As August winds to a close, midterm elections are just around the corner, and the debate on who will bring home the bacon in November is heating up – in Hollywood, that is.
“The Tea Party is going to split the Republican vote,” songstress Sheryl Crow predicted to Fox sister publication The Australian this week. “Which can only be good for the Democrats. That has to be the hope. Either that, or we all move to Canada.”
Crow is on tour to promote her new album, 100 Miles from Memphis. Reviews for the album have been mixed – but Crow has not minced words in giving her own review of the political scene. New song “Say What You Want” takes aim at Sarah Palin: “I saw you ranting on TV today // I heard you tell me to reload // You got a lot of nerve to talk that way // Someone unplug the microphone.”
Crow told The Australian, “It’s risky to do that because you just get slagged off for being preachy. But the morning Sarah Palin came out and said, ‘reload,’ there was no way I wasn’t going to write about that. I did struggle whether to put it on the record or not, because it’s such a hot button.”
The singer isn’t the only celebrity to chime in on a hot button issue this week. Longtime director and actor Robert Redford Wednesday sent out a fundraising email for incumbent Senator Barbara Boxer’s re-election campaign. “Barbara has been a champion for environmental protection in the U.S. Senate,” the email reads. “Without her there to lead the fight I fear that instead of learning the lessons of this moment and moving forward, we could find ourselves slipping backward.”
Redford joined Crow in taking a jab at Sarah Palin. “Like Sarah Palin, Carly Fiorina is a strong supporter of ‘drill, baby, drill’ – even in the wake of the disaster in the Gulf,” he wrote.
“A lot of celebrities shy away from making comments, because they don’t want to get involved, or feel they don’t have enough knowledge,” says UCLA lecturer and longtime celebrity profiler Larry Grobel. “But when you have polarizing politicians, when you have a Sarah Palin, a Ronald Reagan, a Barack Obama – you do see that people take sides.”
Grobel says that the sheer number of blogs, social media, talk shows, and news outlets clamoring for a well-known person to come and opine encourages celebrities to speak out on topics outside the entertainment realm. “You’re looking at all of these outlets every single day, some at night, looking for people to talk, to have opinions,” he says.
One star this week even felt obligated to explain why she doesn’t sound off on hot topics. “I’ve realized something my mother told me 22 years ago,” Julia Roberts said while on tour in Tokyo to promote her new movie "Eat, Pray, Love". “You’re an actor, act. Don’t talk about politics or religion.”
But while the Sean Penns, George Clooneys, and Jon Voights of the world are known as much for their politics as for their art, many Hollywood celebrities still stay out of the political arena – at least publicly.
“Jennifer Aniston has been on every single show this week, but you haven’t heard her talking about Afghanistan. You don’t hear Stallone talking about health care. Give me something of depth, something meaty,” says Grobel. “There’s a glut of celebrities not having opinions and being vapid and dumbing down America with attempts at promoting themselves over and over again. Let them take a note of seriousness once in a while.”