Actor Matt Damon, whose fee the last time I checked is $10 million a movie, has his finger on the pulse of the American common folk, and he wants you to know he feels your anger about economic inequality.
The American public is angry about financial unfairness, Damon said recently, but neither political party is addressing that in its presidential campaign. “I don't think the Republicans or the Democrats really understand the level of anger at the sense of unfairness that the majority of people in the country feel,” he commented.
Damon, 41, was speaking at Comic-Con in San Diego, where he was promoting his upcoming (March 2013) movie Elysium, a $100 million sci-fi epic with a class warfare message as subtle as an Occupier’s Molotov cocktail. Here’s part of the synopsis:
In the year 2159, two classes of people exist: the very wealthy who live on a pristine manmade space station called Elysium, and the rest, who live on an overpopulated, ruined Earth… A hardline government official will stop at nothing to enforce anti-immigration laws and preserve the luxurious lifestyle of the citizens of Elysium.
Anti-immigration politicians, environmental devastation, One Percenters… all this movie needs is a futuristic racist Tea Party congregating in a homophobic chicken restaurant and it will have addressed all the left’s current favorite targets.
The movie star’s revelation about the anger of the common man came at a Bruce Springsteen concert he attended several months ago at New York's Madison Square Garden. In a song entitled Jack of All Trades, about Wall Street greed and the gap between the Haves and Have-nots, Springsteen sang: “The banker man grows fatter/The working man grows thin.” The lyrics make no mention of the fact that the working men and women in his audience grew quite a bit thinner just paying for the concert tickets, which began at $115+ each for general seating. Springsteen nevertheless dresses like a working man himself onstage, in solidarity with them.
“Now sometimes tomorrow comes/soaked in treasure and blood,” the Boss went on. “There’s a new world coming/I can see the light.” And then comes the provocative line: “If I had me a gun, I'd find the bastards and shoot them on sight.” Damon said, “Now when he says that, when he's saying that, the place roared. I mean roared. Like 30,000 people involuntarily screamed their approval. And it was so alarming.”
One-Percenter Damon hurried backstage afterward to hobnob with One-Percenter Springsteen and discuss how in touch they are with all the hoi polloi outside. “I went backstage after and saw him and it was the first thing he said to me. He's singing to firemen and cops and real people. And the fury that's there is very, very real.”
Curiously, the left’s populist ire never gets directed against the rich on their own side of the political fence, like Springsteen or Damon himself or, for example, his colleague, Titanic and Avatar director James Cameron. Cameron said recently that “we’re going to have to live with less,” which is jaw-dropping hypocrisy coming from a guy who owns, among other homes, a $25 million, 730-acre stretch of Malibu ranchland. The entire Occupy movement could bivouac there when they aren’t out aimlessly vandalizing businesses and defecating on police cars. Why aren’t they protesting that Cameron “didn’t build that”?
Damon is one of Hollywood’s most politically vocal actors. He shoots from the hip often about political matters in interviews and reveals himself to be passionately opinionated, albeit misguided and hypocritical. I’ve written about him before, about his very active promotion of the subversive work of radical historian Howard Zinn; his shout-outs to the treacherously influential academic Noam Chomsky in Good Will Hunting, the movie that made Damon a star; his demonization of Tea Partiers as being willing to drive the American economy “off a cliff”; and his apparent affinity for the Occupiers’ social revolution. He has even expressed frustration with President Obama in the past and at Comic-Con for not living up to his more progressive promises and not providing more leadership for the Occupy movement:
I'd be shocked if Romney won [the presidential election]. You know, I think Obama is the clear choice. But I've said before I'm really disappointed in him, and I am, particularly because of the banking stuff. He so misread that.
Actually, it is Damon who is misreading things. Sure, no one is happy about bank bailouts or insider trading or Bernie Madoff, and the Occupy types are angry because they don’t want to have to work for anything. But the anger most Americans feel about the economy is not because they want government to enforce financial equality, but because they want government to quit interfering with their ability to determine their own economic destiny. The majority of people in this country want equality of opportunity, not equality of results, and it is the latter that Obama and Damon and their ilk really mean when they talk about “fairness”:
That sense of unfair – the sense that we don't have a country anymore when people don't feel like they have a chance, like it's going to be fair... If people feel like the deck is stacked against them, then they stop playing by the rules. Because why play by the rules? The game is fixed, right?
Damon is suggesting that, under capitalism, the deck is stacked against the little guy, and so government must intervene to make things “fair.” What is necessary is for government to fix the game – by punishing success, squelching the entrepreneurial spirit, and encouraging government dependency.
Capitalism is imperfect; it offers liberty, not promises. But what Damon and his ideological cohorts don’t or won’t understand is that capitalism, not socialism, is precisely what gives the little guy a chance to be as successful as he wants – maybe even as successful as Matt Damon.
(This article originally appeared here on FrontPage Mag, 8/3/12)