Sunday, September 28, 2008

How did they get so liberal?

I often think about how things got to be what they currently are now. The origins and evolutionary period of institutions, cultures, phrases, and methodologies can be fascinating to study and understand. Because this is an election year and celebrity presidential endorsements are a cause célèbre, my curiosity has turned to Hollywood and how it became so leftist in its political lineaments.

Are Hollywood celebrities, writers, designers and creators liberal because they simply have a "rebellious" or counter-cultural streak to their artistic character, or is an up-and-coming actor merely trying to "do as the Romans" do by observing the status quo that is projected by his peers?

This is indeed something worth pondering considerably.

I ask again, are the majority of Hollywood celebrities liberal as a result of their natural way of thinking, or is it a "culture of thought" an outsider working his way in assimilates in order to blend in and get ahead in the film industry?

This brings me to my next question: did you know that Senator Joseph McCarthy - the leading figure in blacklisting and destroying the careers of many Americans over the mere suspicion of communist party affiliation - was a Roman Catholic? This is the same right-wing Joseph McCarthy who, in the 1950's, held hearings and made paranoid accusations of communist and Soviet spies infiltrating American government agencies, military branches, and film industry for the purposes of overthrowing the government of the United States. He is the same individual whose techniques gave rise to the derogatory term "McCarthyism", which can be described as a process that utilizes investigatory methods analogous to those used in the Salem Witch Trials. McCarthy was unable to substantiate his many sensational accusations, and on December 2, 1954 he was condemned by his Senate colleagues for serious misdeeds during his political witch hunt for threats that did not exist.

Either Hollywood has always been as liberal as it is today, but closeted such tendencies because of the overwhelming conservative mindset of most Americans in the 1950's, or it liberalized as a backlash to McCarthyism and other societal taboos that are identified as bearing some likeness to McCarthyism.

If Joseph McCarthy's demagoguery was instrumental in shaping the American film industry into what it is today, then we can attribute, in part, two of Hollywood's cultural conditions to him. Number one is the celebrity commitment to liberal social issues and to the equally left-of-center politicians who advance them; and, number two, the inherent, and widely accepted anti-Catholic vitriol gushing from the mouths (and fingers) of some of Hollywood's leading residents.

Here's one ironic fact you might not know about. The Kennedy clan (Democrats)befriended Joseph McCarthy (Republican) and were even intimidated by the political influence he exercised over John F. Kennedy's constituency in Massachusetts.


Adrienne said...

Fact is - history has proved that McCarthy was right!

Tracy said...

It is just such a different time. My mom grew up when John Kennedy was president and then it was ok to vote democratic and he was a Catholic President and his parents had what.. 13 kids or something like that? And there wasn't the talk of abortion etc.
Something has happened.. we have become such a "me" centered society and we don't dare step and and say "no, this is wrong" instead we say "well, this is wrong for me but I don't have the right to tell that person how to live" and on and on it goes.. ok, I had a point somewhere in this but just got a little lost:)

Tom in Vegas said...


Your point is evident and I completely agree with you!

Auntie A-

There are some VERY leftist celebrities in Hollywood, although I can't figure how they can take those positions and be affluent at the same time.

Adrienne said...

Well - makes ya wonder....

kris said...

There is only one thing I know.

I'm voting for the other guy. (wink).

paramedicgirl said...

Tom, remember that post you did about separating abortion from pro life to gain the support of atheists? Well, Suzanne over at Big Blue Wave (one of Canada's pro-life blog)has a post about that very subject. Seems the atheist abortion doctors in Russia are starting to realize they are murdering a human being. Interesting article. If you get time, go read it.

Katie Alender said...

You know, I think it's partly more correlation than causality. Young conservatives are more likely to start families rather than move across the country, especially in the historical context of the 1940s and 1950s. And then it's additive--the more liberal folks in LA, the more liberal a city it becomes, and therefore more attractive to liberals and somewhat less so for conservatives.

Also, speaking from experience, conservatives in Hollywood tend to keep their mouths shut. Maybe for two reasons--(1) because they don't see it as their place to speak about politics (this applies to some liberals as well, but there are a lot who don't feel this way, as we all know) and (2) because they don't want to be stereotyped or pigeonholed, or have their work stereotyped.

It's a very liberal town, although on an individual basis people tend to be pretty open-minded about other people's politics. In my experience, at least.

Terry Nelson said...

You bring up very complex issues. McCarthy was right on many levels - although he had his personal demons that his enemies exploited. Nevertheless, he was actually a typical Catholic husband and father for the time.

Leftist socialism has always been in Hollywood, and in the '50's the anti-communist scare was so great, everyone was being rounded up in every sector of society. The USSR wanted to infiltrate their doctrine into every profession in our society, and they did so; arts, entertainment, and education. That is what we see today. I frequently say that if Obama and the Clinton's were active in McCarthy's day with their proposals, they would have been charged as Communists.

Times have indeed changed and what was considered anti-American is regarded as liberal patriotism today, and the celebrities present the propaganda for the "Change" Obama and the Dems are promoting.

Sorry this is so long, but remember Vietnam and all the protests? - even Jane Fonda going to Hanoi? - their revolution worked to the degree we see it in the mainstream today.

Tom in Vegas said...


Thank you for bringing to my attention the post on the Big Blue Wave blog. I'm encouraged by seeing a shift in trends in the former Soviet Union, and i can only hopes it spreads all the way to China and, yes, the U.S.!

Katie and Terry-

You are both correct. This is indeed a very complex issue with many contributing factors. I just wish the folks in Hollywood would be a little more towards the center than so far to the left. But, Katie, you are correct in pointing out that Republican celebrities are less vocal than Democratic ones, thereby giving the impression that all of Hollywood is liberal.