Monday, April 7, 2008

Hollywood Ignorance

Does ignorance plague Hollywood? It would seem that when it comes to politics and foreign affairs, it's either ignorance or insanity.

Thor Halvorssen has an interesting article ( available here ) that discusses some Hollywood icons' seemingly insane love affair with Hugo Chavez. Of particular curiosity is the alleged reasoning of actor Sean Penn. Halvorssen writes:

"I assumed Penn was probably ignorant about the human rights record in Venezuela in that he broke off relations with the San Francisco Chronicle in mid-January calling them a "lamebrain paper" over their use of the word "dictator" to describe Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. "

Dictator seems to be an apt word, given Chavez's tactics, including the forceful subduing of any who speak against his socialist mantras. When questioned about his blind support of Chavez, Penn reacted in true Hollywood fasion:

"On Oscar night Penn and I [Halvorssen] had an unpleasant exchange about the political prisoners of the Chavez government which he ended by walking away and repeating, like a mantra, the name of one of the evening’s Academy Award recipients, “Daniel Day-Lewis,” over and over again in what seemed like the equivalent of a child putting his hands over his ears and belting “la-la-la-la-la-la! I can’t hear you!” Undaunted, I scribbled a note inviting him to learn more about the appalling stories of Venezuelan dissidents in prison for doing nothing but criticizing the government. The invitation is still open."

While Penn isn't the only curiously misguided person in Hollywood, he does seem to be the most entertaining, and I'm not talking about his movie performances. What makes Hollywood such a bastion of cluelessness? I believe that it's mostly due to the fantasy lives that most actors, actresses, and successful directors live. Many of the Hollywood elite are raised as wealthy, or at least very well off, children, and grew up in households that than conservative (think 1960's era, and southern California). Upon making their own way in Hollywood, they became grossly wealthy by continuously playing fictional roles (aka: lying). I suspect that many of them have merely lost touch with reality. They've grown incredibly rich, while, in most cases, remaining mostly uneducated and ignorant in regards to politics and foreign affairs.

It's absurd to assume that actors and actresses, who have spent the majority of their adult lives submersed in the fantasy world of Hollywood, could have much to offer in terms of astute political commentary. Of course, this is not completely true, but seems to be more of the norm than an exception.

Sean Penn, you need to turn up the voltage on those shock treatments buddy; they're not working.

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