Occupy Wall Street and Hollywood
WHAT enormous comfort it must give the Occupy Wall Street protesters to know that celebrities feel their pain.
Roseanne Barr, for example. The comedian bleeds for them. Or, rather, would have others bleed; inspired by the protests, she recommended the guillotine for the greediest bankers.
Such a subtle creature, she, and so oppressed to boot! Back in the 1990s, for the final seasons of her sitcom “Roseanne,” she made at least $20 million a year.
She was not the 99 percent.
The rap mogul Russell Simmons and the rapper Kanye West meandered over to Occupy Wall Street’s cradle, Zuccotti Park. By all accounts West was wearing more bling, though Simmons has bigger bucks: his net worth has been estimated as being between $100 million and $340 million. West’s is below that, and he made only $16 million or so last year.
They are not even the 99.5 percent.
And while that doesn’t disqualify them or Barr or other entertainers from sympathizing with Occupy Wall Street, it does give their public gestures of solidarity a discordant, sometimes specious ring. It also confuses the identity of a protest movement that already has challenges aplenty in the coherence department.
The movement’s “we are the 99 percent” motto expresses ire over not only the unaccountability of huge financial institutions but also income inequality in America and the concentration of so much wealth and privilege in so few hands. Every time a wealthy messenger gloms on, that aspect of the message gets muddled and possibly compromised.
And the glomming has begun. With a slowly growing number of actors and musicians paying well-chronicled visits to Zuccotti Park, the movement is in danger of becoming a sticky fly strip for entertainers who like to flaunt their self-styled populism: a gadfly strip.
Susan Sarandon has been. Michael Moore has been. While both may have been propelled there by genuine anger, they have so much of it, are so famous for it and spread it so widely that their appearances can do the opposite of elevating a demonstration, making it seem merely fashionable and giving naysayers an easier way to roll their eyes.
Entertainers are members of the well-connected economic elite against which Occupy Wall Street ostensibly rages, whether or not they want to see themselves that way. True, they’re not bundling mortgages, and they often have their extravagantly beating hearts in the right place. Many donate generously to charity. Many do remarkable good…