Hollywood Actors or Activists? Futile Appeals to False Authority

What is it these days, that every person in the entertainment industry feels like they need to put their two cents on every issue not pertaining to their profession? When did it become acceptable to just let them prattle around about the topics they know nothing about on the basis of their face recognition? And why does it seem that half of those clowns are more bent on activism than acting these days?

Ponder this for a moment: When your car breaks down you won’t listen to what an actor playing a mechanic has to say on the matter, you’ll take the car to the real mechanic. So why is it that it somehow matters what a certain actor has to say about climate change or immigration?

In advertising at least it makes a certain degree of sense (we will leave the ever crazier ideas out of this analysis). When you see an athlete in a commercial for sports shoes, you trust his choice because you know they he is a great athlete. We need to say that you could mistrust him wearing those sports shoes for whatever reason, but in the end, the mind will still make the logical connection between the athlete, and the product he is advertising.

Same thing happens in all those commercials about the laundry detergent showcasing a mom who has to deal with the most obstinate of stains on clothing. We can connect the dots because we all have mothers in our lives who had to deal with such stains when we were little, if we don’t have to deal with them ourselves. So once again, our brain makes the logical leap, that since a mother is recommending the product it makes sense.

The same thing happens when we see some random Hollywood actress in a makeup commercial telling us how she feels forever young with the new eyeliner or who knows what. We know that she’s old as Earth, and probably looks like a patch of dirt road under all that makeup, but still our brain is able to make the necessary logical leap for us to accept that it makes sense for her to promote the new makeup.

All these commercials have something in common. A person that is connected to the product they are advertising. They are appealing to authority, but an authority that makes sense. That is why we trust the mechanic around our car, the lawyer when it comes to law, and the doctor when it comes to our health. Now can you imagine seeing Meryl Streep in a commercial promoting sports gear? It doesn’t work because our brain sees her as an actress who looks down on sports as inferior to acting. So by extension, we are distrustful of her recommendation, because unbeknownst to us, our brain already branded her a liar.

It used to be that what you knew of a certain actor or actress, was only of what you remembered of them from some past film. That played to their great advantage on the silver screen, and to the watcher’s own enjoyment of the film at hand. Actors were just actors, and thus when the cinemagoers saw them as crooks, cowboys, kings, beggars, or brokers–they could let themselves get immersed without thinking of anything else but the film, and the role that actor was playing.

Nowadays, you cannot go and see a film without asking yourself “What have I heard about [insert actor’s name] stance on immigration or legalization of drugs?” Actors are so outspoken about everything, that instead of being able to get the level of immersion required to enjoy the film, you end up thinking of all this baggage most of those outspoken clowns bring with them to the silver screen. Maybe it’s not stated anywhere in the film, but in the back of your head, you still know it exists.

A thought from a miniseries The Young Pope created by Paolo Sorrentino comes to mind. In the second episode, the pope makes a profound statement in regards to building his own public persona: “Now do you know what it is, what the invisible red thread is that connects them all, all these most important figures in their respective fields?” he asks after listing a number of most prominent personalities of our time. “None of them let themselves be seen. None of them let themselves be photographed.” And that is what makes them great. The air of mystery surrounding them, and the ability to focus on their work 100%.

It is not that I would like to prevent these clowns and court jesters from expressing their own opinions, far from it. They are welcome to it. But the numbers speak for themselves. Attendance in cinemas is in decline. Some of it can be blamed on the studios, and their incessant drive for pointless remakes, and even worse films made by quotas. Some of it can be blamed on dwindling relevance of cinemas in this day and age. But I am willing to wager, that opinionated film stars carry the brunt of it.

The acting class in their ivory towers got it in their heads, that plebs like to watch them speak out as much as to see them act. It might make their colleagues applaud in approval, but it only adds dead weight in the eyes of the viewers.  It’s time to nip their wings, and whisper into their ears memento mori, and let them fall into oblivion.

Let us see if the 89th Academy Awards will be their swan song or just another screed on the account of the ignorant masses.

By: Ivan Šokić

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