In the publicity build-up to Arianna Huffington’s launch of her ambitious new Huffingtonpost celebrity bloggers website, I thought it revealing to see that the default assumption in the mainstream reporting on it was that Hollywood bloggers would be liberals.
The New York Times report said, “The site is likely to start as a watering hole for liberals.” Variety reported, “Huffington is wisely confining her site mostly to politics. It’s safer, after all, for liberals to bash the government than Hollywood.”
It has become just a given. People speak of our town as being exclusively populated by liberals. It isn’t (and please count me alongside Chuck Heston, Mel Gibson and many other conservatives here), but non-liberals in Hollywood usually seem conspicuous or, if not yet secure in their stardom, stealthy.
For years, great minds the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Michael Medved have mused over what causes Hollywood’s leftward political tilt, but they have never quite nailed it. So, let this fool rush in with a theory here.
I haven’t seen anyone offer this elsewhere. My intent is not to scorn – as in “liberalism is a mental disorder” or any of that – but to ponder things coolly from the close-up vantage point of an entertainer who’s resided the same jogging distance from Sunset Strip since 1960. If I win more disdain from the liberals I dwell amongst, I expect it will be because my theory makes them uncomfortable, and attacking me as judgmental will serve them better than attacking my judgment.
The mystery of why Hollywood is so left-liberal does have a solution. Let’s ponder the obvious: Hollywood is a place where people come from near and far to devote themselves to the pursuit of conspicuous public career accomplishment. These individuals, perhaps even to their credit, do believe in themselves as exceptional, or at least believe in the exceptional worthiness of their aspirations. Each of them reflects a remarkable choice or ability to give higher priority to making it big eventually than to providing financial stability here and now.
Unless you’re a lucky heir or beneficiary of someone else’s money, to live your young adult life willing to wait tables and perform unpaid in showcases or work on music or film productions “on spec,” you must put aside the focus on financial stability that more traditional young adults practice in their family-formative years.
If you live this “on spec” lifestyle for many years, the value you place on making it big in the future must compete with any idea of family stability in the present. Duty to things like children or in-laws would distract from your needed obsessiveness with showbiz “prospecting.”
So, Hollywood ends up being home to disproportional numbers of the more self-absorbed, who lack a bit in the way of family bonds and often “have a problem with commitment” in their personal lives.
Being more narcissistic and less family-involved than most citizens is a difficult (if not much pondered) fact of life for folks in this community. As long as it remains un-cool to be a narcissist, and as long as homo sapiens remain a family-organized species, they have a problem.
Ah, but Hollywood does have its remedy: It’s long been to cultivate a standardized “I love you” posture toward any audiences, fans and peers you have, while you substitute a high-minded universal “community” consciousness for the missing family component in your personal life. This way, you provide yourself cover from seeming narcissistic or unrelated. Inherent in this remedy is (mystery solved) a political left turn.
The collective “we” so reflexively embraced in Hollywood naturally welcomes something of a nanny state. If it’s a problem to have neither the means nor the time to provide the best for your children, why not have the government do it?
Family values are more negotiable if you don’t value family a heck of a lot more than you value conspicuous public career accomplishment. So, merging the duties of individuals and families into those of politicians and governments makes easy sense.
And to favor such collective caring lets you avoid feeling yourself not a fully functional community member. You can feel like an altruist, not a narcissist.
A Hollywood so populated with citizens committed more to personal biographical accomplishment than to family turns out to be a Hollywood known for its leftish politics. This should mystify us only if we ignore the universal human need to be sure of membership in community, perhaps tribe, and above all else, family. The human animal, as the anthropologists say, is social. When its need for family gets compromised or repressed, as it does routinely in Hollywood, it comforts the human animal to get more socialistic.
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