Sunday, November 2, 2008

Elect Yourself

Hollywood loves politics. And politics loves Hollywood. In the past few weeks, many of our most famous, articulate and well-informed citizens have been out there stumping for their favorite candidates and causes. But celebrity endorsements can be a mixed blessing. Although most stars can easily express how they “feel” about a certain political candidate or issue, few are prepared to tell you exactly “why” they feel that way. Thankfully the media understands this and rarely asks any tough questions out there on the red carpet. The good news is that stars are extremely good at attracting the two things no political campaign can live without: money and unearned attention. Over the years, show business has even managed to graduate a number of elected officials including: Ronald Reagan (remember him?), Sheila Kuel (D-California), Fred Grandy (R–Kansas) and Fred Thompson (R-Tennessee). Even Clint Eastwood was Mayor of Carmel for a while and the always hilarious Al Franken is currently running for a senate seat in Minnesota.

Amazingly, three actors from the movie “Predator” have gone on to political careers: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-California), Governor Jesse Ventura (I-Minnesota) and Sonny Landham. Sonny (who prior to “Predator” had a brief career in porn) was recently running for Governor in my home state of Kentucky. That is until the Libertarian party decided to remove him from their ticket when he called for genocide against Arabs and referred to them as "Ragheads." It’s risky out there. Legendary talents like Paul Robeson and Charlie Chaplin paid dearly for their unpopular political beliefs while Jane Fonda survived relatively unscathed. I still contend that Martin Sheen should have run for the Oval Office in 2004, since at that time I think most Americans assumed he was already President.

I actually feel bad for the conservative contingent in Hollywood. There are a few big guns who go unpunished (Adam Sandler, Tom Selleck, Kelsey Grammer, etc.) but confessing to a GOP membership doesn’t make you a lot of friends out here. Conservatives always complain about how the liberal mafia controls Hollywood. I don’t know why this surprises anyone. Entertainment (and drama itself) thrives on bad behavior, questionable morals and irreverence for the status quo (three things that come pretty naturally to us Democrats). Plus, most conservative entertainment is well, usually a little dull. Director David Zucker (who is an extremely funny guy) recently gave us Hollywood’s first conservative comedy, “An American Carol” which cost twenty million dollars to make and has, so far grossed a little less than seven. Not-so-famous conservatives tend to keep a low profile. In Hollywood, admitting that you willingly attended a Republican fundraiser will make you about as popular as saying you recently enjoyed a charming minstrel show.

I’m not a huge politico, but I did spend ten years of my life sitting across the breakfast table from an iron-willed, Irish-Catholic Libertarian, so I can assure you that my views as a moderate liberal received a vigorous “vetting.” I don’t disagree with everything that conservatives stand for, but I do believe we are at an important crossroads, and I’d just like to see us aim a little higher. And speaking of aiming higher, I’d now like to talk a little about California’s Proposition 8.

As you might have already noticed, the people who are trying to convince you to vote for this wretched proposition have yet to come up with one good reason why you should do so. Lacking a viable argument, they have fueled their campaign by trying to convince California voters that (as “The Colbert Report” so brilliantly put it) “Gay people want to date your babies.” Speaking as a Gay person, I can assure that is not the case. In fact, we Gays wish all California families well. What this seemingly very angry group of people are not telling you is this: Gay Marriage doesn’t affect straight people. It doesn’t affect children. It doesn’t affect school districts. It will not harm the Catholic or the Mormon church (both of whom have put their considerable weight behind trying to pass Prop. 8). In fact, no church will ever be forced to perform Gay weddings, nor will they be stripped of their tax exempt status. Proposition 8 (which seeks to eliminate same-sex Marriage in California) is a completely unnecessary measure. If passed, it will do nothing but diminish the lives of Gay people who (if I may be frank) put up with enough shit as it is. Please Vote No on Proposition 8. And ask everyone you know to do the same.

As it is with every political season, there’s been a lot of talk lately about the future. “Vote for us and everything will be great!” “Vote for them and everything will suck!” Both sides seem to have laid claim to the keywords “hope” and “change.” Honestly, I have nothing against conservatives, but lately their message has felt wrapped in a certain nostalgia for a world that no longer exists. The word “diverse” doesn’t begin to describe the America we are living in. The last seven years have finally opened our eyes to the fact that we share this planet with a few billion other people; many of whom we don’t currently like and may never fully understand. However, if the goal is a world that’s habitable, then we will have to start sharing responsibility for its peaceful preservation. Like it or not, we seem to be entering a new era; one that might require us to unplug our iPods so we can listen. It might require us to quit rolling through stop signs and let the other guy go first. It might ask us to consider (or reconsider) what we truly value.

Yes, I know, I’m just another Hollywood liberal (and I’m not even famous, so why should you listen to me?), but I'd like to point out that elected officials (and hard-won ballot measures) will never be able to create the kind of sweeping change we keep hearing about. Only we, the governed, can do that. Today strikes me as an excellent opportunity to ask ourselves what we personally are willing to do, starting November 4th, to move our communities, our country and our world toward higher ground. As someone who writes happy endings for a living, I'd like to make a suggestion. Take something other than “hope” into the voting booth tomorrow. Take some courage. Take some generosity. Take some responsibility. And by all means, take some willingness. It’s a new day.

Copyright 2008 Quitcher-Bitchyn Entertainment, Inc.

This essay can be emailed to a friend by clicking on the small “envelope” icon below. David Dean Bottrell is an actor (“Boston Legal”) and screenwriter (“Kingdom Come”) who writes a weekly blog about being delightfully middle-class in Hollywood at


Maura S. said...

Despite living in this usually liberal state, I am genuinely concerned that Prop 8 will pass. I hope I am wrong and that we will all be swapping swell e-mails that celebrate its defeat. But my cynic's flag feels that we are outnumbered, just as we have been for the last 8 years, by ignorance and fear-based propaganda. I would love to be proven wrong.

Michelle said...

"Take something other than “hope” into the voting booth tomorrow. Take some courage. Take some generosity. Take some responsibility. And by all means, take some willingness. It’s a new day."

David, I second that emotion:)