Just recently a celebrity and movie star stood up at one of the endless parade of award shows where actors give them selves pats on the back and get to dress up and stand in front of cameras. The actor used the stage to make a one word commentary on the President of the United States twice and to which there was a paroxysm of applause and laughter. Thankfully it was just a one word commentary and we were not forced to hear a cascade of leftist talking points and nonsensical drivel from someone who can barely talk unless reading from a script. Now there are news reports that a major political party has the bright idea that they need to go to Hollywood to “help them with their messaging”. For those of us that always thought that is where they get their messaging in the first place, this was an interesting thought provoker.
The idea of celebrities climbing on the public stage to state their views has been going on since the beginning of the Republic. The founders were not always happy with the press because at that time owners of and writers of newspapers were also celebrities. “I deplore… the putrid state into which our newspapers have passed and the malignity, the vulgarity, and mendacious spirit of those who write for them… These ordures are rapidly depraving the public taste and lessening its relish for sound food. As vehicles of information and a curb on our funtionaries, they have rendered themselves useless by forfeiting all title to belief… This has, in a great degree, been produced by the violence and malignity of party spirit.” wrote Thomas Jefferson to Walter Jones. Perhaps the most malign political commentary of a celebrity, an actor, was that of John Wilkes Booth.
I have read Conrad Black’s biography of FDR, “Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Champion of Freedom” (Public Affairs, New York, 2003) Black describes Charles Lindberg the aviator hero who became an instant celebrity, touring the country and attacking Roosevelt and spewing forth Nazi propaganda as, “a malignant prototype of the opinionated celebrity, a type that would become increasingly familiar in American life: entertainers or sports personalities or cultural figures trying to translate their talent or celebrity in their own fields into positions of political influence, more often than not for the
propagation of sophomoric, fatuous, or even seditious views.”
My thought today is that Lindberg at least made speeches that as racist and skewed and they may have been, at least made some kind of sense as syntax at least. His speeches, as strange as they were with most of the world under siege by fascists, at least had a beginning a middle and an end. Our celebrities today seem incapable of anything more than kneeling at the anthem, filthy ad hominem attacks, and one word diatribes repeated ad nauseum.
This stuff has been going on since politics was invented. Just because it is old does not make it less odious.
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