I said in 2013 that one of the reasons conservatives defended Robert Downey Jr. was because liberals attacked the man. Perhaps the best example was the 2011 hit piece from Jeffrey Wells’ Hollywood Elsewhere (now flushed down the Memory Hole), in which an anonymous source said the actor’s values “are pure Republican values.” That came after an interview in The New York Times that drove liberals batty, but before the actor attended a fundraiser for President Obama. Apparently Robert Downey Jr’s ideological blasphemy is still stuck in the media’s craw because he was just ambushed during an interview with British reporter Krishnan Guru-Murthy.
The Huffington Post reported Wednesday on the interview, which ended with Marvel Studio’s Iron Man walking out:
Krishnan Guru-Murthy: I’d really like to ask you about a quote you gave to The New York Times. I don’t want to pry so if you don’t want to talk about it that’s fine, but what you said to The New York Times was — it was about, it was after your incarceration and you said that you can’t go from a $2,000 a night hotel suite to a penitentiary and understand it and come out a liberal. I just wondered what you meant by that.”
Robert Downey Jr.: The funny thing is — and I appreciate your point of view — things you said 5-7 years ago or things you said in an interview that made sense to you at the time — I could pick that apart for two hours and I’d be no closer to the truth than I’d be giving you some half-assed answer right now. I couldn’t even really tell you what a liberal is, so therein lies the answer to your question.
Krishnan Guru-Murthy: The statement sort of stands by itself, doesn’t it? Does that mean that you’re not a liberal? Or that you came out of a prison not being liberal?
Robert Downey Jr.: Are we promoting a movie? To me the thing is that it’s — I’m certainly not going to backpedal on anything I’ve said, but I wouldn’t say I’m a Republican or a liberal or a Democrat. I think when I was talking to the person who was doing the interview that day and that just happened to be my opinion. That’s the nice thing, you can have opinions and they change and flow.”
Robert Downey Jr. is in a horrible position. A guy who has been to prison probably realizes that hard-core criminals will never adopt the peace-love-dope worldview of liberal beat poetry readings and bongo-circles. Perhaps he’s a fiscal conservative who is socially liberal. Maybe he was against the war in Iraq but he understands that leaving radical Islamic head choppers the their own devices is a bad idea.
How does the man define himself politically, especially when he has to work with hard-core liberal activists like Joss Whedon and Mark Ruffalo? The best thing to do to keep the peace on set is probably to just stay silent and stick to playing Tony Stark really well — but that is not good enough for the media.
Robert Downey Jr. will always have to be on guard against a media ambush because he refuses to use his Twitter feed to lecture people on climate change. He doesn’t get into abortion politics. He doesn’t harangue people about minimum wage laws or demonize Republican politicians. This is unacceptable to pundits who want celebrities to push liberal politics on as many people as possible while they’re in the limelight.
The vast majority of Americans do not want Hollywood stars to lecture them on public policy. They appreciate that Robert Downey Jr. keeps his politics close to the vest. They are glad that he walked out on Krishnan Guru-Murthy and wish more actors would follow his example.
The moral of the story is this: The creative team behind “Avengers: Age of Ultron” could learn a thing or two from Robert Downey Jr. If Marvel’s talent wants independent, libertarian, and conservative fans to continue flocking to Marvel Studio movies, then they should knock it off with the political activism.