Syria: Oh Hollywood, Wherefore Art Thou?

The silence of the sheep? As we teeter on the brink of bombing Syria, there is a huge void, a vast emptiness, a vacuum. We have no hot air, no rousing speeches nor paparazzi photo ops. Celebrities are curiously absent from the “Bomb/Don’t Bomb Syria” dialogue.

Recall, if you will the anti-war rallies of the Aughts and Nineties. Who was there rallying for peace, calling for an end to war?  George Clooney, Sheryl Crow, Danny Glover, Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, Martin Sheen…And where are they now? (Sean Penn gets a pass from me–Haiti)

Granted most of the anti-war celebs campaigned hard for Obama and other Democrats (as did many readers of Firedoglake). But so what? If your elected officials, even the ones you supported morally and financially, are acting in a fool-hardy manner, freakin’ call them out on it. That’s what democracy is about, that’s what free speech is for. And the Syrian situation is complex (Did he or didn’t he gas his citizens? Is this a false flag? Are the rebels better than Assad? WTF are we doing and why?), but still how about: NO!

Earlier this year, ABC News speculated that celebrities’ anti-war stances in the past could have bearing on their future earnings:

[a]nti-war celebrities, including Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon, have been labeled “unpatriotic,” or “un-American.”

The Dixie Chicks, for example, won several Grammys this year, but their criticism of President Bush still has radio listeners calling for stations to quit playing their music, and many stations have.

Columnist Richard Johnson of the New York Post headlined more than a dozen entertainers as “Saddam Lovers” and urged readers to boycott their work.

Worried about their own bottom line when the world could be plunged into war? How venal.

But in the Hollywood Reporter, Ed Asner and Mike Farrell offer up some other explanations:

Asner said the lack of an organized effort against war in Syria is a matter of timing. Bush took months to make the case for war in Iraq, giving the antiwar left plenty of time to prepare a response.

“It will be a done deal before Hollywood is mobilized,” Asner said. “This country will either bomb the hell out of Syria or not before Hollywood gets off its ass.”

Really? Um, actors have social media and assistants. Surely they can get this figured out.

Also, said Asner, unsuccessful efforts to prevent war in Iraq led to complacency among left-wing activists.

“We had a million people in the streets, for Christ’s sake, protesting Iraq, which was about as illegal as you could find. Did it matter? Is George Bush being tried in the high courts of justice?” asks Asner. “

Ennui? Hollywood, along with liberals and progressives, are bored by the idea of another war?

Asner adds another more disturbing explanation:

A lot of people don’t want to feel anti-black by being opposed to Obama.

Wow. Is that a real reason? That is the dumbest reason to stand silent on a war/bombing/action/strike ever. The race of the president doesn’t matter when it comes to war. Actually, and maybe I am naive here, it’s more racist to think  you can’t speak up because the president is black. Who cares what race he is? He’s doing something dangerous and bad. Call him on it.

Mike Farrell says:

This administration ought to insist that the international community charge [Assad] with a war crime and prosecute him, and in so doing Obama would be following the law instead of flaunting the law…It’s incredibly improper for the president to call for a strike. I have said it everywhere I can and I suspect a lot of others will do the same, but whether there will be an organized effort, I don’t know. We’re talking about the difference between an invasion in Iraq and a limited action in response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

And we’re talking about opposing a military action called by a Democratic president. So what? Protest!

Both Republican Representative Ted Cruz and Democrat Dennis Kucinich oppose taking action against Syria. If these two dudes on opposite ends of the political spectrum can find something to agree on–staying out of Syria– maybe Obama, Pelosi, Kerry, and McCain should pay attention.

In the meantime, according to Gallup, 51% of Americans oppose the United States taking military action against the Syrian government. Support for action in Syria is lower than for any military action, including the Balkans, since 1991.  Something politicians may want to remember, since mid-term elections are coming in 2014.


THE GOOD OLD DAYS: Obama at anti-war rally

“Julian Assange, Superstar” aka “WikiLeaks, The Musical”

If Hollywood has its way and the check clears, Julian Assange, the international man of mystery currently enjoying Ecuadorian hospitality whilst planning his birthday party inside that country’s embassy, will be the subject of a biopic fraught with cyber espionage and condomless sex. According to the Wall Street Journal, HBO Films, DreamWorks Studios, Universal Pictures and Annapurna Pictures are all frothing and panting to bring Assange’s story to a megaplex or cable box near you.

There are a lot of loose ends though–not the least of which being who would play the pale and lanky leader of WikiLeaks; Tim Robbins, even though he’s a bit older than Assange, possesses plenty of boyish charm and height–dangling plots points like Bradley Manning who is in prison and on trial; what happens with the Syrians cables; Assange’s potential extradition to Sweden…

Here’s a solution: A musical! As Spiderman Turn Off the Dark proves, stage plays are constantly evolving. As the Assange/WikiLeaks story unfolds, the libretto could be adjusted; and it’s a sure Tony Award winner, and once things are resolved in real life, the film would be ready to go. Along with Assange’s all singing, all dancing  grandstanding and honeypot sampling, Bradley Manning’s character would be onstage throughout as the tragic counterpoint and moral compass, first at a computer screen, then behind bars, always present, a contrast to Assange’s hubris.

Plus there would have to be a Greek chorus of Anonymous in EFG masks performing catchy numbers like “Low Orbit Ion Cannon,”  and “DDoS Us All” while Loooong Cat and Nyan Cat dance. It’s all a hummable, teachable-moment multi-media extravaganza! And Neil Patrick Harris would be SUPER in the starring role! Or maybe Zac Efron. Think Clay Aiken for the touring company.

If any Broadway producers are interested, you know where to find me…

The EFG Greek/geek chorus can get serious at times, while Manning’s character is the musical’s moral compass.


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