Miss Manners would like a word with some of the biggest stars in Hollywood. The rhetoric coming from the Left Coast has been downright ugly of late, and it’s getting uglier as the presidential campaign slogs on.
And yet there’s precious little outrage from either the press or cultural critics about the hatefulness coming out of Hollywood these days. Could it be because that unexpurgated hate flows only in one direction?
Don Cheadle, a star from Captain America: Civil War and Showtime’s House of Lies, is hardly Hollywood’s most outspoken talent. He’s no Sean Penn or Tim Robbins. Still, Cheadle recently went on a Twitter tirade against GOP presidential hopeful Donald Trump. Why? He wished the reality show star-turned-politician would die in a grease fire. Oh, and he called Trump a “piece of s***” as well. Imagine if a member of “Duck Dynasty” had tweeted the same things about Hillary Clinton.
At least Cheadle didn’t compare Trump to Hitler. That task was left to a gaggle of stars including Sarah Silverman, Louis CK, Tom Green and Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day fame.
And then there’s Cher, who, like a rabble-rousing grandma who has just discovered social media, routinely slams conservatives in ALL CAPS via Twitter, and who managed to double-down on the Hitler card by comparing Trump to both Hitler and Joseph Stalin. “I just wish he’d fall off the face of the earth,” she added.
Trump got off relatively easy compared to the abuse Ann Coulter received courtesy of Comedy Central. The hard-right pundit participated in the channel’s Rob Lowe roast, and press reports suggest it was Coulter, not Lowe, who took the heaviest fire. Comedy roasts are supposed to be outrageous, of course, but is it ever appropriate to call a woman the “c-word,” as Coulter was called, or to compare a woman to a horse (body shaming!) or to say, as the singer Jewel did to Coulter, “The only person you will ever make happy is the Mexican who digs your grave.” British comedian Jimmy Carr called Coulter “hatchet-faced” before suggesting she kill herself.
If you can find the joke in that barb, good luck. And if you can imagine the outrage that would ensue if a conservative-leaning comedian made the same joke about a “hatchet-faced” Hillary Clinton, then you’re already familiar with the craven hypocrisy of the liberal Hollywood elite.
Some comedians, such as TBS star Samantha Bee, have made making fun of Republicans a staple of their routines. On the very first episode of her show Full Frontal, Bee called Sen. Ted Cruz a “fish-faced, horses*** salesman.” She’s kept up that coarse commentary ever since. This is the same Samantha Bee who howled over her network tweeting a joke comparing Hillary Clinton’s laugh to that of a hyena. Guess what happened next? Her TBS overlords quickly apologized.
This Hollywood hate is hardly new. Bill Maher once compared the family of former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to the mutant clan in The Hills Have Eyes. Palin’s family includes a child with Downs syndrome. And Orange Is the New Black star Jason Biggs made wildly inappropriate sex jokes about the wives of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan during the 2012 presidential campaign. Neither Maher nor Biggs suffered serious fallout for their words. The august Associated Press actually did damage control for Biggs, downplaying his attack in order to make the matter go away. The many liberal special interest groups that typically rally against hateful speech also stayed mostly silent.
It’s true that our culture is far too invested in the outrage game. When a star says something outrageous, we should all just take a deep breath and consider the context first. But if liberal Hollywood is comfortable dishing out such hateful, sexist, threatening rhetoric to Republicans this election season, it ought to be willing to take some tough words itself without playing the victim. Anything less is offensive.