The 2016 Presidential Race Has Been Especially Nasty—and Hollywood Is Feeling the Burns

Donald Trump isn't the only one raising eyebrows with his comments, either

By Judy Kurtz Mar 01, 2016 11:00 AMTags
Hillary Clinton, Tim Allen, Donald TrumpGetty Images

Pop & Politics contributor Judy Kurtz is the "In the Know" columnist for The Hill

Donald Trump isn't the only one who's needed bleeping during the 2016 presidential race.

Primary season has prompted some crude broadsides from celebrities that, this year anyway, have matched the unusually coarse tone of the some of the candidates.

While some stars are known for being quite image-conscious, the likes of Tim Allen, Mickey Rourke and Cher are using their celebrity to bash some of the leading White House hopefuls.

Allen, one of Hollywood's most prominent Republicans, hasn't been shy about his disdain for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, even going so far as to compare the couple to a sexually transmitted disease.

Hollywood publicist and branding expert Michael Levine—who's worked with countless celebs over the years — says stars such as Allen do not necessarily have to worry about turning fans off by speaking out.

''I think it depends on the career brand [public figures have] established for themselves," Levine tells E! News. "We would perceive a woman on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills differently than a bestselling author. I think that depending on the celebrity's brand, it can help, hurt, or have no impact."

Allen, of course, is a best-selling author, his Don't Stand Too Close to a Naked Man having topped the New York Times list in 1994, but it's unlikely he's alienating his fan base with political commentary by now.

Rourke didn't exactly mince words last year when the topic of Trump's candidacy came up, either. "I'd rather stick a .38 up my ass and pull the trigger than vote for Donald Trump," the Oscar-nominated star of The Wrestler told TMZ last July (in response to a question that wasn't even about Trump). And when the site caught up with him again in September, Rourke declared, "Tell Donald Trump to go f--k himself, he's nothing but a big-mouthed bitch bully."

Although some celebrities are using rough language to get their political opinions across, the biting is less striking in an election year that's been filled with F-bombs actually launched into the microphone and other eyebrow-raising comments uttered by the candidates themselves. 

"And you can tell them to go f--k themselves," Trump, referring to companies that shift operations abroad for more favorable tax rates, said at a rally in New Hampshire last month. Before exiting the GOP presidential field, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said calls to ramp up government surveillance were "bulls--t." And while talking about Hillary Clinton's 2008 Democratic primary loss, Trump said in December, "She was going to beat Obama… She was favored to win—and she got schlonged. She lost."

Trump vowed last month to never "use foul language" again on the campaign trail, even going so far as to criticize former Mexican President Vicente Fox for saying that his country would never pay for ''that f--king wall'' that Trump has promised to build on the border.

"FMR PRES of Mexico, Vicente Fox horribly used the F word when discussing the wall. He must apologize! If I did that there would be a uproar!" Trump tweeted Feb. 25.

Cher is another star who's been less than subtle in her digs against the former Celebrity Apprentice host. The singer tweeted last year that if Trump "can't come up with a hairstyle that looks human, how can he come up with a plan to defeat ISIS." In another tweet last summer the iconic singer-artist dubbed Trump "an arrogant a--hole" with "an ego the size of Texas."

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Levine says he's unsure if stars are choosing to be more vocal about their politics these days, or if the outspokenness is more a product of the times in which "everyone has a comment on everything, 24 hours a day."

Former Law & Order: SVU star Christopher Meloni says he doesn't necessarily agree that celebrities are being more vocal this election than in past presidential showdowns. But the Washington, D.C., native says if that's the case, entertainers could have good reason.

Rich Polk/Getty Images for St. John

"Maybe they've been affected by the vitriol that is in the air," Meloni tells E! News. The actor says the "right side" has shown an "endless, obstructionist attitude. It feels that's been their strategy."

Nathan Darrow, who plays Secret Service agent Edward Meechum on House of Cards, says he "doesn't have a political party" of his own. But when he contemplates a President Trump in the Oval Office, he's "concerned about the leader of the United States wanting to 'Make America great again,' and then on the other side, the leader of Russia wanting to restore the strength of the Russian empire."


When asked if he thinks Hollywood is being more frank about politics in 2016, Darrow replied with a surprised look, "Oh, right! Did I just get rid of a bunch of fans…if I had them?"

"It seems like notoriety per se is a currency," media guru Levine concludes. "Just saying anything—whether it's dumb or not, or based in fact. And that, I think, is in part because people are so distracted that they can't quite remember what's being said, just that they heard 'something.'"

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