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When Did Jesse Helms Move to Hollywood?

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I’m confused. Or maybe I’m just a bumpkin. But I thought Hollywood was liberal.

The Kerry-Edwards ticket defeated Bush-Cheney in the state of California by more than 1.2 million votes. Presumably, much of that came from Los Angeles and Hollywood. British media outlet The Guardian reported that more than 1,500 Hollywood residents “from all walks of life” paid about $3,000 to attend a fundraiser for the Kerry campaign during the 2004 election. About a month after that Hollywood fundraiser, USA Today reported on another event where “nearly 1,500 stars and executives from movies, TV and music” paid one to two grand to mingle with the Democratic candidate. The guest list at that event included Barbra Streisand, Warren Beatty, Ben Affleck, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Steven Spielberg. 

“In keeping with its staunch support of same-sex unions and in order to move forward with the recognition of same sex marriages,” the City Council from West Hollywood directed its attorney to see what legal measures were needed to protect same-sex marriages. That same City Council also “passed a resolution supporting San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom for his actions on behalf of equal rights for same-sex couples.” In its entry for “gay friendly,” Wikipedia pointed out that George Clooney, David Duchovny, and Ben Affleck “support gay marriage and have fought for higher profile gay characters in Hollywood.” There are dozens of more examples.

But Annie Proulx, a damn fine writer, wants us to believe that Brokeback Mountain didn’t win the Academy Award for Best Picture because the voters were too conservative. Ms. Proulx writes in Blood on the Red Carpet that “we should have known conservative heffalump academy voters would have rather different ideas of what was stirring contemporary culture. Roughly 6,000 film industry voters, most in the Los Angeles area, many living cloistered lives behind wrought-iron gates or in deluxe rest-homes, out of touch not only with the shifting larger culture and the yeasty ferment that is America these days, but also out of touch with their own segregated city, decide which films are good.”

Huh? I can understand the complaints about Crash taking home the Oscar. I get that. But alleging that Hollywood movie people are too conservative? A friend from Kentucky who works in Hollywood was damn near driven out of town by angry mobs after George W. Bush won the election. And Best Supporting Actor George Clooney doesn’t think Hollywood is too conservative. During his acceptance speech, he bragged about being “the ones who were talking about AIDS when it was just being whispered, and we talked about civil rights when it wasn’t really popular … I’m proud to be a part of this academy, proud to be a part of this community and proud to be out of touch,” he said.

So Clooney, a true Hollywood insider, thinks the community is just liberal enough while Proulx, a writer who lives in Wyoming and Vermont, thinks it’s too conservative.

I don’t get it. But I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. After all, there are Republicans who believe Bush is too liberal. All of which just makes my head spin.