Hollywood has been accused of letting its old McCarthyism shame creep back into the 21st century: driving conservatives into hiding and professional exile, like it once blacklisted communists.
Granted, that analogy goes too far for some. But for others, not far enough.
“You gotta be real careful around here,” actor Tim Allen said on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” after stuttering through a confession that he attended President Donald Trump’s inauguration. “You get beat up if you don’t believe what everybody else believes. This is like ’30s Germany.”
Allen, who plays a vocal conservative on his sitcom, “Last Man Standing,” has been one of few in Hollywood to speak openly about his right-leaning views.
Another 2,500 of his colleagues feel so stigmatized that they have joined a clandestine support group, according to a Los Angeles Times article profiling retribution and secrecy forced upon “the vast majority of conservatives who work in entertainment.”
“In 30 years of show business, I’ve never seen it like this,” an unnamed actor told the outlet. “If you are even lukewarm to Republicans, you are excommunicated from the church of tolerance.”
Since it premiered several years ago, Allen’s show has been hailed as a rare counterexample to Hollywood politics.
“Finally, we have a hero who hunts, fishes, watches sports, and occasionally drives a tank,” the Imaginative Conservative wrote.
But Allen himself has complained of network censorship when his protagonist, an alpha-male family man whom the actor has called “an educated Archie Bunker,” tries to go after liberal icons.
Allen “admits he has gotten more than one warning to stop calling President (Barack) Obama a ‘communist,'” the TV Page reported in 2015.
Allen didn’t sound so dire during the Republican primaries, when the Hollywood Reporter asked whether he vented his own political views through his character.
“It’s getting more and more comfortable,” he said. “These guys know me so well that they’re writing stuff that is exactly what I would’ve said. It’s a marvelous thing when you have liberal people writing for (a show like this).”
And he sounded lukewarm about the prospect of a Trump presidency.
“Forget the stupid s– he says about immigrants,” Allen said. “That’s just ignorant. But he might be able to do the stuff that really needs fixing.”
After the election, on Fox News, Allen compared Trump to an amateur performer with “very bad comic timing.”
“I don’t want to defend the guy,” he said.
But he backed Trump’s supporters in his industry.
“What I find odd in Hollywood is they didn’t like Trump because he was a bully,” Allen told Megyn Kelly. “But if you had any kind of inkling that you were for Trump, you got bullied for doing that. It gets a little hypocritical.”
Kelly agreed. “I know many of them who are part of the Hollywood conservative underground,” she said.
The industry has become more toxic to conservatives since Trump took office, the Los Angeles Times reported. Workers complained of political shouting matches on set and the professional shunning of those known to hold right-leaning views – although some had enough celebrity to speak out safely.
It’s unclear whether Allen feels like one of them.
When Kimmel asked him about his trip to the inauguration ceremony, the actor’s eye bugged out and he stammered:
“I was invited, we did a VIP thing for the vets, and went to a veterans ball, so I went to go see Democrats and Republicans,” he said.
“Yeah. I went to the inauguration.”
Kimmel laughed and said, “I’m not attacking you.”
(c) 2017, The Washington Post · Avi Selk