In 2009 Robert Downey Jr. was interviewed by the New York Times. When I read it I smiled, because the old phrase, “A conservative is a liberal who’s been mugged by reality,” seemed to ring true for the good actor:
“I have a really interesting political point of view, and it’s not always something I say too loud at dinner tables here, but you can’t go from a $2,000-a-night suite at La Mirage to a penitentiary and really understand it and come out a liberal. You can’t. I wouldn’t wish that experience on anyone else, but it was very, very, very educational for me and has informed my proclivities and politics ever since.”
It turns out that one paragraph in a single interview years ago made quite a few waves in the Hollywood community, so much so that Jeffrey Wells of Hollywood Elsewhere tried his hand at character assassination in 2011. I wonder if he’ll do a companion piece, since Joss Whedon wants to insert Democratic talking points into Captain America’s mouth; Mark Ruffalo (i.e., The Hulk) wants to stop oil companies from providing gas and heat to our homes; Samuel L. Jackson (i.e., Nick Fury) admits that the only reason he voted for Barack Obama was because he’s black; and Scarlett Johansson (i.e., Black Widow) hawks Barack Obama clothing and accessories for his re-election campaign. I won’t hold my breath.
Given all this, the universe demands that I write something pro-Robert Downey Jr.
Let us first establish one thing: Liberal Hollywood actors get to be activists. They get to loudly and proudly state their opinions. They get handed megaphones in front of large audiences or microphones off to the side of a fashion show runway. Robert gives a passing reference to rejecting liberalism and he’s attacked. Here’s what an anonymous source told Wells:
“His values are pure Republican values … He’s a serious materialist. He loves the great clothes, the beautiful house, the cool cars. He’s a ‘protect the rich’ guy. Why should the rich have to pay for this or that? The people who have it should keep it, and the people who don’t have it shouldn’t complain.”
Really? So Robert Downey Jr. tells the New York Times that his time spent in prison had a profound impact on his politics, but somehow we’re supposed to believe it’s really about wanting to swim in Olympic-sized pools of gold like Scrooge McDuck? Consider me skeptical.
What’s more likely: that Robert Downey Jr. found out that there are some really bad, really evil people behind bars…or that he just loves designer clothes? What’s more likely: that Robert Downey Jr. learned that allowing someone to suffer the consequences of their actions is often times better than perpetually shielding them from blow back…or that he wants to have a really nice house he can lord over the rest of us?
Robert admitted to the New York Times that he didn’t talk politics too loudly at dinner tables in Hollywood. Can anyone blame him? Even somewhat obscure allusions to a conservative streak gets the guy lambasted by his peers. It would be incredibly dangerous for Hollywood’s “Iron Man,” … someone as “cool” as Downey, to be openly conservative. The kiddies might take to such a message if it was articulated by an actor with a respected resume that runs the gamut. Downey can give a serious performance in an art house flick, he can do dark comedy, or he can do the summer blockbuster. And so, Hollywood must make the message loud and clear: “Great career you have there. It would be a shame if something happened to it.”
I’m sure that liberals in Hollywood aren’t happy that Iron Man 3 is getting The Tom Clancy treatment, particularly if that includes a script infused with Clancy’s conservatism. And so, I will leave them with one more comment to ponder. During his time directed by Joss Whedon for The Avengers, Downey said this:
“I will never mess with your intent. I will question every day how you plan to get there. But I will never mess with what you’re trying to accomplish.”
That sounds like many conservatives I know. Conservatives are much more inclined to say, “I know that you want to create a better place. However, your policies are naive, they don’t work in the real world and they actually have the opposite effect of your intended goals.” Remember when liberals used to pride themselves on questioning authority? Now it’s up to conservatives and libertarians; the Progressive college students soak up everything they’re told and liberal Hollywood stars blindly follow Barack Obama off a financial cliff.
Anyway, God bless you Robert Downey Jr. You’re one hell of an actor. See you opening night.
Update: Since Robert Downey Jr. has attended a Barack Obama fundraiser, I have addressed the matter in depth.