I Hate it When Celebrities Get Political -- Sometimes

Last Wednesday, Mike Rowe spoke at a Romney campaign event about destigmatizing the blue collar worker. And my world collapsed.
Publish date:
October 2, 2012
electoral politics, celebrity

My passion for men with lantern jaws and a perpetual five-o’clock shadow is a profound one. I’m pretty sure if I ever shared an elevator with Jon Hamm, they’d have to bring me up on charges. But there is something about "Dirty Jobs" host Mike Rowe that moves my switch (which is not a synonym for clitoris) from zero to 10 in a way that verges on supernatural.

Is it the way he wears a baseball cap? His earnestness and sincerity when it comes to advocating for blue-collar workers? That he used to be an opera singer? A biological imperative assuring me that with his shoulder-span and calloused hands he could surely chop enough wood to get me and my brood of fictive offspring through an arctic winter?

Whatever the reason, it’s there, and my ardor is such that for a prolonged period of time I dedicated an entire section of my personal blog to glorifying him.

Was it silly? Yes. It was a crush on a celebrity, and provided that shit doesn’t escalate to stalking and/or murder, celebrity crushes are almost universally silly. They also make a lot of sense. Not only are these people put in the eye of the public because they fulfill someone’s idea of physical perfection, but for the most part these are the people selected to play roles designed to transport us from the ordinary and transplant us into a magical world where we do not sit behind a desk all day, but rather, are Benedict Cumberbatch’s special friend.

In such a world, you see the celebrity as another version of yourself -- someone who shares your sense of humor, who’d appreciate your worldview, and, your political beliefs.

On Wednesday, at a stop on Romney’s campaign trail in Bedford Heights, Ohio, Mike Rowe spoke, at Romney’s invitation, about destigmatizing the blue collar worker. And my world collapsed. I took to my bed to mourn the loss of another great love. Actually what happened was I went and had leftover chicken as a late lunch -- but I sighed a lot during.

While not actively saying he supported Romney, Rowe is too smart not to know that by appearing on stage with the guy, he’s tacitly endorsing him. Mike Rowe, advocate for those who do the jobs that make “civilized life possible for the rest of us,” promised to vote for a man who, if elected, would be the wealthiest man to ever hold the office of president, a man who has demonstrated time and time again his fundamental disconnect from the working class. A man who is the opposite of everything I thought the woman-loving Mike Rowe was.

Because I’d forgotten that Mike Rowe, for all his bluster -- isn’t the second coming. He’s a TV host. Why do I hold him to a higher moral standard? Still, it leaves me reeling when the personality and system of beliefs I’ve assigned a celebrity prove not to be true. It’s happened before, and it will happen again but that doesn’t stop it from being a kick to my arousal-unit.

Celebrities know we feel this way, too. This is something filmmaker Jesse Silver noted in his documentary "Rated R: For Republican." Few famous Republicans are vocal in their support of the right, partially because it’s known to be a potential career killer. Heather Locklear, Bruce Willis and Chuck Norris -- all refused to even sit down with Silver. Angie Harmon, one time "Law and Order" vet and now star of "Rizzoli and Isles," had a difficult time in the public when she made her conservative beliefs known.

My best friend is hugely passionate about the show, honestly believing that the relationship between "Rizzoli and Isles" is one of the greatest gay love stories on TV. Sadly, it won’t ever be fully realized because of Harmon’s beliefs, although she’s quick to chirp, “All my best friends are gay!”

Back in the day, I had a cut-out of Mel Gibson in Braveheart in my bedroom. I scrawled “Rebecca and Mel” on his arm and circled it with a heart, a Bic tattoo declaration of eternal love. I knew he was a practicing Catholic, and so peripherally it occurred to me that we would not agree on everything, but I’d hoped that would be....sexy, in a “Get off of the table Dharma, no you get on this table, Greg” kind of way.

But when his all-too-public meltdown revealed just how deeply rooted his prejudice was, it was mortifying -- even though the cardboard cut-out had gone the way of the dumpster years earlier.

I’d long harbored a Bruce Willis fixation, but when I heard about his support of the war in Iraq, it overpowered every "Moonlighting"-themed fantasy I’d ever had: You can’t cutely bicker about whether or not war is morally defensible and then fall into each other’s arms, or at least I can’t.

Famously quiet about her conservative beliefs, is Sarah Michelle Gellar. In a way, this hurts more than any crush I’ve had, because this is Buffy -- this is the woman who quite literally made it her business to kick ass and take names and to constantly defy expectations. To support candidates not interested in advocating legislation that makes it easier to be an ass-kicking woman, mistress of her own body? It’s saddening, and no small wonder she keeps it close to her vest.

But by decrying their decisions, am I being just as exclusionary as I view their beliefs to be? In a way, me being devastated enough to take a Glenn-Close-in-the-Big-Chill type shower after hearing about Mike Rowe, is indicative of the larger problem of celebrity. Sure, I can decide to no longer watch movies starring Brad Pitt because he loves Ayn Rand, but does that really impact the quality of his performance? Does it change how blue his eyes are?

Do you think we have a responsibility to hold our favorite celebrities accountable for choices they make, politically? Personally? Have you ever broken up with a celebrity over their political affiliation?