Not only did Republicans try to demonstrate to Democrats that Hollywood liberalism was a liability, but they now want to instill fear in actor activists as well. In a USA Today rant headlined ”Stars Risk Popularity for Politics,“ right-wing radio talk-show host (and second-rate film critic) Michael Medved issued what can only be called a not-so-veiled threat one day after the midterm elections: ”Leaders of the Hollywood left may console themselves with the thought that their previous partisanship did no lasting damage to their careers, but a few exceptions to that rule ought to give them pause. Oliver Stone and Alec Baldwin, for instance, have definitely lost some of the clout and popularity they once enjoyed, thanks to a series of personal embarrassments, including arguably their strident and predictable political radicalism. The recent ratings collapse of NBC‘s acclaimed program The West Wing . . . obviously coincides with the edgy insistent anti-war activism of the show’s star Martin Sheen.“
What crap. Any Hollywood insider knows that both Stone‘s and Baldwin’s careers collapsed because of too many bad movies and too much arrogant behavior. And that West Wing‘s problem has been second-rate scripts, not Sheen. (Medved also loses credibility by decrying Hollywood’s R-rated movies yet embracing Arnold Schwarzenegger, who‘s been responsible for 500-some onscreen deaths.) Warren Beatty, who’s in more career trouble than anyone in Hollywood (all of it his own making), told The New York Times during this election, ”I have found I need to be much more careful of what I say because when those opinions go against the grain, then one is subjected to all kinds of ad hominem attacks.“ And Hollywood Democrat Richard Dreyfuss made the surprising confession to the Washington Post that he didn‘t vote in this midterm election. ”I got my absentee ballot and I tore it up. That was my vote.“
How sad if this new outside pressure means Hollywood’s political stars now start censoring or disenfranchising themselves. Because the only way to beat a bully is not to back down.