This month, the latest Hollywood star to fall from grace is Ellen DeGeneres – the chat show host who has long been defined by her ‘Be Kind’ mantra. It has emerged that there are a few employees who certainly feel she practices very differently to what she preaches. The pile on has been huge, with the Washington Post taking a chance to get a few digs in again because of DeGeneres’s friendship with George W Bush, and thousands calling for her cancellation.
That’s the problem with cancel culture, of course, it eventually devours even those that feed it. But why is anyone surprised that the ‘Be Kind’ mantra was more of a marketing tagline than an actual guiding work ethic? Contrary to Disney animations and feel good superhero movies, Hollywood is not and should not be the basis for our moral grounding as a society.
Yet the sector that has harboured the likes of Roman Polanski and Harvey Weinstein, is continually holding itself out to be the moral authority for the world to follow. Not content with virtue signalling, they spend much of their time telling everyone else how to live – and especially how to vote. From the profanity-laced, anti-Trump rants of DeNiro, to the mock beheading of Trump by Kathy Griffin, to the musings of Madonna and Johnny Depp about murdering the incumbent US President, Hollywood has exposed its true core in response to the Trump era.
Hollywood is determined to divide the world evermore than Trump or Boris Johnson ever have. Actor Chris Evans has threatened to cut contact with 6 time Superbowl champion Tom Brady over his ties to President Trump. Eminem has disavowed any of his supporters who support the President. Hell, Hollywood is now determined to boycott pro-life states but will grant awards to convicted rapists who flee the country post-conviction like Roman Polanski.
Recently, stars of the stage and screen – as well as sport celebrities – have been criticised for praising Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan despite his repeated use of anti-Semitic tropes.
That was in sharp contrast to the pile-on endured by JK Rowling, where the stars of the Harry Potter movies rounded on the creator of the franchise which earned them millions, for the crime of (checks notes) stating that transgender men are not women. JK Rowling is no conservative and has been a staunch LGBT+ ally but because she dared to digress from the wokest of political viewpoints, she has since been the subject of boycotts, death threats, and targeted harassment from celebrity and activist alike.
Perhaps, we should look to the idolisation of resident funny man Jim Carrey. This is the man who Hollywood celebrates for his graphic attacks on Republicans from depicting the Governor of Alabama being aborted, to his vile targeting of Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Yet this Hollywood thought-leader is also an anti-vaxxer who believes autism derives from vaccinations, and calling a Democratic Californian Governor a “corporate fascist” for enacting safe vaccinations for children. In Tinseltown, his viewpoints are more acceptable than Chuck Norris being pro-life, or Clint Eastwood not liking Obama.
Hollywood is built upon playing pretend both on and off the screen. The characters and depictions we adore are a façade constructed by individuals we wouldn’t want to have a beer with (or leave our daughters with for that matter). Why do we insist on lionising not-so-nice individuals on the basis of their ability to do a job? The sooner we deprive Hollywood of the attention and adulation they crave the better.
There’s a reason we are told never to meet our heroes. The chances of the portrayal on screen matching up with the person portraying, are slim. Is everyone who preaches ‘Be Kind’ or works in animation a good person? No, of course not. Many are in it, because they have a particular knack for the art of pretend or at putting together a story. Enid Blyton was a famed children’s book author but hated children. Roald Dahl created storybook wonders like Matilda and the BFG but was an anti-Semite. The creator of Mary Poppins, P.L. Travers split up twins and adopted only one on the recommendation of an astrologer! The world of storytelling and the arts are not dominated by good people, they are dominated – much like any other sector of society – by those who do it best regardless of their moral fibre. In Hollywood’s case, it just seems those who do dominate in many cases seem to have a particularly dark downside.
Hollywood is not normal. These millionaires and billionaires are not affected by recessions and wars in the same way as the average American. Paycheck-to-paycheck to Hollywood is a line in a movie about the working class, as opposed to being a way of life for millions of Americans. Whilst Jennifer Lawrence can take a sabbatical to be a “political activist”, ordinary Americans have to fit their politics around the demands of their work. When Hollywood celebrities push for open borders, it’s worth considering that they are unlikely to be affected by greedy employers undercutting workers in the same way as a waiter or a hairstylist.
Hollywood advocates for policies and politicians that will never affect them. Hollywood preaches morality, yet practices the most grievous of sins. If you wish to see good values or heroes, don’t look to Hollywood – look to the single mother working herself to the bone to give her children a better life; the family raising kids to be decent human beings, look to the countless service men and women who serve in uniform wherever their country sends them – look to the legal immigrant like my uncle who came from nothing and came through immigration system legally to pursue the American dream.
Let’s place value in ourselves, not in Hollywood.