There’s a Cold War brewing between celebrities and Red State USA.
Conservatives, in turn, rage against these “bubble-dwelling” denizens. Some even vow not to see certain movies based on the politically-charged comments spewed by stars.
It’s no coincidence that the summer box office fell to frightening lows just months after the industry turned on the new president. It’s hardly the only reason for the slump. But it’s dishonest to ignore it as a factor.
In short, things are ugly. And it could get worse as awards season continues. We’re already seeing interviews where major stars slam right-of-center voters an slam America circa 2017 as racist.
Heck, Stevie Wonder called those who don’t immediately blame the recent hurricanes on Climate Change as “blind or unintelligent” during a celebrity fundraiser Tuesday.
From Bad to Worse
The disconnect between a huge swath of the country and La La Land has never been worse. There’s something that could reverse that trend, though. This single act might make some conservatives reconsider their anger at the Clooneys, Streeps and Dunhams.
What is it?
Support free speech.
More specifically? Support “Free Speech Week.”
Former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon will join conservative firebrands Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter and more than a dozen speakers at “Free Speech Week” on the University of California, Berkeley campus later this month.
Yes, Hollywood’s best and brightest must swallow hard and hit every media platform possible. The rallying cry?
Free Speech Matters. No qualifiers. No comparing conservatives, even those as incendiary as Coulter, to Nazis or White Supremacists. Drop the identity politics and rally ’round the First Amendment.
How? Speak from the heart about what free speech means to them, and how even their ideological opponents deserve to be heard.
What if they can’t manage it? Here’s a simple cheat sheet stars can read from … in case the words fail them.
“Hi, I’m [insert celebrity name]. I disagree with Ann Coulter, Steve Bannon and Milo Yiannopoulos on the critical issues our nation faces. I still believe deep in my heart that free speech is essential to our Republic. For that reason I fully support the group’s appearance at UC Berkeley. And I condemn attempts to silence their voices or engage in violent tactics during their appearance.”
Tweet it. Say it during media interviews. Record an A-list celebrity video, just like the PSAs that attempted to drag the deeply unpopular Hillary Clinton over the finish line last year. The ones a gaggle of conservative stars cheerily mocked earlier this year.
Pull out all the stops. And, most importantly, keep the message 100 percent free of partisan politics. Free speech isn’t a political landmine. Or, at least it shouldn’t be.
Stop the Presses
Just imagine the fallout. Reporters would capture every last syllable, their jaws collectively dropping in the process. Some outlets might editorialize against the effort. More than a few, actually.
Celebrities would have to stay strong. Don’t backpedal.
Because free speech matters.
None of this will happen, of course. Celebrities have had plenty of chances to defend free speech in recent months.
They’ve stayed silent while free speech got attacked on campuses nationwide.
They sat on their hands as people lost their jobs for saying the “wrong” thing. No musicians, to this reporter’s knowledge, sprang to the defense of Dream Machine when the group’s label dropped them for the “crime” of sharing mainstream conservative thoughts.
And the vast majority of celebrities stayed mum while a hashtag campaign tried to kill an upcoming HBO show before a single episode went before the cameras. Judd Apatow was a notable exception.
It’s time to make amends for that embarrassing silence. Supporting Free Speech Week is the perfect place to start.