I want everyone to look at the chart below. It is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and it’s psychological theory has been around for about 70 years. It starts at the bottom and operates under the basis that human beings are motivated by unsatisfied needs, and that certain factors need to be satisfied before higher needs can be satisfied.
Reality demonstrates that people act on their basest needs.
We all need things like food, air, sleep, clothes, and shelter. These are basic to existence, to sustain life. Once we have them, they stop acting as motivators and we naturally gravitate to the next level up the scale where we become motivated by those needs. Achieving these goals is healthy. Preventing them makes us sick or act in evil ways.
This hierarchy of needs is why older people are smarter. Twenty year olds haven’t even satisfied the basic level yet, let alone mastered the highest level of self-actualization. That takes a lifetime. And that’s why, when young people protest on Wall Street, thinking their radical beliefs are correct, it’s almost laughable to the rest of us.
I could explain the hell out of it, but this psychological theory isn’t the focus of tonight’s blog. It’s about why artists are so liberal. The chart simply helps.
Hollywood is a competitive place to live and work. Hell, it might be the most competitive place to live in the entire world. The drive to succeed, to find an edge that propels you to the next level can be very compelling for those who seek to make it in the movie business. Of those who crave the sort of attention that steers them into the snake pit that is Hollywood, you can say these people are severely lacking in key areas such as confidence, friendship, and even morality. They are obsessed with satisfying those mid-level needs of belonging and esteem. These needs must be satisfied before developing a healthy creativity and intellect, but in the desperate setting of Hollywood, the underdevelopment of needs like morality, confidence, respect of self and from others might lead to finding oneself at a higher level of the triangle while too many of the more basic needs are still lacking.
Not all artists are Hollywood A-listers. The vast, overwhelming majority of them struggle to meet their most basic needs and are often dependent on entitlement programs or grants. The artist, who might otherwise be conservative, gets comfortable with the idea of government help.
That sets a certain mental stage of thinking.
On a side note, it also explains why the Democrat Party is so competitive with the Republicans. 51% of our nation‘s population receive some kind of government assistance, and are therefore reliant on liberal politics to meet their sustenance needs. To understand why minorities overwhelmingly support the Democrats, one need only look at the breakdown of those on assistance: 100% of Native Americans, 76% of African Americans, and 43% of Hispanics. The Republican Party holds two-thirds of the white population as voters, and it’s interesting to note that whites only account for 5.2% on assistance. The anomaly here are the Asian population, who although only 1.8% receive welfare, usually vote for the Democratic side, but I think this may be because they are the most urbanized of any racial group with nearly 75% living in major metropolitan areas and are concentrated on the two coasts in heavily blue states.
Anyway, sorry. I got a little off-topic with those statistics. Let’s keep this aimed squarely at artists.
Artists also know that success is often found in pushing boundaries. What I mean, is that art is usually only cutting edge once, and then it loses its impact because it already had its impact. So, artists find that the easiest way to create a niche for themselves and make it in the business is to push a boundary. Preserving tradition (a value of conservatives) doesn’t work for most. That takes an artistic genius. For the rest, they rely on breaking norms to accomplish notoriety, rather than rely on genius they don’t have.
Creativity is usually born of deep emotional angst. In order to tap into the deepest well of creative ability, it is often necessary to dwell on emotions others have the convenience of glossing over. We are all sad when we experience the death of a loved one. The creators of The English Patient had to not only experience the death of a loved one, they had to think of every complexity, and focus in depth on the emotional trauma in order to invite their audience to experience it on film. While we all at some point are witness to the death of a loved one, the writers, filmmakers, and actors of The English Patient had to delve into every painful portion of those experiences, contemplate it, ruminate on it, and experiment with it in order to assure that the audience would live the most compelling parts of that loss in the movie.
The result of all this is that the artist dwells in the realm of emotion.
That’s a very important distinction that separates the artist from the average individual.
While all of us experience emotion, we have the luxury of moving on. Not the artist. They have to dissect it, magnify it, and live it for months on end. Then, like some cruel joke, the artist is often rewarded for their attention to detail in showing us the precise most painful components of pain, loss, grief, insecurity, and other emotional landmines.
Think about it. The artist is conditioned in a way to live and work based on emotion. It would seem natural that they would then transpose that action on other elements of their life, such as marriage and friendship and politics.
Artists are not paid for tapping into the power of rational reasoning. Therefore, they have no real reason to exercise or even acknowledge the rational argument of a situation. Much of art is fantasy to begin with, for example, one would not appreciate the movie King Kong if the artist explained how a giant gorilla couldn’t really do what the movie depicted. The Harry Potter films would flop, J.R.R. Tolkien would be a side note, Monet would have sunk right into his pond, and Twilight would be bankrupt.
When an artist gets on their public soapbox and tells us how to “fix” our social or economic problems, it shouldn’t surprise us that they are looking for heroes and villains, for victims and perpetrators, for bigger than life fantasies that aren’t really based in reality (and therefore won’t work).
Artists are not trained to delve into reality. They are trained to stylize reality. When it comes time for an artist to consider possibilities and rational conclusions in areas like politics, their mind immediately goes to the dramatic. They see victims, heroes, winners, losers, angels, demons.
To further complicate matters, mankind has an innate need for religion. Conservatives argue that such needs are breathed into us by God, but liberals have to try to push those needs aside. Artists, who tend to be deeply emotional and psychologically needier than the basic population, arguably have the strongest need for God than any other part of the population. They won’t admit it, but deep down in their subconscious, they feel this need and suddenly, the cult of liberalism becomes a pseudo religion that holds all the answers to their unmet needs. Watch the movie stars as they age. After a lifetime of watching their expectations continue to exceed the outcome, many artists grow weary of liberalism and become conservative. This is how we ended up with Hollywood republicans like Ronald Reagan, Charlton Heston, Tom Selleck, James Caan, Clint Eastwood, James Woods, Jon Voight, Chuck Norris, Dennis Miller, Bill Cosby, Kurt Russell, Mel Gibson, Andy Garcia, Gary Sinise, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Denzel Washington, Robert Duvall, James Earl Jones, Kelsey Grammer, and Bo Derek, to just name a few.
I don’t dislike liberal artists. In fact, I’m enchanted with the art they create, perhaps even more than most, but it doesn‘t take a rocket scientist to understand that most artists deal with fictional depictions and that naturally leads to a skewed perception of how people really are.
I repeat, artists are not rewarded for reality. They are rewarded for their dramatic representations of what reality could be.
So why do artists feel compelled or qualified to delve into the political arena when they have no training for it, and when their life experience lacks the credentials necessary to relate to the rest of us who don’t live in Hollywood?
Because most artists are motivated by strong ego needs. They need power, attention, praise and fame. And they do this by advocating large changes in the society around them. This draws attention to them with the promise of being seen as wise, innovative, and caring. They are fishing for emotional acceptance.
We all want to believe that our work is meaningful and significant.
Artists do too.
Matt Damon is a brilliant actor and his sensitive portrayals on film help reveal the beauty of the human condition, but he makes the mistake of believing that the meaning in his work makes him an “educator.” And that’s why he won’t shut up.
Remember the last presidential election. Remember how Hollywood flocked around Barack Obama as if he were the new messiah. Remember his campaign slogan: CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN.
One of the most consistent themes of a liberal’s love of change is the need for equality. And the belief in equality requires support for such things as redistribution of wealth, heavily progressive taxes, entitlement programs, and socialized medicine. Keep those government assistance statistics in mind.
I don’t know about you, but I already see everyone as being equal.
We all start out with the same glittering potential, and all the same personal responsibilities that go with it. But some don’t recognize that it’s the responsibilities, the tough things like sacrifice and hard work, that deliver on the potential.
According to the Left, that knowledge apparently makes me an asshole, somehow.
According to Matt Damon, Obama’s inability to completely transform and “change” our country as promised in his campaign slogan makes the President an asshole too.
Maybe I am an asshole. But I’m also a history addict. And the bitter experience of history has shown that Leftists in power are very dangerous and destructive people.
I don’t say it, history says it.
Social movements to the left have always started with class warfare, promised utopia, and resulted in political power that runs effectively unchecked. From there, things generally seem to resort sooner or later to mass murder. Think of the French Revolution, the onset of Marxism with Lenin and Stalin. Think of Hitler and Mao and Pol Pot.
I think liberalism is inherently destructive.
I think conservatism, while imperfect, is the far better alternative.
There’s hope on the horizon because liberal artists have a dilemma. With the ongoing debt crisis, economic downturn, rampant unemployment, and now mass protests occupying our cities, the average consumer in America is becoming fed up with all the instability and is becoming increasingly more conservative. We don’t want needy movie stars telling us what to think, no, we want older people, wiser people, who have satisfied all the levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy and who have earned the true qualities of self-actualization. We want people who are motivated by truth, justice, and wisdom to lead our country.
I’m not sure if this growing mood will be enough to change the occupant of the White House next year, but I am sure it will eventually. And then it will play out in the box office.
And Hollywood always listens to the box office.