Hollywood actors have one job: to make people as many people as possible like them. Oh, I know, the pushback is already starting. “They have a craft that they must hone, hours of training and experience! It’s not so simple, Ryfun!” And I’ll grant you that. Look, having acted before, I can tell you, it’s not as easy as it looks, and it takes a lot of time and effort to make it happen.
Very often, delivering lines that sound simple but real is a huge challenge. Heck, ask Heather Heath how many times I’ve struggled with the simple line, “I love you, Mary.” It’s not easy. But at the end of the day, no one is going to buy tickets to see your film, no one is going to buy a magazine you’re on the cover of, no one is going to tune in to watch you on TV unless they like you enough to go to the trouble.
In this day and age that’s REALLY a challenge because of all the options people have and how many of them involve making no effort whatsoever. If you want to be able to move people to seek you out, you’d better make them like you.
Which is why it’s so baffling to me that celebrities even engage participate in social media at all. The risks should be obvious from the outset: why take a chance on alienating half your audience? Well, the risks SHOULD be obvious. However, to many celebrities they don’t seem to be, which is why we see so many of them going out of their way to be ugly towards people on the internet.
I’ve said many times before that I’m not a boycotter, but at the same time, I find it difficult to give my very hard-earned money to someone who hates me. Probably not a shock to many of you, I spent decades collecting Star Wars books. Until the day when one of the authors went on an anti-Bret Kavanaugh tirade that ended with his recommendation that all Republicans should be thrown into a wood chipper. I’m not even a member of a political party, but as a conservative, I knew I was part of the group he was referencing. My collection ended that day. This guy literally wanted me to die a horrific death and at the same time wanted me to freely choose to hand him part of my income. You can see how easy the choice became.
Recently, a number of celebrities decided to speak out against the recent voting bill in Georgia. These are people who, since they can read a 120-page movie script, would be able to take the time to read a 38-page bill, especially if they’re going to base major career decisions on said bill.
Writer-director James Mangold went on social media and said he wasn’t going to film anything in Georgia, but since his next big project is the new Indiana Jones movie, did we really think that was coming to Georgia? Mark Hamill tweeted his concurrence with Mangold’s decision. Thank goodness for Hamill’s career that he’s primarily a voice actor these days and won’t need to set foot in Georgia either.
Then came the coup de grace. Will Smith and Antoine Fuqua decided to announce that they were pulling their new film production out of Georgia. Now, for the dirty little secret: it wasn’t their choice. An Atlanta film source says that during a typical summer, 40-50 productions in Georgia is a large number. This summer? There are 70 productions! There aren’t enough resources in Georgia for their film! Their demonstration of solidarity with the “oppressed” was nothing of the sort. It was the reality of the industry in a state that doesn’t seem to actually be losing business due to their recent legislative moves.
But why do this at all? Why make the big announcement? Why take a giant stand over something that is likely to offend at least 75 million customers?
I once told another of these Star Wars authors that I appreciated how he kept the contemporary politics out of his work. His response to me was, “Why alienate half your audience?” Why, indeed. Furthermore, why tell half of a large state that you want them to fail, that you want their economy to suffer, that in the name of protecting minorities you want to kill minority-owned businesses and take away job opportunities from minorities, many of those in your own career field? How does that motivate people to want to give you the money they work so hard to obtain? And especially when the threats they’re making are so demonstrably empty.
Cruelty can be expressed quite casually on social media these days, but for the people whose livelihoods depend on their being liked by as many people as possible, they should have the self-discipline to stay far, far away from it.