Hollywood Republicans

Hosted by

This is Rob Long with Martini Shot on KCRW.

If you Google the words "lots and lots of Hollywood Republicans," you get about 58,900 hits, which just goes to show you that the internet is really just one big swamp of wishful thinking, political and pornographic. Because the truth is, even if you allot one Google hit per Hollywood Republican, you've still got about 58,885 hits too many.

About every four years, Republican fund-raisers and strategists lose contact with reality and declare "impressive inroads" in the Hollywood community. "A lot of Hollywood stars and industry professionals are really supportive of the Republican agenda," some glassy-eyed Republican mouthpiece will declare, with Moonie-like cheerfulness. "I've gotten a lot of phone calls from some major names in the business," some deluded Republican fantasist will chirp to some lazy, gullible reporter, "and let me tell you, they're interested in knowing just what this party is all about!"

It's a bit like poor Robert MacFarlane, all those years ago during the Reagan Administration, who arrived in Tehran on a secret mission to make "impressive inroads" with "Iranian moderates," clutching a bible and a cake in the shape of a key. Except in MacFarlane's case, there probably were some moderates around there, somewhere. And they probably ate the cake, too, since Persians are famous for their sweet tooth and aren't as obsessed as some of us out here in Hollywood are about sugar and carbs.

There aren't that many of us out here, it's true, but we really should stop complaining. After all, statistically, one out of every three Hollywood Republicans goes on to become President of the United States.

But why is Hollywood so Democratic?

The easy answer, like all easy answers, is money. For most Hollywood celebrities and executives, money cascades into the pockets with such torrential velocity that it ceases to have any real meaning. It's impossible to make a traditional Republican-cloth-coat appeal to someone wearing a fifteen-thousand dollar chartreuse leather suit.

The most incendiary political document ever printed isn't the Declaration of Independence, it's an ordinary pay stub. On it is declared, every pay period, what you were originally paid, what the government snuck out when you weren't looking, and what you're left with. The pay stub is, in fact, the most powerful direct mail piece in the Republican party arsenal.

Most Hollywood types, of course, never see a pay stub. Their paycheck makes a lot of stops along its path to the original payee: first to the agent, who skims his ten percent; then to the manager, who slices his fifteen; now to the lawyer, five percent please thank you; one last stop at the business manager, who collects his five, pays Uncle Sam, and reissues a check in an amount roughly eighty percent smaller than it was at the start.

It may also have something to do with the vaguely geriatric concept of "hard work," which for most people involves either lifting and/or moving and/or welding heavy, sharp objects; or toiling in some airless cubicle in desperate need of money. It does not, unlike Hollywood, involve yoga, tiny cell phones, and buying $1000 shirts. Put it this way: the grips, dolly-pushers, camera operators, gaffers, set construction guys, film loaders, and electricians on any movie set tend to be on the rightward side of the political discussion. The other folks, who tend to sit in their trailers a lot, drinking bottles of French water and talking on tiny cell phones, are on the left.

I once made this point to a lefty actor friend of mine. He scoffed. "You know the real reason the crew guys are so right wing?" he asked. "They all live, like, way out of town, out past the Valley, out beyond the San Gabriels, and they drive, like, I don't know, an hour or two to work every day, each way. So they listen to a lot of that right wing talk radio, all that Rush Limbaugh stuff, and it just turns them into right wing kooks."
"Why do they live so far away?" I asked.
"Because they can't afford to live any closer."
"Because they don't get paid much."
"Because actors and directors and producers get all the money."
"You mean all of those liberal democrat actors and directors and producers?"
"Just because they're liberal," my friend said, "doesn't mean they're not rat bastards." Which is true. In Hollywood, that particular population is deeply bi-partisan.

That's it for this week. Next week we get notes.

For KCRW this has been Rob Long with Martini Shot.



Rob Long