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Thursday, February 16, 2017

What would we do without celebrities to tell us how to vote and how to live our lives?

During the 2016 presidential campaign, the media delighted in reminding everyday Americans that most actors, singers and athletes lean hard to the left politically, and that the arrival of candidate Donald Trump on the scene for the GOP had spun up Tinseltown this year like a kicked-over anthill.  Anyone who has paid even the slightest amount of attention to national politics over the past few decades is no doubt aware that most Hollywood personalities and professional sports stars vote Democrat.  There are exceptions, but they are harder to find all the time.  I hope that the numbers are a bit more balanced than we are led to believe, and that intimidation and bullying keep a decent percentage of conservative voters in the entertainment community from expressing their political convictions, but each election makes me more pessimistic.  The truth is, none of this should matter.  Theater and film actors, directors, writers, singers, technicians, cameramen and movie extras are all entitled to support which candidate they choose, and the same holds true for professional athletes, coaches, and sports journalists.  So why have I wasted a paragraph, restating the obvious?  Because many personalities within the entertainment and professional sports community have decided to take advantage of their access to the press and media, and verbally abuse and threaten the candidate they dislike.  This development has provided me with the opportunity to examine the entertainment community in America today, in an effort to determine what they have accomplished, which makes them feel entitled to lecture the everyday folks of this great nation regarding their respective personal choice for president.

The Entertainment Industry has created, and continues to create, more millionaires percentage-wise than any other industry in the nation.  I don't watch the sitcom the "Big Bang Theory", but I am aware that the two main stars each make more than one-million dollars an episode, with the rest of the cast probably not far behind.  This kind of money seems obscene to me, and I have no clue how much more money these particular actors make from endorsements and the seemingly never-ending percentage earned since the show has become syndicated.  Jennifer Lawrence, one of Hollywood's hottest stars, makes an average of forty-six million dollars annually, Jennifer Aniston clocks in at twenty-one million, Jennifer Lopez at forty-million, and Meryl Streep, the doyenne of the group, brings in a not-too-shabby seven million dollars a year.  On the other side of the coin, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson commands over sixty-four million per year, Matt Damon fifty-five million, Tom Cruise fifty-three million, and Johnny Depp can expect to make forty-eight million dollars this year.  Again, these figures do not include a whole variety of opportunities that are available to famous folks.  Of course, these are estimates that I collected from various websites, including the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and TMZ, but the point I'm attempting to make can be understood without down-to-the-penny details.  Sure, I'm only commenting on the artists who sit at the top, but if you have the skill and charisma to be successful, Hollywood will hand you a paycheck to make all your dreams come true, and this includes the television actors whose names may not be familiar.  When I read that the actors in a recently-canceled, less-than-successful television series each made more money in only one season than I made in my entire career working for the CIA, I realized that the Entertainment Industry truly is drowning in cash.  The companies that create movies make most of their profit from overseas ticket-sales.  Interestingly enough, all that is required to sell out the movie theater in Paris or Kuala Lumpur, is to remind the theater-goer that the film was a huge success in the United States!  The sad American dichotomy that many performers and athletes make more money in a month than most Americans make in a lifetime of work, continues to grow with impunity. 

The average salary of a professional basketball or baseball player in 2017 is over four million dollars annually; the pro football player makes a bit less, at two million.  In the pro leagues, the team owners and the athletes take home unbelievable paychecks, regardless of the particular sport.  Where does all this money come from?  Have you noticed the price of a movie ticket lately?  Have you paid over thirty bucks for a medium Coke, a hot dog and some nachos lately?  Not to mention the two-hundred dollar authentic Dak Prescott jersey and the "official" NFL Cowboys baseball cap, which ran upwards of thirty dollars.  People are willing to pay two-hundred dollars to see the San Antonio Spurs play (the cheaper tickets require you to bring your own oxygen).  I'm a strong supporter of capitalism, so I'm in no position to complain when people make money from the system.  Also, people have the right to spend their money as they see fit, even if its on a three-hundred dollar Green Bay Packers blanket.  I'm hopeful that our economic system will eventually bring some balance to this issue.  I can't imagine salaries continuing to rise for both entertainers and athletes in this fashion, but I guess its possible.  I can't help but think that the average American will reach the point of having to choose between filling up the gas tank or taking the family to a movie.  Maybe at that point some sanity will return to the industry.

I never cease to be amazed at the greed that is regarded as normal behavior in the entertainment world.  Once a performer has become established and successful, there are no qualms about hiring a ghost writer and putting out a book a two.  Successful singers have a habit of sliding over into the acting business, grabbing even more dough while they can still take advantage of their familiarity to the American public and their access to the media.  Athletes have a habit of transitioning from professional sports to the world of motivational/public speaking, which can be very lucrative, especially when Apple, Google, Facebook or Microsoft are willing to pay two-hundred thousand dollars for speaking appearances.  The CEOs of these billion-dollar companies are only interested in finding a familiar face that will impress investors and stockholders who will be in attendance.  Back in the ancient days, when I was in grade school, actors were actors, athletes were athletes, writers were writers, and motivational speakers were non-existent.  I am disgusted with this community of multi-millionaire performers and athletes, who don't hesitate to elbow into other professions, taking audiences and resources away from persons who are singularly dedicated to their craft.  I will never forget when I glanced over the NY Times best-seller list and saw two books written by Bravo "housewives" and a self-absorbed, badly-written effort by Dr. Phil taking up spots that should have been occupied by dedicated, talented, sincere writers.  Successful performers and athletes have an unfair advantage.  They are able to use their access to the rich and famous in the business world and publishing, along with a recognizable face, to put away another million or two with little effort.  At least ghostwriters are doing good business.

Besides being actors, singers, athletes, authors, and writers, many persons within the entertainment community have also decided that they are much smarter than the average American.  They have accepted the obligation to instruct us on how to vote, because obviously the American people can't get along without their guidance.  This particular annoyance would be much less a distraction, if it weren't for the offensive and threatening attitude taken by these "entitled" folks.  Twice I have read that Robert DeNiro wants to punch President Donald Trump, and I can't count how many times the Baldwins, the Streeps, the Kathy Griffins, and the Madonnas have labeled all Trump supporters as Nazis and Racists.  We've experienced this type of aggressive political bullying on the part of the leftist entertainment community before, but never with such self-satisfaction and moral superiority.  And all from people with mansions, property in the Caribbean, secret offshore bank accounts, chauffers, and not one who could guess the price of milk or eggs.  Another new element was the inclusion of the know-it-all, leftist professional athlete (or in the case of the San Antonio Spurs basketball team, know-it-all, multi-millionaire Coach Gregg Popovich).  I was fascinated observing the left, as they struggled to decide whether or not to embrace the Colin Kaepernick "insult the National Anthem" movement (they did).

I'm convinced that Hillary Clinton lost valuable votes in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Florida because of the liberal left's willingness to accept America-bashing as part of its effort to discredit the Trump candidacy.  For years the media has painted Conservatives as evil, intolerant, name-calling fascists, and yet the average American voter had no trouble identifying the party and the ideology behind the hate injected into the 2017 campaign.  The mouthpieces for this message of nastiness was no doubt the rich and famous leftists within the entertainment community.  The famous personalities who were happy to go before the camera and label anyone with an opposing opinion a "racist" or a "Nazi" never seemed to end.  For some time I tried to keep track of them, so to avoid watching their programs or buying tickets to see their movies.  After a while, though, it became apparent that I would have to cut off my television altogether, which may not be such a bad idea after all.

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