President Barack Obama’s first term energized Hollywood in direct proportion to the anger the industry aimed at his predecessor.
Gone were the hard-hitting documentaries, protests and anti-authoritative rants that came to typify the celebrity response to two President George W. Bush terms in office.
Actors, singers and producers maneuvered 180 degrees, actively campaigning for both Obama’s legislative measures and his re-election campaign. They hit the concert stage to fill his coffers, cut videos to push his divisive agenda and made movies like The Campaign which struck at key Republican benefactors like the Koch brothers.
And Obama not only welcomed the praise but made sure he thanked the stars who wrote all those checks and spent countless hours campaigning on his behalf. He did so most recently by letting Hollywood off the hook in the ongoing debate over the causes of gun violence.
The Obama era’s most generous offer came with an extension of Hollywood tax cuts as part of the fiscal cliff deal, the kind meant to stop productions from fleeing the country for international spots where tax incentives welcome actors with open arms.
Did it matter that a gaggle of A-list actors simultaneously begged Obama to raise their taxes while scooting off to foreign lands so production companies could save a few extra bucks?
The Stop Online Piracy Act represented one Hollywood wish left unfulfilled. SOPA may have suffered a dramatic defeat, but it’s hardly wise to declare the matter down for the count.
The demise of SOPA paved the way for the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), a sort-of Son of SOPA that tried to sand away the rough spots from the original act. CISPA passed the House of Representatives but so far hasn’t moved to Obama’s desk for signing.
As of January 2013, Obama and the Democrats don’t need much help against conservatives. But if the economy continues to plod along, and the 2014 mid-term elections start frightening progressives nationwide, Obama and co. may need Hollywood’s help–via messaging and money–more than anticipated. Could that spark a new, improved SOPA-lite?
In Hollywood, anything is possible.
Now, with the Inauguration at hand, celebrities like Cyndi Lauper, Usher, Beyonce, Ben Folds, Jamie Foxx, George Lopez and many more will help usher in Obama’s second term.
There’s little talk of hope and change these days, but Obama’s celebrity backers are still ready, willing and able to serve the president’s agenda–and if that keeps the tax cuts coming, all the better.