John Carter,Battleship,The Dictator, Dark Shadows—add Barack Obama’s campaign to the list of Hollywood bombs shelling the 2012 summer box office. Like them, Obama for America is in the red, and reviews are notpositive.
Obama’s reelection is the ultimate studio production, a sort of political It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World that costs millions, features a cast of thousands, and stars some of the biggest names of the day. However, like all screwball comedies, things are not going as the protagonist intends. The entertainment industry has captured Obama’s presidency, and shifted the national agenda onto terrain familiar to California and New York liberals, but unfavorable to the independent voters who will decide 2012.
Having alienated practically all of business and Wall Street, the president has come to rely on film, fashion, and music donors. He raffles off tickets to dinners with George Clooney and Sarah Jessica Parker, and backstage passes to see Marc Anthony. Dreamworks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg has given $2 million to the Obama super PAC Priorities USA, even as his studio is under SEC investigation for alleged bribery of Chinese officials.
The most recent list of contributors to the Democratic National Committee resembles a promo for a bad episode of Hollywood Squares: “Kirk Douglas, Billy Crystal, Robert Downey Jr., Jack Black, Tom Hanks, Salma Hayek, and Burt Bacharach.” That last name is worth mulling. To paraphrase another million-dollar Hollywood donor to Obama’s super PAC, here is a new rule: When one relies on the composer of “What’s New Pussycat” for money, it may be time to say a little prayer for one’s campaign.