Celeb Dissent


Funny girl Janeane Garofalo does not come across well in this Buzzmachine post about a panel discussion on media bias. It's as if "actors are not allowed First Amendment rights, not allowed to have opinions," Jeff Jarvis quotes her as saying. Cry me a river.

On the other hand, I do think celebrity bashing, while clearly fun for the kids, has gotten ridiculous. Yes, there's a lot of sanctimonious celebrity fools out there. (Richard Gere is my personal fave.) And yes, actors can be woefully uninformed yet oh-so-certain in their frothy opining. Much like most people.

But the fact is, any equally uninformed celebrity ignoramus taking a pro-war position wouldn't be lambasted and ridiculed for speaking out. No would would say, "It's not your place, you Latte-drinking nitwit!"; he'd or she'd be feted at White House dinners and performing for the troops; sipping coffee with Katie Couric and writing guest posts for Instapundit.

NEXT: Mechanical Garden

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  1. I suspect any celeb with non-leftist opinions on anything would be generally shunned and vilified, either publicly or privately, by their peers. No more A-List Hollywood functions. Much like a reverse McCarthy. And Katie Couric? You’ve GOT to be kidding. I’d be shocked to see someone with non-leftist views sipping coffee with her. Getting grilled and lectured, yeah, but no coffee.

  2. The same people who pillory Garofalo don’t seem to be bothered by Charlton Heston leading the NRA, by Arnold Schwarzenegger thinking about running for governor or by any one of dozens of country music singers talking ’bout how the U.S. is going to kick someone’s butt.

    Seems to me that everyone — famous or not — should have the same right to rant incoherently; judge them by what they say, not who they are. Besides, considering we’ve had an actor as a president and a professional wrestler as a governor, is there any usefulness to drawing a line between celebrities and politicians anymore, anyway?

  3. Might I point out that these celebrities are taking a huge risk to their career by speaking out either way. Hollywood was targetted by the McCarthy-ites in the 50’s and many careers were destroyed. I can’t think of another profession that’s ever been treated like that. (Maybe lawyers, but they don’t count.)

    I’m sure Ashcroft is taking some notes and if not he, some citizen’s group will be talking about boycots. Judging by some of the posts here, getting a piece of their professional asses nowadays would be just fine by them, too.

    So, I give them credit for putting their ideas on the line in public. If I were in their place I’d think long and hard before I did that.

  4. >>So, I give them credit for putting their ideas on the line in public.

  5. Speaking of distinctions between celebrities and politicians, I did particularly enjoy the episode of Saturday Night Life featuring Sen. John McCain singing Barbara Streisand songs (badly), and then pointing out that he’s sure Barbara doesn’t appreciate him trying to do her job, so she should think twice about trying to do his. Not that I’m particularly a fan of John McCain or a Striesand hater, but funny nonetheless.

    Sad thing is, it is probably easier to determine whether someone is qualified to sing or act than to determine if they’re qualified to govern.

  6. Hollywood did a “rewrite” on the actual history of the McCarthy era. The Hollywood version is that the accusations of being communists was all a hysterical “witch hunt”. In fact there were indeed communists – some of them guilty of treason, such as the Rosenbergs. Others were merely what Lenin called “usefull idiots”. But they WERE communists nontheless.

  7. Lefty:

    There are definitely risks to speaking out. But I’d be a lot more afraid to be identified as a “radical” if I DIDN’T have the public recognition of a Garofalo or Sarandon. If they diasppear into an internment camp, the State takes a huge risk of negative public reaction, even during a crisis.

    On the other hand, if there’s another 9-11 (spontaneous or manufactured), it’s likely that Ashcroft or Ridge will immediately pull the draft of USA PATRIOT III, IV or V out of his desk drawer to be rubber-stamped by Congress. And there’s a good chance that the government’s contingency plans under “Garden Plot” will be implemented for detention of a few tens of thousands of “subversives.” Those likely to be rounded up, in such a scenario, will be identified leaders or members of radical organizations heavily involved in the anti-globalization and antiwar movement. As a member of the Wobblies, I can’t say I’m thrilled at the prospect.

    Keep in mind that Garden Plot’s roots go back to LBJ administration, when U.S. elites decided that they would never again tolerate mass disorder on the scale of the 60s in opposition to a war. The Readiness Exercises ’83 and 84′ (“Rex-83, -84”) for implementing Garden Plot were carried out during the Reagan administration. The scenario was a foreign war, such as an invasion of Central America, in which mass opposition on a large scale rendered the country ungovernable. The exercises were carried out under the direction of Ollie North, who was the NSC’s liaison to Louis Giuffrida at FEMA.

    And under the terms of the Reno/Schumer 1996 counter-terrorism legislation, and USA Patriot, the executive already has the unilateral power to classify any group he wants as “terrorist” on his own authority, and to subject it to the forfeiture provisions of RICO without due process. Under the proposed Domestic Security Enhancement Act, he will have authority to strip an American of his citizenship (and subject him to the Padilla treatment) on the basis of “aid” to any such organization, even if you sent in a contribution for its lawful activities BEFORE it was classified as “terrorist” by executive fiat.

    If you’re already identified as a member of the wrong kind of group, the safest thing you can do is probably to stay as visible as possible and make sure you have a support network that will make a lot of noise if you’re “requested to assist the authorities with certain inquiries.”

  8. Lefty, I’d be inclined to say that the Left has begun their own McCarthy-ish witch hunts. Try dissenting with their stands on abortion, affirmative action or environmental issues and see what response you get. It ain’t just the right.

  9. Kevin,
    Greetings my tinfoil hat wearing friend! Do you really belive that America’s 60 million gun owners would tolerate that type of clear-cut criminal behavior by our government? Eris be with you.

  10. Pray tell, Gilbert, which Hollywood films list Julius Rosenberg in the credits? And, on the off chance that there is one, why should I give a crap?

    “there were indeed communists – some of them guilty of treason” Yes, and there really were acts of violence against Germans in the Sudetenland. Point, please?

  11. Steve – you guys are winning all the political battles on abortion, affirmative action and the environment but still act like you’re being picked on. Every branch of the government is loaded toward the conservative right wing and they are screwing things up royally.

    Quit whining and start governing.

  12. one thing that is sorta irritating about the celebrities (and non celebrities we all know and have heard) who claimed that if dubyah got elected, they’d “move to canada” or some such.

    or how a list stars talk about how wonderful castro is, when they wouldn’t ever get to that level in such a system.

    i think it’s a good thing whenever anyone speaks out, preferably intelligently (but i don’t like shutting up) — Lefty, you are public here in these discussions. and it’s great that others disagree or agree — it’s all part of this wonderful free marketplace of ideas. there are some klunker products out there, we don’t buy. same with our exchanges of ideas. we like some, not others. but the beauty is that we may still exchange these ideas.

    One example where the left has a mccarthyite stranglehold on the discourse is in the many ivory towers where the post-modern “straight white male” bashers rule the roost.

    and as for katie k., doesn’t she get all bent out of shape about nudity, violence, etc. in film? so she might be left wing on many issues, the parlor-ready prudish attitude is also apparent with her.

    it’s where the non-pc ideas, whether right or left wing, get squelched under the force of popular opinion.

    and that McCain doing babs was hilarious!!!!!


  13. Congrats Joe. That was a colosally ignorant post. Gilbert was responding to Lefty’s argument that the present outcry against anti-war activists in Hollywood is just as wrong and unfounded as the HUAC’s investigations. Gilbert’s response is that the investigations were not unfounded. The existence of communists in Hollywood, in the U.S. in the 1950s, dedicated to the overthrow of the U.S. government, is documented fact. The Russians have admitted this. Some of the accused named names. In other words, McCarthy was an ass and a lout, but that didn’t necessarily make him wrong about the threat.

    Denying the validity of somebody’s hastily blogged argument based on slightly shoddy grammar is very bad form, and it’s also an implicit admission of the poverty of one’s own argument.

  14. The same people who pillory Garofalo don’t seem to be bothered by Charlton Heston leading the NRA, by Arnold Schwarzenegger thinking about running for governor or by any one of dozens of country music singers

    I’m not going to defend country music singers (they have much to explain, particularly their taste in music), but what is wrong with Heston and Schwarzenegger?

    Heston is spokesman for the NRA because he was elected to the position, and he has willingly accepted the harm that has done to his acting career (a lot of actors, actresses, and directors flat-out refuse to work with him now). What’s wrong with speaking on behalf of an organization that elected you to lead it? Nor is Heston a johnny-come-lately where human rights are concerned; he was active in the civil rights movement back when it was actually dangerous for actors to take that stance. Now Ted Nugent, on the other hand…

    And Schwarzenegger, if you’ve ever heard him speak outside of an “E!” interview, is really quite an intelligent and well-informed individual. He has also been active in politics for decades. I know a lot of Californians, myself included (and I’m not a Republican) who wouldn’t mind seeing him as our governor. Look at our current and previous Governors, Davis and Wilson — it’s hard to imagine how Arnie could be worse.

  15. Lazarus,

    I’ve ceased, on request, to identify myself with the T.F.H. contingent or make related jokes. But my head protection has nothing to do with it–I just woke up one day and saw the fnords.

    The stuff on Garden Plot, Rex 83, etc., is pretty well documented. The president has had power on paper to suspend the U.S. Constitution by executive order at least since Kennedy.

    However, I agree with you that there are serious practical difficulties in implementing this stuff. I can’t imagine it taking place unless the gang running the State saw total loss of control as the inevitable alternative. And given the severe risk involved and the catastrophic consequences of failure, I’m hoping that the corporate/state elite is as prone to denial and procrastination (the boiled frog syndrome) as the rest of us.

    I share your doubt that they could pull it off successfully. The fact that the American civilian population (thank God) owns more small arms than all the regular armies in the world put together is only one reassuring fact. Even if a majority of middle America initially accepted the rationale of a “temporary” crackdown to “preserve our democracy,” sporadic and uncoordinated resistance by everybody from the Militia of Montana to the Panthers and Nation of Islam would render large areas of the country ungovernable. A majority of regular cops and soldiers would probably have trouble carrying out arrests against unarmed citizens for exercising their constitutional rights. Even the middle American sheeple would suffer an erosion of confidence pretty damned fast. Not to mention things like hacker attacks on TIA, etc.

    In the end, the elite may pull back from the brink because the prospect of fighting “Two, Three, Many Vietnams” on U.S. soil is too much for them.

    Yours in Reynolds Wrap,


  16. Make of it what you will, but someone is collecting the ‘dumb’ things hollywood stars say:


    Lots of anti-bush hyperbole here, among other things. Hollywood may be predominantly left wing, but perhaps we should reserve a category for the ‘stupid wing’ to put both right and left idiots into.

    I forget – which one is the stupid party, and which the evil party? Can’t they be both?

  17. Kevin:
    I don’t doubt it. The Constitituion is and will always be just a piece of paper. But how can you justify your anti-war stance then?

    You must admit that terrorism is a bigger threat to liberties than Ashcroft. If an Islamist Radical lights up a nuke in Denver there WILL be a police state and popular one at that. For the average person, security ALWAYS trumps liberty. And getting nuked by terrorists will the consequence of doing nothing (which is most anti-war folks seem to advise).

    Yeah I know its all blowback for our corporate empire, etc. But that is water under the bridge at this point. Destroying Iraq to squeeze the Paks and Saudis makes perfect sense in the War on Terror — in a machiavellian way.

  18. lefty,

    I’ll admit the right is doing a less-than-stellar job of governing. On the other hand, I’d not be real thrilled with the governance of the left either. I’m with Jim. Both parties are stupid AND evil.

  19. Service, Lazarus!

    Must?!! The terrorists will not curtail our liberties in the sense of directly legislating on the American people. The actual process of curtailment, even in response to a terrorist attack, will be carried out by Ashcroft and crew in the Ministry of Love.

    And the issue remains of what future course of action is less likely to result in more terrorism.

    Frankly, the national security state has a vested interest in a new Reichstag Fire–ahem, I mean terrorist attack. They sure turned on a dime to pull out all the stuff that Chuck Schumer and the jackboots couldn’t railroad through in peacetime, and to carry out plans like the Afghan war that were already worked out before 9-11. The folks who carry out your recommended foreign policy can be pretty damned machiavellian at home, too–and they’re as aware as you are of the benefits of security trumping liberty.

    But in any case, the point remains: you’re advocating trusting the U.S. elite that caused the problem to solve it by granting them even more unaccountable power to do more of the same. And that involves trusting their good faith and taking their value judgments of who is a “terrorist” and who is a “freedom fighter” (which translates into who is “our SOB”–and the “our” isn’t present company).

    The U.S. could carry out the PNAC agenda in the Middle East, nuke N. Korea, and create a Ken MacLeod-style (“The Star Fraction”) world order with orbital lasers incinerating conventional ground forces, and the whole bit, and it wouldn’t stop terrorism. It would just lead to a squalid, violent future of perpetual counterinsurgency war and sporadic terror attacks, as long as the Empire lasted. (Probably something like a cross between “Blade Runner” and “Brazil”).

  20. Usual libertarian tripe of how we are so much better than both parties. “They both suck!” This is why hyperlibertoids are marginalized. They’re just too good for everyone else. Wow, how contrarian they are.

  21. Conservative celebrities do get attacked. James Woods was fairly well lambasted on Tapped a while back, and Charlie Daniels seems to be taking some heat now, as well. And you can’t say that people have exactly been kind to Charlton Heston.

    I don’t worry about the way people treat liberal celebrities now, I worry about when the war is over and we’ve won, but the adrenelin hasn’t faded and people start looking to whack around anyone who was hesitant or appeared less than loyal beforehand. That’s when things could get really ugly.

  22. I must have missed the State Dinner and USO tour for Dennis Miller.

    The reason that Garrofolo has gotten so much grief is that her arguments are woefully uninformed and she’s whined incessantly about how nobody respects her. Charlton Heston and Tom Selleck get tremendous ridicule by the left for their positions on guns, but they don’t whine and cry about it.

  23. Please, people!

    I work in above referred to film industry, and if I so much as opened my mouth to say that I support the President on the war, jaws would hit the floor and people would look at me in horror. (“i thought you were one of us? what happened?”)

    It is a widely known, understood rule that very liberal politics rule in this industry. The reason most of these celebs speak out so readily (really it isn’t that risky) is the very nature of the protected cocoon they exist in. They are surrounded by people who believe the same things they do and don’t believe it’s actually possible for someone to take an opposing view – it is a safe environment for any liberal to state an opinion on politics.

    Now, if I were to state my true opinion in this crowd, that would be taking a risk.

  24. As usual, libertarians believe they have a monopoly on Reason.
    “Both (political) parties
    are stupid AND evil”? Translation: since
    the Democrats and Republicans don’t follow
    libertarian prescriptions for governance,
    they are intellectually and morally corrupt.

    What should we learn from this corollary
    of fundamental libertarian thought? A
    party of libertarians will never
    seriously contest the predominant political parties.

    Since governing politicians have to deal with messy situations, many of their solutions look like compromises, or as libertarians would say
    “corruption,” “irrational,” “evil.”

    This is not so say that corruption, irrationality,
    and evil are not problems which plague Washington.
    It is simply to say that solutions to these problems will not be found by people who seem
    to have no awareness of the difficulties and complexities which naturally accompany real
    circumstances, i.e. libertarians.

  25. Pillory Garafolo? She does that herself. This whole discussion is a change of the subject from what the policy should be to who should be allowed to talk about it. Garafolo gets a lot of airtime, but I think that Dennis Miller and David Spade got pretty good placement on the Tonight Show. Spade had one good line, something like “If I tell you I’m coming over next week to inspect your house for dope, how much am I going to find?”

    I don’t mind them speaking out, but I do think it’s kind of hypocritical for people who make money from violent films to demand gun control and no wars. Where would Hollywood be without guns and wars?

    And don’t expect for your celebrity to take the place of making sense. That’s where Garafolo runs into trouble.

  26. Let them speak out – makes them easier to identify.

    I have never spent a dime on anything connected with Hanoi Jane, never will. These people can trash talk America, they can bite the hands that feed them, that’s their right.

    But I do not elect to take my bitten hand out of my pocket to spend one cent on any product which has these people in any sort of relationship or role. If you want to call the tune, you have to pay the piper.

  27. >>The actual process of curtailment, even in response to a terrorist attack, will be carried out by Ashcroft and crew in the Ministry of Love.>And the issue remains of what future course of action is less likely to result in more terrorism.>Frankly, the national security state has a vested interest in a new Reichstag Fire–ahem, I mean terrorist attack. >The folks who carry out your recommended foreign policy can be pretty damned machiavellian at home, too–and they’re as aware as you are of the benefits of security trumping liberty.>But in any case, the point remains: you’re advocating trusting the U.S. elite that caused the problem to solve it by granting them even more unaccountable power to do more of the same.

  28. What’s missing from this discussion is a mention of the fact that since those making anti-war arguments are all either stupid, dishonest, or intellectually occluded, that they deserve derision.

    If what they were saying made more sense, they would be accorded more respect.

    By the same token, those on the right side of the argument deserve no such derision.

  29. “Frankly, the national security state has a
    vested interest in a new Reichstag Fire–
    ahem, I mean terrorist attack”

    It is hard to exaggerate how silly this
    statement is. The lack of terrorist attacks
    after 9/11 are not for lack of effort on
    the part of the terrorists.

    Again, the libertarian message is clear:
    if you do not apprehend the central
    maxims of libertarian thought as self-
    evidently true, you are either evil or

    It is amusing to see the self-described
    champions of reason talking conspiracy
    theory. What’s next, aliens have taken
    over the White House?

  30. David,

    Any libertarian with an interest in the real world joined the Republican party long ago. The posters and writers here represent the Libertarian party-type libertarians. The ones that ran a blue candidate for congress last fall.

  31. JDM:
    Realistic libertarians don’t join political parties.

  32. ll,

    I didn’t say “realistic” libertarians. I said libertarians with an interest in the real world, meaning with an interest in having an effect on reality, as opposed to those who prefer to indulge in pot fueled fantasies about how much insight they have into the way the man is keeping them down.

    Perhaps by “realistic,” you mean “cynical.”

  33. Wrong. I post here because the name of the place is REASON. That’s post-enlightenment, actual THINKING as opposed to superstition and broad-brush group trashing. And I firmly believe that concept can include both left and right.

    Political parties, imperfect as they are, are all we have to work with right now. Pick one that you can stomach and get involved.

  34. nay, i must disagree …

    it’s more like the old “dog walking on its hind legs” phenomeon: it’s not that celebrities take political stands, but that they take “pro-war” stands, that would garner them attention.

  35. Lazarus:

    Re the MacLeod point: I tend to like sci-fi that is based on plausible extrapolations from current events, or makes valid comments on trends in the real world. “Star Fraction” seems to me to do this: MacLeod’s “US-UN hegemony/New World Order” sounds an awful lot like the vision of the world promoted by Project for a New American Century.


    Since “conspiracy theory” automatically relegates a position to falsehood, I guess the alternative is to take all the State’s claims and its purported motivations at face value. The government would NEVER lie to us!

    In any case, you don’t have to believe in any sinister “conspiracy” to believe that policy making (due to the centralization of the state and corporate bureaucracies, and their rotation of personnel) is dominated by a small elite of relatively homogenous views.

  36. David wrote: “The lack of terrorist attacks
    after 9/11 are not for lack of effort on
    the part of the terrorists.”

    Actually, the lack of terrorist attacks *is* due to
    a lack of effort.

    Or do you actually believe all those terrorist threats
    based on some flight of fancy by some Guantanamo
    prisoner hoping for an extra serving of couscous, or
    the babbling of a person under torture desperate to
    get the electrodes off his balls?

    Remember that one about scuba divers? It’s amazing
    how credulous the government and the media are.

    The administration has been trying to maintain
    a constant “Reichstag fire” state of perceived threat
    all along. Especially when it’s politically advantageous.

  37. You have the problem with conspiracy theories exactly backwards. The conspiracy theorist ignores the arguments for or against anything based on a deeper understanding that the conspiracy seer has supposedly devined. It is the conpiracy theorist who does not address arguments, but simply changes the terms of debate.

    For example, rather than address the argument that the world as a whole is better off without Saddam Hussein in charge of Iraq, the conspiracy theorist claims that Bush is invading merely to capture oil fields for Hallibuton or because the electrodes in his brain are being controlled by a particularly violent lizard-man. Either point is equally irrelevant if legitimate pro-war arguments are ignored.

  38. Kevin, you realize that because of you the gov’t is monitoring this blog and everyone who posts on it, right?

    Although you can probably blame me too. I let my guard slip and used the word “explode” in an e-mail discussing clandestine meth labs. Damn Carnivore.

  39. “Remember that one about scuba divers? It’s amazing how credulous the government and the media are.”

    Hear the one about a group of hijackers flying planes into skyscrapers? What a whopper that one was too…

    “The administration has been trying to maintain a constant “Reichstag fire” state of perceived threat all along. Especially when it’s politically advantageous.”

    So I suppose you’re speaking from a position on authority here? You’re privy to all sorts of intelligence tracking the activity of terrorists and affirmatively know that there have been no attempts? Speaking of credulous…

  40. Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise support the war (or they did a few months ago at least), and I don’t see them being vilified.

  41. How does a “real world interest” lead one to join the Republican party? This is an awfully strange assertion really. Why the hell would I vote for someone like Liddy Dole (or Erskine Boles for that matter) who perfers protectionist measures to aid her state’s ineffecient textile industry over capitalism? Or for that matter, why would I vote fo that jackass George W. Bush who wants to give more money to religious organizations so in order to entrench the US government even more into the field of welfare, etc.? Republicans ARE NOT the party of limited government, they are the party of a different type of expansive government, and that’s about all those SOBS are.

    You know libertarians are quite frankly sick of Republicans and their snide attitudes towards Libertarians. If you want my vote, earn it bitch.

  42. Any libertarian with an interest in the real world joined the Republican party long ago

    Why the hell would any libertarian want to do that? The only libertarian ideals the Republicans have firmly backed are (a) reduced government regulation of business and (b) lower taxes. But they only achieve (b) by running huge deficits, which isn’t something a libertarian with a brain can agree with. But they also favor “blue laws” and governmental funding of religions, so the Democrats look better in that respect.

    Libertarians with brains back individual candidates, not political parties. Realistically speaking, both parties want a larger, stronger government with themselves in charge of it. Desire for greater personal freedom and smaller government only happens at the level of the individual politician, not at the level of the political party.

  43. Because, of course, Charlton Heston (and Ronald Reagan) have never been exposed to public ridicule . . .

    Garafalo should grow up. There isn’t a person with an opinion on the war who hasn’t been criticized – if you want to go on TV talking about the war but you haven’t decided whether or not WWII was a just war, then you’ll probably get criticized.

  44. Speilberg and Cruise (and others) aren’t actively popping up in front of every mic-holding reporter that will listen.

    If Garafaelo and others pop there heads up there is a chance that someone may use them as verbal target practice. Such is the price of celebrity. If they don’t argue their case well, whine, etc… all the more pleasure some will derive from slamming them. Such is the nature of humans.

    From my observations, the reason the celebrity anti-war crowd seems to be vilified more than the pro-war crowd is simply this: they don’t frame their argument very well. They seem to be repeating the same points (many of which are more anti-Bush than anti-war).

    There are many valid arguments against this war. If Gere, Garafaelo and others can’t construct a valid one on their own, and still choose to open their mouths, well what can one expect except that someone will shoot them down for their “intellectual dishonesty”.


  45. Jim N:

    Damn–I’ll have to start vetting my posts for key words.

  46. EMAIL: draime_2000@yahoo.com
    URL: http://www.pills-for-penis.com
    DATE: 01/25/2004 01:52:49
    Believing in God does not require believing in religion.

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