Just saw a new video with Olivia Wilde urging people to vote progressive, and it got me to thinking: Why is Hollywood so darned liberal?
—Brenda, San Antonio, via the inbox
You speak of the MoveOn.org video featuring Wilde as a hard-bitten activist from the future who berates you—you specifically, thanks to some Facebook-aided personalization—for not voting in the upcoming election.
It's certainly not the kind of message you'd see from, say, Elisabeth Hasselbeck. Here's why:
Indeed, Wilde and Romany Malco, he of The 40-Year-Old-Virgin, jokingly warn that without your vote, President Palin will, among other things, declare an "ultrawar" against the Pacific Ocean and "whatever country Björk is from."
Now, I talked to Ed Rampell, author of Progressive Hollywood, about this. Rampell offers three very interesting reasons why the entertainment business is so full of non-Republicans.
"Creative people in general, but in particular actors, rely upon empathy as a tool of their trade," Rampell explains.
"Their ability to empathize with others, to put themselves in another person's shoes, is very essential to being an actor, and this empathy leads for many of them to have a broader compassion with humanity in general and in particular with the underdog, with the oppressed."
"At any given time, about 90 percent of the Screen Actors Guild is unemployed."
Yep. That's right. Milla Jovovich may have something like eight or 10 pictures in the works, but she's the exception, not the rule.
"People in the creative professions can easily identify with the economic plight of people dealing with unemployment and so on," Rampell says.
And there's a third element, most clearly illustrated in the example of Sean Penn.
"Penn's father was Leo Penn. He was blacklisted during the McCarthy Era," Rampell says. "If you grow up in a family that has a social justice tradition where politics are more apt to be discussed around the dinner table rather than sports, that will affect the children as they grow up."
Of course there are plenty of Hollywood Republicans, Hasselbeck and Angie Harmon among them. But at least this explains why there aren't more of them.
Now check out that Olivia Wilde video: