Last week, a group of prominent actors and movie executives from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences visited Iran.
Fresh from the Academy’s triumphant Oscar-night celebration of homosexuality and religion-bashing, Sid Ganis, president of the Academy, Oscar-nominated actresses Annette Bening and Alfre Woodard, former president Frank Pierson, and producers William Horberg and Tom Pollack made the journey to Tehran.
There they met with the Iranian House of Cinema, the film organization operating under the auspices of the Islamic, homosexuality-banning Iranian government. Bening and Woodard donned the hijab. Ganis proclaimed the trip a success, explaining, “As soon as we received the invitation from the Iranian Alliance of Motion Pictures we applied (for visas) and now we are happy to be in Iran since we got acquainted with the Iranian people and cinema.”
The last time a large group of prominent non-Persian Americans visited Iran, they were held captive for 444 days. This time, however, the U.S. State Department, which has issued a blanket travel warning about Iran, rubber-stamped the trip.
It is no surprise that the State Department under President Obama approved such a trip. Obama intends to open negotiations with the Iranian government over their nuclear weapons program, despite their intransigent militarism, anti-Americanism, and anti-Semitism.
The broader question is why Obama is using Hollywood power brokers rather than actual officials when it comes to the world’s hottest spots. In the last month, Obama and Vice President Joe Biden met with George Clooney, who briefed them on the situation in Darfur; Nancy Pelosi did a press conference with Brad Pitt to draw attention to the continuing situation in New Orleans.
Since when have Hollywood stars become proxies for actual policymakers?
Since America elected its first Hollywood-created president.
Barack Obama is both the product of Hollywood and its benefactor. Obama’s sloganeering and slickly crafted citizen image won him the White House. Hollywood helped him develop that image, from producing the anti-Iraq war propaganda that propelled him to prominence to packaging his Democratic National Convention -- contributors included Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, and “An Inconvenient Truth” director David Guggenheim. Hollywood contributed tens of millions of dollars to Obama.