When it comes to the entertainment community’s long-term relationship with President Obama, Hollywood is in the midst of a sea change.
Some of the same supporters who in the last presidential election showered Obama with campaign donations and public adulation appear now to be experiencing buyer’s remorse, especially in relation to one major issue.
Just last week, while out in Tokyo promoting a Showtime documentary, director Oliver Stone used some harsh rhetoric to express his extreme displeasure with the president.
“Obama is a snake,” Stone told the press. “He’s a snake. And we have to turn on him.”
The trigger issue that prompted the filmmaker to employ such strong language was the revelation that NSA surveillance of Americans had been taking place, the news of which came to light via the Edward Snowden leaks.
Stone additionally complimented the Russian government for granting asylum to Snowden, stating, “I think [Russian President Vladimir] Putin did the right thing, and I'm proud of him for doing it.”
Disclosure of the NSA surveillance has resulted in an unusual coalition of left, right, and every political persuasion in between, as was demonstrated in the voting patterns of congressional members in a recent legislative attempt to curtail the agency’s data mining activities.
The Snowden leak and the reports that followed have left many Hollywood supporters of Obama feeling betrayed by their prior candidate of choice. Some, as was exemplified by Stone, are not holding back in their public expressions of disapproval.
In response to the initial reports that the government had been collecting millions of Verizon customers’ data, Alec Baldwin lashed out at a press junket interview, calling the NSA surveillance a sign of lazy government.
“I think that the post-9/11 world is one in which people tell themselves that they’d rather be safe than sorry,” Baldwin said.
Including in his remarks the assessment that it takes “a lot of work” to preserve our democracy, Baldwin opined that “. . . we live in a world now where people aren’t willing to do the hard work and heavy lifting.”
“I think what’s happened in government is, on a non-partisan basis, is we’re not willing to work harder,” the actor added. “Let’s just do what we need to do, and if something is going to get jettisoned, if we’re in a lifeboat and we need to throw something over the side and lessen the load here to ensure our survival, some of these rights will be tossed aside. That’s a shame.”
John Cusack spoke out during a conference call as a member of the Freedom of the Press Foundation. The actor disparaged the press for focusing on Snowden instead of shedding further light on the details of the NSA’s surveillance programs.
“And now these revelations of spying on every citizen and perhaps every human being on the planet, the end of constitutional rights and American privacy. These are not subtle facts. And yet what we hear about from the press is the alleged character defects of the whistleblowers. That’s the oldest bait and switch in the book. We have to say that we’re not morons,” Cusack said.
The actor was of the opinion that the surveillance issue would remain in the public’s mind. “The questions that I think this NSA scandal raises aren’t going to go away, which is how long do we expect rational people to accept using terrorism to justify and excuse endless executive and state power,” he said.
Michael Moore uncharacteristically slammed the president over the NSA surveillance. The controversial filmmaker used his Twitter account to post a series of tweets on the subject.
“‘The administration has now lost all credibility.’— NY Times. I agree,” Moore tweeted.
“Good news from @Guardian — the government's not tracking everything we say, just where/when/how & to whom we say it,” he wrote.
“Ironic isn't it that the news that the government is spying on everyone comes out on the day Orwell's "1984" was published in 1949,” he additionally noted.
“HERO OF THE YEAR: #EdwardSnowden NSA tech assistant reveals he is the source of stories on U.S. Gov't domestic spying,” Moore posted.
Matt Damon recently discussed the NSA issue with The U.K. Guardian and posited that Obama is overcompensating due to a lack of military experience.
“I think it's tough for guys who weren't in the military,” Damon said. “One: Their manhood is kind of challenged on some level, I imagine, and they allow themselves to get bullied. And two: They're just politically afraid of either looking soft or looking incompetent, so they overcompensate.”
In December 2011 Damon similarly brought up the subject of the president’s manhood in an interview with Elle magazine.
“You know, a one-term president with some balls who actually got stuff done would have been, in the long run of the country, much better,” the actor remarked.
John Oliver, Jon Stewart’s “Daily Show” summer replacement host, compared the FISA court “rubber-stamp” approval of NSA surveillance requests to “American Idol with four Randy Jacksons.”
Oliver was not comforted by Obama’s reassurance to the public that the U.S. Congress had approved the program.
“Instead of being spied on by the executive branch, it turns out we’re being spied on by all the branches,” the comedian quipped.
James Hirsen, J.D., M.A., in media psychology, is a New York Times best-selling author, media analyst, and law professor. Visit Newsmax.TV Hollywood. Read more reports from James Hirsen — Click Here Now.
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