Hollywood heroes have the right to political commentary; we have the right to disagree

February 6, 2017 — by Frederick Kim and Ryan Kim

Actors should be able to speak their political views

Academy Award-winning actress Meryl Streep slowly stepped up to the stage during the Golden Globe Awards ceremony on Jan. 8, her voice cracking as she thanked everyone for their warm welcome. She looked out at the audience of famous Hollywood stars began a speech that lamented the state of the United States as president-elect Donald J. Trump prepared for Inauguration Day on Jan 20.

Streep immediately received flak for her attack on Trump. Among other things, she had criticized Trump for his derogatory imitation of a disabled news reporter during his campaign. On Twitter, Trump called her an “overrated” actress who was attacking someone she didn’t know well enough. Fellow Hollywood actors, however, stood by Streep’s speech, defending her right to express her opinion.

This is nothing new. Hollywood has a history of expressing its political views. For instance, Vanessa Redgrave expressed her fears about fascism and Zionists in 1978, Marlon Brando boycotted his Best Actor Academy Award in 1973 to show solidarity with Native Americans and Clint Eastwood used his iconic status to try and sway the people to support Mitt Romney in 2012.

Others aren’t so sure political advocacy is a smart for the industry. Ben Stein has complained that Hollywood’s Left-leaning values make alienate it from conservatives in the country.

“Think of the most thuggish bullies from ‘West Side Story’ and you’ve got [Hollywood],” Stein said on Fox News. “They are a united, blacklisting front that will go against anyone that they think is politically undesirable.”

Likewise, Nicole Kidman said of Trump in an interview with BBC News mid-January: "He's now elected, and we as a country need to support whoever is the president because that is what the country is based on.”

Nevertheless, Hollywood actors, like all other Americans, do have a right to voice their own opinions, and they should not be shunned or browbeaten by politicians for expressing their ideas. Political commentary is as American as apple pie or baseball; it is only truly harmful when ignorant but powerful individuals perpetuate false information.

But that does not mean that Americans should automatically accept Hollywood actors’ opinions as gospel. We should not blindly embrace the opinions of Hollywood stars solely because we like their work, and instead, we have to do our own research and make our own judgments about their views.