Christian Toto, Free Speech

Toto: Hollywood’s free speech hypocrisy

Hollywood can’t keep quiet about, well, almost anything these days. It wasn’t always like this.

During the Golden Age of Hollywood, studios attempted to control their superstars as much as possible. They sculpted their public personas, including their names, diets and sometimes even love lives. Image meant everything, and studios weren’t about to take chances on the men and women who made their movies magical. That control took a sinister turn for some stars, like Judy Garland. Studio pressure egged on her drug abuse, an addiction which fueled her demons for decades. She died in 1969 at 47.

So stars rarely spoke out as early, or as often, as today’s actors do. That suffocating studio system is no more, and good riddance. Over the years, stars slowly found their voice above and beyond their speaking parts. Now, it’s hard to pick a headline and not know, within a few mouse clicks, what a gaggle of stars have to say about it. Think immigration, taxes, the economy and so much more. Celebrities have every right to speak out, and the public can either cheer or jeer their thoughts.

Ain’t the First Amendment grand?

Only the spirit of that very amendment is getting bloodied these days. It’s not the government stomping down on free speech, at least not yet. It’s the culture at large, and it’s ugly. Where does one even begin? Conservatives are alternately banned or demonetized regularly on YouTube, the massive, Google-owned video platform. Dennis Prager’s squeaky-clean lessons, dubbed PragerU, are deemed too sensitive for younger viewers. That, in turn, severely restricts the number of users who can watch them. Project Veritas’ explosive report on social media censorship ended up getting censored … by some of the very same platforms in question.

Conservative actor James Woods is no longer on Twitter after the social media platform banned him for betraying its mysterious rules. Yet liberal stars say far, far worse with nary a consequence. Many of these bannings take place without warning or explanation. Poof! You’re Tweeting one day and then gone the next. Yet Louis Farrakhan, one of the most hateful people on Planet Earth, continues to Tweet sans restrictions.

The free speech fight on universities nationwide is so pervasive they made a movie about it. Adam Carolla teamed with Prager to create “No Safe Spaces,” coming this fall. The film examines the roots of the far-left’s fury against free speech, and how even liberal professors aren’t immune from attacks. The movie’s most eloquent voice may be Van Jones, the liberal pundit aghast at measures to silence free-thinking souls. So, a Hollywood community that pipes up 24/7 on the issues of the day must be raging against the free speech scolds. “Yes, conservatives don’t share my world view, but they have every right to be heard,” said Very Famous Actor on a Very Famous Social Media Service.

Not even close.

Celebrities are stone silent on all of it. No furious tweets from actress turned activist Alyssa Milano. No press statements from august stars like George Clooney and Meryl Streep.
Nothing. The irony is stupefying. Free speech is at the very core of their creative endeavors. They exist to tell stories, to share their voices with the world. Even when one of their fellow superstars, Scarlett Johansson, is shamed into dropping a role by these very same scolds, they remain silent.

Imagine if the stars stopped comparing ICE detention centers to concentration camps for a day. What if they rose up, en masse, and demanded free speech for all. It could make a real difference. It’s hard to take some stars seriously when they compare President Trump to Hitler, or worse. What if they addressed free speech, the very soul of their profession? Think that might cause a tectonic shift in our cultural plates? At the same time, the move would carry a bipartisan spirit (since it’s mostly conservatives facing the brunt of the free speech attacks). That would not only make stars look magnanimous, it would soften their toxic messaging going into the 2020 election campaign.

“Liberal Stars Rally to Protect Conservative Speech.” What a headline! Not yet, at least. For now, Hollywood, Inc. continues to batter the GOP on all fronts. They’re leaving the free speech fight to conservatives. History will not be kind to their silence.

Christian Toto is the editor of the Colorado-based HollywoodInToto.com.

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