George Clooney said that Donald Trump is a part of the Hollywood elite he has regularly criticized. Clooney claimed that Trump benefits from his membership of the Screen Actors Guild pension scheme and makes $120,000 from it annually.
Trump has made multiple appearances on the small and big screen from his film cameos in Home Alone 2, to appearances on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and his most well known role as himself on the Apprentice. His work on the Apprentice and the Celebrity Apprentice reportedly earned Trump $213.6m over 11 years, and along with his other work made him eligible for a pension from SAG.
Clooney also said that Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon is a failed film writer and director: “That’s the truth... He wrote a Shakespearean rap musical about the LA riots that he couldn’t get made. He made a lot of money off of Seinfeld. He’s elitist Hollywood.” Bannon, an openly anti-Semitic person, still receives royalties from Seinfeld? Ironic isn't it? But it's true.
So, Hollywood hates Trump and Bannon even more. In return the two most powerful men in the country hate the Hollywood elite. The war is public.
The assembled film-makers stamped, cheered and tweeted, a surge of star-studded liberal solidarity uniting the likes of Clooney, Meryl Streep, Ben Affleck, Julianne Moore, Robert De Niro and so on. Hollywood’s cultural avatars going up against a president with the nuclear codes and a Republican Congress. It would make a great movie, wouldn't it?
But, Hollywood’s enmity may not transfer to the screen. Industry figures may march in protests, fulminate in speeches but they will not transfer this into films and television shows. The fact is that it is more about box office returns than their political convictions. The industry as a whole will not counter right-wing populism from Washington.
Hollywood is still dominated by white men who like to make films and shows built around other white men, fictional and real, who slash, shoot and zap other characters in the hope, ultimately, of putting butts in seats. Waging a cultural crusade against the White House is simply not in the job description.
In the end studios look at the bottom line: making money! Explicit political partisanship seldom works well on screen. Hollywood is most successful when it conveys the American dream and the struggles to realize it. The industry loves stories about people who succeed against the odds, no matter what their background, because the audience loves those stories. If there were big money to be made in films that celebrate home schooling, semi-automatic rifle ownership, the bullying of gays, white supremacy, misogyny or xenophobia, Hollywood would be racing to make them.
The Oscars will crackle with more denunciations, which will in turn provoke reactions from the President and his supporters. It will be a collision of art, celebrity and politics that is sure to entertain. And that is what it’s all about, entertainment!
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