The most far-fetched, stranger-than-fiction tale to come out of Hollywood in our lifetimes receives no Oscars or even applause at this weekend’s Academy Awards. The longtime personifications of the industry’s hard-left politics now shockingly challenge the shibboleths and platitudes pushed by their industry.
Saying in 2003 that Sean Penn or Kevin Costner or Bill Maher someday, here and there, talk as though they read The American Spectator and watch Fox News would strike a lot of people as more outlandish than a movie in which blue people ride in the skies on the backs of flying dragons and swim underwater like fish.
“So, the movie goes like this,” Woody Harrelson told the Saturday Night Live audience this past weekend of a script he said he received in late 2019. “The biggest drug cartels in the world get together and buy up all the media and all the politicians and force all the people in the world to stay locked in their homes. And people can only come out if they take the cartel’s drugs and keep taking them over and over.”
Harrelson’s joke, particularly in its juxtaposition of the rambling, stoner setup with the sharp, punch-in-the-face punchline, came off as pitch perfect to viewers online. But in the Manhattan studio, where the audience reflected the political ethos of the Not Ready for Primetime Players, Harrelson encountered awkward silence followed seconds later by nervous laughter.
Last month Sean Penn called university DEI officers “a big investment in the hunting of witches,” ridiculed the pronoun police by declaring “I identify as a hot dog bun who wants its own bathrooms,” and said that “we know from every experiment around the world of socialism — it doesn’t work.”
Tim Robbins, once a member in good standing alongside Penn in Team America: World Police’s Film Actors Guild, felt “duped” by COVID rules. “We turned into tribal, angry, vengeful people,” he told Russell Brand on his podcast in December, “I don’t think that is something that’s sustainable for the earth, that we start demonizing people that don’t agree with our particular health policies and turn them into monsters, turn them into pariahs, say that they don’t deserve a hospital bed.”
What explains the transformations?
The cliché that conservatives at 20 lack heart and liberals at 40 lack brains, if a contributing factor, feels a little too easy. Past their prime earning years, they no longer experience such strong financial disincentives from embracing the company town’s proscribed opinions. People change; more so do societies. The personifications of leftism two decades later emerging as its critics serves as the best illustration of the breakneck speed of change in the United States.
Government employees fired for not speaking the biologically false and grammatically offensive pronouns demanded by another presuming to own their tongues, universities and corporations hiring platoons of commissars to enforce conformity, and the arrests of people for walking on the sidewalk, playing in a park, cutting hair, and jet-skiing on the ocean because unelected public health officials forbade it would shock our 2003 forebears more than Sean Penn calling socialism a failure. Our change precipitated their change.
Of course, Jon Stewart, John Cleese, Russell Brand, and other celebrities offering heterodox thoughts did not go full Charlton Heston. They just subscribed to some views proscribed by an ideology demanding full obedience. And not every actor-activist lampooned in Team America: World Police nearly two decades ago joins them as apostates. But time, prayers, and overreach by their political allies may push them over the edge yet.
We await the next defection.
George Clooney? Susan Sarandon? Alec Baldwin? You are on the clock.
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