Americans Trust Actors Most

bengAccording to a new poll from Reader’s Digest, Americans know who they trust: actors. The most trusted person in America: Tom Hanks, producer of the great series Band of Brothers, and actor in not-so-great movies like Larry Crowne and Castaway. Hanks also happens to be a wild leftist – he once stated, “Back in World War II, we viewed the Japanese as ‘yellow, slant-eyed dogs’ that believed in different gods. They were out to kill us because our way of living was different. We, in turn, wanted to annihilate them because they were different … Does that sound familiar to what’s going on today?” When he came under fire, Hanks told the truth: “Look, I’m an actor. I’m not a politician. I’m not a statistician. I’m not a legislator.”

But he is trusted.

And he’s not the only one. Clocking in at number two was Sandra Bullock, star of The Blind Side. What has Bullock done to earn trust? Nobody knows, but we sure like her onscreen. Also in the top ten: Denzel Washington (Flight), Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady), Steven Spielberg (director of Lincoln), Alex Trebek (host, Jeopardy!), and Julia Roberts.

Hollywood is heavily overrepresented on the list as a general matter. A full 40 of the top 100 people on the list are chiefly cultural figures from television or movies. Ubiquity is what matters.

Now, no one can tell us much about why actors and actresses should be trusted. But that’s how our brain biology works. Hollywood understands something that the Republican Party doesn’t: presentation matters. People trust Tom Hanks because he reads lines that make him trustworthy, and because he has a trustworthy face. For the same reason, Tim Roth isn’t on the list – he plays a villain, and he looks like he should be cast as the villain.

Hollywood uses the power of that trust to leverage its values down our throats, too. Hollywood and the media have created heroes for us. Ben Affleck (who appears at #45 on the list) is a huge fan of Howard Zinn’s and a big supporter of President Obama’s. Ellen Degeneres (#18) is obviously one America’s most high-profile advocates for same-sex marriage.

Hollywood matters. But the GOP seems to think it doesn’t. Top members of the GOP pretend that the only town that matters is Washington, D.C., when in truth, the only town that really matters is Hollywood. That’s where views are shaped and formed. That’s why Barack Obama spends so much time there – not just because that’s where the money is, and not just because he uses the image consultants that shape Tinseltown, but because he understands that he needs Hollywood to push his messaging.

For decades, though, Republicans have abandoned the playing field in Hollywood. Hollywood, back in the 1930s and 1940s, was a far more evenly-split town in terms of politics. That’s because many of the corporate heads who made Hollywood profitable supported Republicans. But with the rise of television, all of that shifted – advertising agencies, based in New York and staffed by creative young liberals, began to exert more and more power in the industry. In the early 1970s, Hollywood made a complete break with the American people on politics, swinging hard to the left to appeal to youth – whom, they claimed, were more valuable viewers than older folks.

That shift left Republicans out in the cold. Richard Nixon, instead of wooing allies in Hollywood, went to war with it. In 1971, he tried to file antitrust lawsuits against the networks. “If the threat of screwing them is going to help us more with their programming than doing it, then keep the threat,” Nixon said. “As far as screwing them is concerned, I’m very glad to do it.”

The Nixon years polarized Hollywood even further, so much so that by the time a real Hollywood insider, Ronald Reagan, became president, Republicanism was a dirty word. Today, that feeling has been bred into the genetic code of Hollywood.

Republicans must find a way to break that cycle. If they don’t, they’re doomed to massive failure in the culture war. Imagistics matter. Emotional manipulation matters. That’s what Hollywood does best. It’s why we like Leonardo DiCaprio (#80), even if we’ve never met him and he turns out to be a tool personally. Hollywood creates friends for us. And then our friends help define how we think.

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  • Alex

    I'm an american cinema fan and it's a great post about hollywood story. Ben Shapiro is one of the brightest journalist.
    ____________________________________________

  • Alex

    I'm an american cinema fan and it's a great post about hollywood story. Ben Shapiro is one of the brightest journalist.
    ___________________ http://www.findoutwheresomeoneis.com

  • cedarhill

    Simple reason: Majority of Americans love and trust liars. Look who's elected.

  • objectivefactsmatter

    “Back in World War II, we viewed the Japanese as ‘yellow, slant-eyed dogs’ that believed in different gods. They were out to kill us because our way of living was different. We, in turn, wanted to annihilate them because they were different … Does that sound familiar to what’s going on today?”

    Tom failed to see the valid point he made: We are at war with Islam. We are just as righteous now as we were then. Perhaps he thinks we were the bad guys at the time?

    Leftists are scary.

  • Howard

    Many Americans feel they can trust Tom Hanks or Ellen Degeneres because they have developed a much deeper relationship with the flickering two-dimensional images of these celebrities then they ever will with the neighbor across the street or down the hall.

  • κατεργάζομαι

    The only actor I ever trusted was Ronald Wilson Reagan!

    Our 40th President of the United States (1981–1989).
    Prior to that, he was the my 33rd Governor of California (1967–1975).

    • SCREW SOCIALISM

      I really don't understand the praise heaped on Reagan.

      You can't credit Reagan for the Eastern European Spring which led to the fall of the Soviet Empire. You can credit Gorbachev for not crushing the peoples rejection of Soviet Socialism and move to Freedom.

  • Doug Mayfield

    One possible explanation for the trust is that actors are good looking individuals who (usually)
    handle themselves well under pressure in public. They have a look, a stature, which they've developed
    as they train they themselves to meet the demands of their profession.

    And surrounded by 'yes' people on their payroll, they do not have to debate the ideas they hold. No
    intellectual challenges for them. They get the what they believe by osmosis.

    I don't hold it against them. The American people have to get past counting beautiful and glib as meaning that someone is right.

  • barb

    American's really need to turn off their televisions and open the door to the real world outside. Get out and mingle with people in your community and see if you can make a difference in what used to be a great world. We've become network zombies. And hollywood knows this. And they use that power to make us ignorant. Dumbing down the masses. It's been done before except it was referred to as 'brain washing'.

  • Winston

    What a disgusting and bothersome assessment of "who Americans trust more – Actors". Those people live in a land of delusion, self-absorption, drugs, alcohol, deceit, and moral depravity. And this is what Americans trust most? There's no wornder America, as a nation, is in decline. The Bible warns us NOT to become "man-followers" but always be followers of God/Jesus/Holy Spirit.

    • ltcdmward

      You mean, er, Idol-atry. Spiritual adultery. Dolt worship.

  • AnOrdinaryMan

    Spencer Tracy said it best, when he commented "I'm not very good at life." But he often played heroic roles, and did such a good job, that viewers couldn't help but believe that had he come to life in those roles, he would have succeeded. Tom Hanks is a superb actor; but his roles are mostly of everyday people trying to survive.("Castaways" for example)Also, many of Hollywood's most successful actors of the 1940's–1960's served in the military. These include Clark Gable, Ronald Reagan, Robert Taylor, Audie Murphy, Fess Parker….I could go on; but many of these actors were also successful outside of acting. Name TWO followers of Howard Zinn, who served in the military. Name TWO actors/actresses who follow Howard Zinn who are successful outside of acting. You can't do it…

  • Jim_C

    Readers Digest poll. I'm sure it's very scientific!

    This was a poll of "Most Trusted Celebrities," by the way. Of COURSE actors will be on it! The other "trusted" people: TV doctors, TV judges, other bland, friendly TV personalities…etc.

    I'm not even sure what this measures…it's a popularity contest for people with enough time on their hands to know or care who these people are.

  • ARETHEYNUTS

    BS I trust no one who jobs is to pretend to be something/someone else

  • Jim

    The limbic system always over rides higher association cortex.

    People operate on feeling. Advertisers advertize sell on the basis of how buying their product will make you feel. They do not waste time on the economic advantages to you.

    The Ponzi schemes are based on trust. Trust is based on the criterion ' is the person like one of us ?"
    The next criterion is "does the investment pay off big? and make me feel secure?'
    Another criterion is ' Is it easy money'
    still another criterion ' if he is so smart is he rich' If he appears rich he is.
    Never mind it is other peoples money
    The starting criterion is 'is he one of us' starts the ball rolling.

    Acting is all about feeling. The feeling of how nice it would be to be rich, famous, and glamorous .
    When they watch the actor on the screen their Mirror Neurons are firing like crazy and with it the feelings.

    Don't waste your time with supply demand curves. They do not make people feel.

    George Romney never had a chance but Reagan did. Guess why?

    Liberals know all this why shouldn't conservatives.

    Marx appealed to a lot of people but never to the over all public.

  • Ragnar

    I can count on one hand the number of actors I would trust, and they were all popular in the 1940s and 50s. Trust Tom Hanks? You gotta be kidding; he's the yellow dog. Hollywood has become crap; I watch Brit, French, Danish, Swedish and Japanese films for the most part. Oops; almost forgot the Vietnamese "The Scent of Green Papaya".

  • cdnbn

    What we are witnessing is the outcome of mass visual media's effect on the minds and values of a Nation's population.
    Historically unprecedented, in case no one was paying attention.

    Producers of visual media naturally tend to the dreamy, wishful, idealistic end of the bell curve.
    If you can present it visually, it seems to have more substance, it seems like you can make your idealistic dreams real. And the masses of idealistic dreamers will follow you.

    History is now showing us the logical outcome.

  • tanstaafl

    What is Obama but an actor?

  • FrontPgSubscr

    Actors (and actresses) give people what they want to see -which
    often means what they want to feel … and that's, often enough, to
    tell them what they want to think!!

  • Sheena

    Maybe the reason we trust them is because they are being true to the character they are portraying. Nothing wrong with that.
    _______________________________________________________ http://www.mommymakesgrainfree.com

  • yamatomesin

    Mesin Jahit
    I can count on one hand the number of actors I would trust, and they were all popular in the 1940s and 50s. Trust Tom Hanks? You gotta be kidding; he's the yellow dog. Hollywood has become crap; I watch Brit, French, Danish, Swedish and Japanese films for the most part. Oops; almost forgot the Vietnamese "The Scent of Green Papaya".