The Daily Caller, in its efforts to discredit some of President Obama’s celebrity surrogates, has decided that the most effective way to push back against people like Sarah Jessica Parker is to imply they’re ugly and synonymous with their roles. In an item entitled “Sarah Jessica Parker sticks her nose into 2012 campaign,” Neil Munro apparently thinks it’s clever to play off a fact that some people don’t like Parker’s looks, calling her “the celebrity horse that Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign is betting on.” And he goes on to suggest that Parker is defined by the fact that “she played a single New York columnist who meets and sleeps with various men while living in the city. The role made her famous, and also won her a top place in New York City’s social circuit.” The Daily Caller might take a moment surfing over to IMDb for a reminder that Parker was a well-established actress long before she signed on for Sex and the City. And apparently this comes as news to folks, but Sarah Jessica Parker is not, in fact, the same person as Carrie Bradshaw.
The whole thing is an ugly, substanceless slam disguised as a piece of reporting about the fact that, shockingly, some conservatives don’t like the ad that Parker cut in support of the Obama campaign. Parker, by the text of this reasoning, is apparently incapable of supporting the Obama administration effectively because she is wealthy and is an actress. But the subtext is clear: Sarah Jessica Parker is ugly. And she was in that slutty television show, too. This kind of slagging of a successful woman is the last refuge of people with no legitimate arguments who are terrified they’re losing. It’s the rhetorical equivalent of shining a mirror in someone’s eyes so you can run away while they’re distracted.
I generally find the idea that people who work in Hollywood are flaky or somehow less entitled to their political opinions than the rest of the country bizarre. It’s not as if someone who makes a lot of money as an industrialist or an energy titan is uniquely more connected to middle class Americans than someone who works in Hollywood. If hedge funders get some sort of credit for interacting with white collar workers in their office or working on issues that end up affecting the rest of the American economy, there’s no reason actors and directors shouldn’t get equivalent credit for their contact with their crews or for working on projects that explore fantasies of American life. There are smart and thoughtful people and dumb and shallow people working and succeeding in every industry in America.
And beyond the basic intelligence of people who work in Hollywood, it’s not as if entertainment is a job detached from politics, or as if one’s employment is the sole determinant of what political issues one is invested in. Sarah Jessica Parker has a long record of involvement with UNICEF and has done work on behalf of anti-hunger programs in New York. Latina actresses like Eva Longoria and Rosario Dawson have backed the administration as parts of their efforts on voting access and women’s issues. Conservatives love treating Hollywood celebrities like they’re valuable and substantive when they voice conservative opinions, whether it’s Jon Lovitz critizing Obama or the prospect that Obama might lose Hollywood support during the SOPA fight. But when they back liberal politicians or causes they’re inherently dumb, vapid, substanceless. And apparently if they’re women, you can single out their noses as a reason to tell them to stay out of processes they don’t belong in.