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I'm not sure I understand your discomfort. After all, these same actors routinely endorse products and commercial services. Does that make you uncomfortable? I suspect actors don't know much about the products they endorse, even if they happen to use them.

I recall a Federal Trade Commission case where the agency argued a celebrity endorser had an obligation to understand the "scientific" validity of his claims on a weight-loss infomercial. The appellate court mercifully rejected that argument.

In his book on the anti-capitalist mentality Mises nominated showbiz people as candidates for anti-capitalism because their trade is so competetive and dog eat dog that they go left after hours to compensate. Someone else suggested that narcissism was an occupational hazard so maybe collectivist sentiments are a compensation for that.

In his book on the anti-capitalist mentality Mises nominated showbiz people as candidates for anti-capitalism because their trade is so competetive and dog eat dog that they go left after hours to compensate. Someone else suggested that narcissism was an occupational hazard so maybe collectivist sentiments are a compensation for that.

I think this is a strange post. You could just as easily argue that actors have a better understanding of public opinion (since they themselves are extremely popular) than a group of economists whose views are far from mainstream. Or--I prefer this argument--that economists shouldn't take a public stance on global warming, since that is a scientific issue. Here's a line of your post rewritten to show my point: "As far as I know, reading ECONOMICS PAPERS, or even writing AN ECONOMICS PAPER, doesn't instill any special knowledge on issues of GLOBAL WARMING."

Is acting supposed to be a "value-free" enterprise? Are actors required to adopt and pronounce values only after engaging in some kind of sustained analysis (so that we can distinguish "positive acting" from "normative acting"?)

I guess the real question is why are their values so homogeneous?

As to your last part: I have very strong opinions as to who is a "good" actor, what is a "good" movie, etc. Yet I have never formally studied acting or the movie industry. Imagine actors saying "who do these people (like me) think they are, pronouncing on acting without any obvious background understanding."

Well, actors have no monopoly rights over distinguishing good from bad movies; economists have no monopoly rights over distinguishing good from bad policy.

I think the Oscars are more about, these days, about how self-important they find themselves. That's why Al Gore was more than willing to go to the Oscars, whether he was nominated or not, he still would have shown up so he could be fawned over by "popular" people. Gore won't even go to a place where there is the possibility of a debate and actually being challenged.

The awards shows used to be about "good" acting and writing, now, its abouts about a bunch of peacocks preening for the cameras. Actors and actresses alike feel that they have the right to take a stance because they believe themselves to be important to the world. The media doesn't help in this aspect of their ego.

To paraphrase William Easterly, having George Clooney talk about Darfur is as valuable and useful as me starring opposite Julia Roberts in the new Ocean's Eleven sequel. However, as Ludwig Von Mises makes clear in the Anti-Capitalist Mentaility, if you believe in freedom, you can't stop ill-informed opinions being expressed, or indeed poor taste in movies. It is up to those who understand the arguments and believe in them to win the debate.

Actors have no choice but to be political. They make millions of dollar pretending to be something they're not. They feel guilty about being so rich, since most are Marxists, and about getting it from a profession that contributes so little to the improvement of society. So they must choose some cause to give meaning to their pathetic lives.

Pete I think you make a good point on this, and what's worse is that it is not confined to cinema and film. Writing in all forms; fiction, non fiction, journalism, scripts, plays, essayists etc; take any college English class reading or writing and the majority of your time is going to be spent talking about the ideological climate of what is being read or written. English teachers encourage their students to think and write on these issues regardless of background. Some of them even consider themselves to be political economists.

On this I think your comments about McCloskey's econoliteracism is of crucial importance. We need more of "our types" chiming in to interpret and contextualize the important novels and movies of our times.

The contemporary ideological climate for actors throughout the world is as hemogenous, naive, and anti-liberal as anyone could hope against a social environemt being. It is unbelievable that such a hemogenous composition of group think can sustain itself over the years dedicated to spewing the same automaton, half baked center left theology.

What is the marginal cost of actors expressing political opinion? Close to zero (as long as it approximates the median - I would argue). What is interesting is why they would risk stating an opinion when the median on the given issue (global warming) is unclear. Or is it?
Furthermore, what is the marginal benefit? This question is harder to answer. I tend to think political (as do physical) appearances count for more than substance in this industry - but that still leaves much to be explained.

"So why do they feel so comfortable telling us their political opinions? The truth content of those opinions is not what I am concerned about, it is the comfort level that they feel in expressing views of public policy without any obvious background understanding on the issue at hand."

Pete, what's the mystery? On Oskar night they have an audience that is one-billion strong. The audience itself has no special training in public policy, either.

Emily above asked what's the marginal benefit. Who knows... but perhaps it is that they appear not only socially concerned, but socially enlightened. Didn't Dicaprio say, for instance, that if he weren't an actor he'd be an environmentalist?

Pete seems mystified by all this. But here's the fact: a billion people don't tune in to the AEA meetings, or the handing out of the Nobel Prize in economics. We don't have an audience. They do.

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