Thursday, 14 August 2014

What are the political views of Hollywood action stars?

This post documents the political views of the top 50 Hollywood action stars, as established by the list of action stars compiled at Ranker. (Note that the list provided by Complex is extremely similar.) The conventional wisdom is that people in Hollywood are overwhelmingly progressive (a term which I shall use in place of 'liberal', so as to avoid confusion), leaning strongly towards the Democratic Party. And indeed, this conventional wisdom seems to be largely correct. Though I couldn't find any figures on the total faction of individuals in Hollywood who lean left, there are a number of pieces of evidence suggesting that a great majority do: the direction of most campaign contributions from actors; Gary Oldman's recent rant in Playboy magazine; Kurt Russell's comments to Bill O'Reilly in 2004; and the fact that the word 'Hollywood' is often prefaced with 'liberal', which in the US refers to those on the left.

It is therefore interesting and somewhat surprising that there are a considerable number of Republicans, conservatives and libertarians among the top 50 Hollywood action stars, as revealed in the table below. Incidentally, the main source of information I used to identify each actor's political views was the website Hollowverse; Wikipedia and Google searches were utilised for those without a Hollowverse page. If anyone has any information contradicting one of my assignments, please let me know.

Using a broad definition of political views that encompasses those labeled 'possible', 38% of the top 50 action stars are Republicans, conservatives or libertarians, while 34% are Democrats or progressives. Using a narrow definition that excludes those labeled 'possible', 30% are Republicans, conservatives or libertarians, while 28% are Democrats or progressives. If each individual is weighted by the inverse of his rank (i.e., Bruce Willis gets '50') then: under the broad definition, 47% lean right, while 26% lean left; and under the narrow definition, 37% lean right, while 22% lean left. Looking at just the top 20 action stars, the proportion who are on the right is even higher.

Overall, these figures may not in fact be very surprising. Indeed, they are consistent with the hypothesis that men with high upper-body strength tend to have self-interested political views, meaning that those who happen to be economically advantaged are more likely to lean right.

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