Mark Duplass deserves some sort of an award.
The indie titan behind HBO’s “Togetherness” and the co-star of FX’s “The League” did something few other stars attempt these days. He went on a conservative talk show to listen. And learn.
He didn’t even appear to have a product to plug!
Duplass’ extended chat with conservative podcaster Steven Crowder proved enlightening, occasionally funny and never mean-spirited. The actor/director sincerely wanted to reach across the aisle in a way rarely done these days.
Mission more than accomplished.
Duplass and Crowder locked horns over President Donald Trump, celebrity activism, immigration and more. You could sense where each stood, and it’s likely few opinions got flipped. And yet Duplass probably walked away with, at the very least, a better understanding of what the average conservative thinks.
Which brings us to Kristen Bell. The star of CBS’s “The Good Place” and the upcoming “CHiPs” film recently defended her fellow stars for their political activism.
“So I’m not a citizen anymore because I’m an actor? F*** that,” Bell said during a conversation at the inaugural BE Conference, a gathering of influential women in Austin, Texas…
“I’m not any less allowed to share what I believe, and I’m very lucky for that and to have the audience. When people are listening you don’t quiet down, you speak up,” Bell said to applause.
She’s correct … on paper.
No one is saying she, or any other celebrity, doesn’t have a right to speak out. It still begs two significant questions:
- Will doing so hurt their careers?
- Are they actually having an impact with their rhetoric?
The first is up for debate, although anecdotally speaking some consumers have had enough with the constant proselytizing.
The second is growing more clear. They appear to be having the opposite effect. Besides, no other politician had Hollywood on their side quite like Hillary Clinton did in the waning days of the campaign.
And remember the results?
So how should celebrities push forward without losing their voice? Far be it from me, a conservative film critic, to offer the “other team” advice. Still, in the spirit of Duplass’ outreach here are six ways Hollywood can improve its political activism.
Pull a Duplass
Duplass could have appeared on MSNBC, Stephen Colbert’s “Late Show” or The Young Turks. The conversation would cover the expected ground. Few minds would change as a result. So what’s the point?
Why not appear on right-leaning shows to share your political views? Many hosts, like Crowder and Hugh Hewitt, would welcome the exchange. Crowder was aggressively polite to Duplass.
FAST FACT: Brothers Jay and Mark Duplass signed a two-year deal with HBO in 2017 to create TV product for the network.
Did any conservative listeners come away from the Crowder/Duplass debate thinking the liberal actor was a jerk? Seems darn near impossible. Instead, they heard an open dialogue as well as a perspective they may not hear in such context.
Let’s talk. Openly. And listeners can decide who has the better argument.
[Fill in the Blank] Isn’t Hitler
The “Trump is Hitler” meme began in Hollywood circles long before the reality show star become our Commander in Chief. That’s not good … or healthy.
Once upon a time, playing the Hitler card got you thrown out of the debate. Today, it’s too often a starting point for liberal celebrities.
Stop. No one on the right will take you seriously after you deal that card. No one. The same goes for other political adjectives, like “fascist.” Liberals have been calling conservatives fascists for years. It’s not a way to change any minds.
Debate, Don’t Lecture
Ever wonder why stars love to get political while making acceptance speeches? It’s easy. There’s no one there to rebut their arguments. The crowd of like-minded souls in the venue will applaud. News reporters, who unabashedly lean left, will dub the rants “brave.”
Only a few conservative pundits and social media denizens will call them out. And those barbs likely never reach the stars in question.
So do more than serve up one-sided lectures. Seek out forums where your views will be challenged, be it online, in podcast form or other venues. And be ready to back up your facts.
Love Trump Hate? Now, Live It
It might be the most shopworn phrase of the Trump Era. “Love trumps hate!” It’s what many a progressive activist cries … in between slamming their opponents.
Look at Jimmy Kimmel. The most recent Oscars host shared a heartfelt plea for unity during his Academy Awards monologue. Then, minutes later, he accused President Trump of being a racist.
It’s like a punk rock band telling us to come together as people and then barking “f*** Trump” later in the show.
You won’t get anywhere blasting your opponents as the very worst of humanity. A few may be just that. The rest, a rather large group, simply have a different governing philosophy. Period.
No More PSAs. Really
There’s nothing more smug than a celebrity cutting a PSA to tell you how to vote. And think.
The tropes are well established. The serious looks. The makeup-free appearance. The attempts at comedy betwixt nasty attacks. The repetitive phrasing. The simplistic lectures. The spare backdrop.
Smug, smug smug. And hopelessly unconvincing.
Which means the stars should stop making them. Why even bother? They instantly become fodder for uproarious Twitter memes. And it’s just more preaching to the choir.
Sounds nasty, right? Did you read some of the celebrity comments post-election?
Now, that’s nasty. And it’s hard to take someone seriously after hearing those kind of comments.
Drop the nasty. This is still America. We have checks and balances that can keep any president, even an out of control one, from overstepping his or her bounds. Speak with clarity, intelligence and wit. Tantrums are for children.
Now, perhaps none of the above will be well received in Hollywood circles. Comments made by liberal celebrities could simply be a way of lashing out or offering insta-therapy.
Then have at it.
But, if stars truly want to change a heart or mind, maybe more than a few, these six steps are a great place to start.