The New York Times asked screen legend Kurt Russell a provocative question given the tenor of today’s Hollywood.
INTERVIEWER: Speaking of an arena, Kurt, you’ve said in the past that celebrities shouldn’t really weigh in on politics. Do you still feel that way?
RUSSELL: Totally. I’ve always been someone who felt we are court jesters. That’s what we do. As far as I’m concerned, you should step away from saying anything so that you can still be seen by the audience in any character. There’s no reason entertainers can’t learn just as much as anybody else about a subject, whatever it is. But I think that what’s sad about it is that they lose their status as a court jester. And I’m a court jester. That’s what I was born to do.
It’s a decent answer by the “Christmas Chronicles 2” star. Too often, the American people are hypnotized by the opinions of Hollywood stars, people who earn a living by reciting script lines.
They may be pretty to look at and skilled at developing three-dimensional characters, but they unwisely lecture us about what politicians we should or shouldn’t support.
Thanks, but no thanks. I’ll hedge my bets listening to the garbage man next door than Hollywood’s rich and famous.
Russell spoke to the New York Times in connection with “The Christmas Chronicles 2,” now out on Netflix. The sequel casts him, once more, as ol’ Saint Nick alongside Mrs. Claus, played by his longtime squeeze Goldie Hawn.
Russell invokes his inner Michael Knowles with the “court jester” term — but it equally applies to celebrities. In essence, he’s saying stars don’t participate in the same reality as the rest of us. They are engines for other people’s motives and, therefore, malleable.
So why should we listen to them?
This past election saw endless virtue-signaling from the Hollywood elites on the evils of President Trump. It makes them feel like they’re living in the same world as us — you see — when the elites bemoan about political issues.
And yesterday the Colorado Secy of State told us that she spoke to #PostmasterGeneralDeJoy and he said he “did NOT agree with Trump’s lies about the safety of voting by mail.” He also does not agree with #AGBillBarr‘s lie about postal workers being bribed. They are the #SWAMP.
— bettemidler (@BetteMidler) September 18, 2020
Similarly, Mark Wahlberg is another actor who has called out Hollywood stars for their political statements:
A lot of celebrities did, do, and shouldn’t [talk about politics]. You know, it just goes to show you that people aren’t listening to that anyway. They might buy your CD or watch your movie, but you don’t put food on their table. You don’t pay their bills. A lot of Hollywood is living in a bubble. They’re pretty out of touch with the common person, the everyday guy out there providing for their family.”
This isn’t to say that every actor is automatically or inherently “out of touch.” Many stars do lack the credibility or knowledge of those who line up to watch their shows and films.
They are not thought-leaders — never have been — and we shouldn’t look to them for opine on real-world issues. They make us laugh. They make us cry. They entertain us. And they are incredible at reading words and reacting to them for an expensive screen.
This is the value of the Hollywood elites.
When I go on Twitter (or, increasingly, Parler) to read political news I seek out those with field credentials: public policy researchers, pundits, columnists and politicians with whom I agree.
I don’t demand show-offy, ad-hominem about Republicans courtesy Meryl Streep or Steve Carell. I don’t care what Tom Hanks thinks about Climate Change. What I care is that Netflix does not delete one of my favorite movies, “Forrest Gump.”
As we move closer to the new year, it would be valuable for Americans to rethink their relationship with those on the screen.
Gabe Kaminsky is an undergraduate at the University of Pittsburgh. His writing has appeared in The American Conservative, HollywoodinToto, RealClearPolitics, The Washington Times, and The Washington Examiner. He can be reached at gkaminskycontact [a] gmail.com.