Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Hollywood Celebrities Are Liberal/Democratic For a Good Reason

One thing that surely frustrates Republican leadership is the overwhelmingly Democratic stronghold of Hollywood. Having America's most high profile public figures in the blue corner definitely helps Democrats. During President Obama's reelection campaign, he solicited funds from high profile Hollywood fundraising events multiple times. And yet, the Republicans know they can't hope to win over Hollywood's actors and actresses because of the nature of the business that they work in. It compels them to become Democrats.

The business model of the entertainment industry is pretty simple. Get as many eyeballs on your product as possible. Because of that, the people being eyeballed, the actors, gets a grossly disproportionate amount of money. After that is the director. And then after all other costs are accounted for, the producers get to take home the profits.

It takes thousands of people and hundreds of millions of dollars to make and market a big budget Hollywood blockbuster. And in big budget blockbusters, you almost always pay money for a bona fide movie star. That fee is going to be around 15-20 million dollars. After that, you have the director, screenwriter, and IP owner. Expect to depart with another 20-50 million dollars. The secondary actors' and extras' pay taper off dramatically. And GFX and SFX studios (who are famously overworked and working with some of the most razor thin margins available) do their thing for peanuts.

Think about what goes through the mind of a celebrity actor when they see their paycheck. They get paid tens of millions of dollars to work 80 hours a week for 3-4 months. If you were Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man 3, you got paid 50 million dollars for about 1200 hours on the clock. That works out to about 42,000 dollars an hour, which is more than 12 dollars per second. Think about how absolutely insane that is for an individual to process.

The reason why actor's salaries are so high is because their brands are extremely valuable. At this point, it would be absurd for Marvel Studios to consider replacing Robert Downey Jr. with somebody else. People have come to expect his face and his voice in the role. Controversy and bad press would overwhelm the studio and cost them potentially hundreds of millions of dollars. And Downey Jr's agent knows that, which is why they were able to extract such a high fee from the producers.

If you're Robert Downey Jr, you'll come to the realization that it's not your acting that's worth 50 million dollars. Your brand is worth that much. And your brand is worth that much because you were able to leverage the labor and capital of tens of thousands of people. Everybody involved in the production is working to make you look good to tens of millions of people. That's how your brand got built.

And for handsome would-be leading men and beautiful would-be leading ladies who know how to read and recite words on a page, all they want is their big break. Getting casted in a role means that they get to leverage all that labor and capital. And the casting process couldn't be less related to our traditional ideals of merit.

Getting casted means you have the right look, a certain charisma, and a willingness to subject yourself to the whims of demanding and entitled producers and directors. All that boils down to is being the right kind of physically attractive and well spoken. The latter can be taught to anybody. The former is a combination of genetics, current societal preference (zeitgeist), and a willingness to exercise and stick to a certain diet.

So basically, it has everything to due with luck. That's what these actors and actresses are counting on to get casted. Sure, they'll try and tip the scales in their favor any way they can, but it really all depends on luck. Luck determines the next celebrity in America. Think of Disney and its celebrity manufacturing process. They get these photogenic, bright faced kids like Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus, the Jonas Brothers, put them in a TV show, dress them up like pseudo-adults and put them in fantasy situations and suddenly they're the biggest thing. It doesn't matter how good they are at acting. They all suck. It just matters that they got casted because they're good looking and are literate.

Think of the effect that has on the Hollywood psyche. Actors and actresses know, deep down, that they owe their success entirely to outside factors. Celebrities realize this, deep down in places they don't talk about at parties. Because of it, they always carry a subconscious guilt over their wealth and fame.

That guilt is what allows then to be the champions of the Democratic Party. Higher taxes are fine with them because, hey, it's not like they actually earned the money. As long as it doesn't reach some absurdly punitive rate, they're fine with higher taxes on the rich. And it's also why they're so focused on social causes. They're suckers for situations where there's a group of people down on their luck, because they've also been in that same situation. They remember the waiting jobs (one of the more demeaning forms of work in the modern labor market) they had to take to support themselves before they got their big break.

Think of what the Democratic Party and what it stands for, and then think about how celebrities became celebrities. Is there any wonder why they are such staunch supporters of that political party?

1 comment:

  1. I think you are right, but I think there is more to to it than that. Everything the democratic party stands for "looks" good. Republicans seem mean and intolerant. They have been painted as people that don't care about the poor, minorities, women, homosexuals, the earth etc. And in Hollywood, image is EVERYTHING. And all the democratic positions are meant to sound appealing on the surface. So in Hollywood it is way smarter to be a democrat. That way you can appear to be a crusader for the underprivileged and oppressed. You can seem to be very generous with your money and open and tolerant towards all lifestyles. And if you seem like a great person, people will continue buying into your brand.