Hollywood is reeling after the election of Donald Trump. Miley Cyrus cried when the results came in, Lena Dunham is in shock, and liberal Mark Ruffalo, who promised to get naked in his next film if a lot of people voted, has not disrobed. Sharon Waxman, writing in The Wrap, put it well: “In the age of social media and direct connection to fans—Taylor Swift got hundreds of responses to tweeting herself at a polling station—the results suggest a fundamental disconnect between entertainers and their fans.”
If Hollywood celebrities want to reconnect with fans, here’s a solution: Volunteer or give money to the Gary Sinise Foundation. The Gary Sinise Foundation is known for building special homes for wounded veterans, but also, according to its website, serves “defenders, veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need.” The foundation builds “smart homes,” places specially modified for ease of use by people with disabilities. Sinise, best known as the star of CSI: NY and Forrest Gump, established the foundation in 2011.
Sinise’s organization builds homes for people like Officer Michael Flamion. On July 8, Flamion, a police officer in Ballwin, Missouri, was shot in the neck from behind by a man he had stopped for speeding. The bullet severed Officer Flamion’s spine, paralyzing him from the neck down. The foundation also aided Marine Staff Sgt. Jason Ross, who was injured by an IED during his second deployment in Afghanistan in 2011, and has endured more than 240 surgeries. Both of his legs were amputated, along with part of his pelvic bone. He now lives in southern California in a home provided for him by the Gary Sinise Foundation. More recently, the Sinise Foundation helped U.S. Army Capt. Luis Avila, a wheelchair-bound, Iraq War veteran, and his family with a new smart home.
The election of Donald Trump has revealed a massive rift between Hollywood and Middle America. I’m reluctant to use the term “elites,” because I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being an intelligent and passionate artist and making a lot of money for your work. The problem isn’t wealth; it’s being disconnected from your audience. A very obvious and easy—and bi-partisan—solution to this problem is to get involved with a place like the Sinise Foundation. You can hate Donald Trump (and as a conservative educated on the intellectual ideas of William F. Buckley, Irving Kristol and Norman Podhoretz, I have plenty of reservations about our President-elect) but instead of whining on Twitter or encouraging people to reject a democratic election, why not try helping a wounded soldier and his family have a new home instead? Who knows? You might even find yourself having a conversation with some of those millions of people in flyover country who love your films—and without whom you wouldn’t even be a celebrity.