There is a story – perhaps apocryphal – that many years ago basketball legend Michael Jordan was asked why he didn’t speak out on the various political issues of the day. His reported response: “Republicans buy shoes, too.”
Once upon a time, that was a pretty common sentiment. Entertainment was for the masses, and while Hollywood was always a sink of immorality and corruption, its leaders worked hard to hide it from public view.
Similarly, celebrities have always had personal opinions about all sorts of things, but it’s only in the Social Media Age that they feel compelled to share their insights on absolutely everything.
Back in the day, entertainers were often discovered by chance. Many came from very humble origins and were therefore acutely aware that their huge paycheck had absolutely nothing to do their political insights. They were rich because they could play an instrument, sing, dance, or lie convincingly in front of a camera.
Alas, the growth of celebrity culture has convinced these savants that everyone who buys a ticket to their space fantasy or superhero movie is dying to receive their life lessons. This is particularly rich given that fact that most of them are drug-addled failures at life.
I must admit that one of my guilty pleasures is reading fawning tabloid-style articles about these airheads – not because I care about them (or even know who they are) – but because I enjoy the rhetorical contortions the publicists have to go through in order to hide their awfulness.
Your Hatred Has Made You Stupid
All of this brings us to the latest example of Hollywood stupidity. For those who haven’t heard, one of the president’s grandkids dressed up as a New Order Stormtrooper, and his mother used a well-known quote from one of the original (that is, non-crappy) Star Wars films in her tweet.
Mark Hamill was outraged, which is strange. Given the guy has so little to brag about in his stunted film career, one might think he would welcome a new generation embracing his life’s work – particularly if they don’t necessarily agree with him politically.
Perhaps this shared appreciation of art might lead to greater understanding.
I’m old enough to remember when music and culture were things to bring people together. Songs, films, books – there was a whole genre about how people could set aside differences and get along.
I mean, if nothing, else, we could always buy the world a Coke, right?
That world is gone now. There are clearly a bunch of celebrities who not only hate the public, they hate their money as well. Hamill seems determined to taint the only decent portion of the Star Wars catalog by going full Dixie Chicks* on its remaining fans.
Never go full Dixie Chicks.
The whole point of fandom is that it brings people who otherwise have nothing in common together for a common interest. The proper response to someone who you may disagree with on other matters is to welcome them and use the shared interest as a way to bring people back together.
Keeping politics in the forefront also denies us the welcome oblivion of escape from our burdens in life. We all need a break from time to time, an escape from taxes, school, jobs, and a moment to instead obsess about the events taking place A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far, Far Away.
On the plus side, most people regard Hamill as a curiosity, someone who lurks in the “Oh, is he still alive?” continuum of celebrity. But he also holds a significant place in how fandom grew and others look to his example. He needs to set aside his anger and let go of his hatred. He has a chance to be a powerful force for good, not just for Star Wars, but for fandom as a whole.
*If you don’t know who they are, my point is made.