the safer position to take.
And that point leads me to my primary theory on why one side dominates the other. Putting aside the true believers and usual suspects (you know who they are on both sides), the liberal position provides the path of least resistance, especially for high-profile members of the Hollywood community. It’s hard to describe the bubble in which these folks live, but I’ll try.
They are financially successful in ways most people can scarcely imagine; their whims are treated as commands; outrageous or boorish behavior is condoned; they travel in limos and fly (often privately) between their multiple homes; they hobnob with politicians who come to them for advice and input (and money); the glamour of their business rubs off on them and gives them access and a sense of importance and wisdom.
So how should one speak from such a lofty perch? Well, many have concluded that the smartest way to handle it is to claim to be “one of the people.” So, no matter how rarified the air, liberalism is a smart career move.
Is it hypocritical to ask people to drive electric cars while you’re flying in a Gulfstream? Or to tell them to conserve energy while the cumulative square-footage of your homes is measured in the tens of thousands of square feet? Or to ask them to pay more taxes while your high-priced accounting firms are protecting your money? Of course it is, but hypocrisy cannot penetrate the bubble.
They care. Not like the greedy businessmen (from whom they collect their salaries and perks), but like the genuine people they really are.
However, the truth is that most celebrity political talk is just noise. It’s fodder for the entertainment shows and publications. People listen, not because they particularly care about what these folks have to say, or to get advice about how to vote or how to live, but simply because it’s a celebrity speaking.
Personally, I try not to mix my political side with my entertainment side. And, frankly, I would be appalled if anyone made an important political or lifestyle decision based on the advice of a TV game show host. Maybe that’s the best news about the bubble: it not only protects us, but it protects you from us.
Pat Sajak is the host of "Wheel of Fortune." He writes for ricochet.com. To read more of his posts for ricochet.com on additional topics, including his reaction to the movie "Mrs. Miniver," click here.