Monday, November 12, 2007

Celebrities vs. Pundits vs. Journalists

I am cleaning up my hard-drive and I saw an old clip (at least June 2006) of a Charlie Rose interview with George Clooney. Rose spoke about how Clooney challenged Bill O'Reilly to a debate. It's a weird combination of talking heads and it reminds me of a standard Right-Wing talking point: that celebrities have no right and/or no place to be commenting on political matters.

Why should anybody care about what Jane Fonda, Robert Redford, Susan Sarandon, Al Franken, Rosie O'Donnell, or George Clooney have to say about politics.

On one side, I agree. I think actors are, for the most part, vain and stupid. The job requires vanity as part of it's skill set and there's no reason to believe an actor is any more intelligent than a person engaged in any other type of physical profession. I don't think athletes are presumed to be intelligent, and acting is just another form of athletics.

Comedians are generally pretty intelligent (it's a brutal business), so maybe they should be able to offer their political views. But then the second aspect of the Right Wing Point is: these people are famous for making people laugh, what expertise, experience, training, or skills do they have that would allow them to offer political positions?

Here's where I differ from my Right Wing brethren. Cuz, uh, what expertise does any specific journalist have that would allow them to offer *their* opinions about politics. When a journalist does actual journalism - ya know, find out facts and report them accurately - then I will give them credit for being a specific and separate profession. [This is holding aside the fact that journalists, by and large, seem to be unintelligent, conceited, and as a group not very good at what they are supposed to be doing; exhibit A: the lead up to Operation Iraqi SNAFU]

But what in the world is the difference between a pundit - a talking head who offers his/her opinions about politics - and an actor? Opinions are opinions. And when you recognize that the 'pundits' are themselves in the entertainment business, then you realize that the reason why the Right Wingers don't like celebrities talking about politics is because the real celebrities (e.g. Clooney) are more believeable and convincing than the Right Wing celebrities (e.g. O'Reilly, Hannity, Coulter).

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