The Culture Current: Joy Villa Rises; The Rock Falls…?
Sometimes our side does things right, in the Culture War. Breaking Bad is considered one of the greatest series of the modern era—Brian Cranston creating one of the most memorable television characters in recent history: Walter White, aka Heisenberg, alias The One Who Knocks. And yet, for a time, it wasn’t a mainstream hit—just a cult favorite making the rounds a la Dexter and Mad Men. As for most would-be viewers: “Oh, yeah, Breaking Bad—I heard of it; I hear it’s really good! I just…haven’t gotten around to checking it out, yet.”
Until, that is, Rush Limbaugh went on the air and announced he was now watching the series, and loving it. He made sure to give us all we needed to know to catch up, like 24 creator Joel Surnow did for him. And with that, dear readers, Breaking Bad exploded into the mainstream.
See, much as the Hollywood establishment doesn’t like to admit it, Conservative audiences are the ones who make television shows into hits. (And by extension, movies into blockbusters, but I digress.) Back in 2010, The Hollywood Reporter published a story of a study revealing exactly this: Series favored by Republicans, and not by Democrats, were as a rule far more likely to make the Nielson Top 10 than the reverse. Democrat-favored shows tend to enjoy “heard-it’s-good-but-haven’t-gotten-around-to-watching-it” status at best. At the time of the study, it counted Breaking Bad as one of them.
That was before The Godfather gave it a rave.
Speaking of Rush, another incident a couple years back involved fans noticing him playing air violin on the Dittocam during a break. He got e-mails asking what he was listening to. He answered the question on the air, and sales/downloads of the piece skyrocketed on Amazon. (It was a Hispanic artist’s rendition of a Mozart piece, if you were wondering. Nowadays Rush uses it as part of his bumper rotation.)
Why am I bringing all this up? Well, thank a singer named Joy Villa—pretty much unknown aside from a tendency to show up at the Grammys in nothing but the most, er, interesting attire. One time, she wore a dress made up of orange construction fencing.
Yes. Don’t worry, she had covering in the right places.
Anyway, this singer shows up at the Grammys last weekend in a white dress…or rather, white overdress. But then she took it off…and underneath, a blue dress with “Make America Great Again” on the front. On the back, down on the train: “TRUMP”.
Apparently, the most controversial thing she’s ever worn.
In case you’re wondering, she wasn’t doing it just for the controversy—she really is a Trump supporter! (As she tweeted out, “Go big or go home. You can either stand for what you believe or fall for what you don’t.”) And so is the dress designer—Andre Soriano, a Filipino immigrant.
That’s right. Immigrant. Miss Villa, by the way, is Italian, Choctaw Indian, and African-American. Watch them Lefties howl.
Well, they did. Apparently, they’re sending her death threats. But then, Joy’s made videos about handling this kind of peer pressure. As for all this, “Bring it!”
For our part, in the aftermath of the Grammys, our side went right to work. Before all this, her album I Make The Static ranked 543,502nd on the Amazon sales chart.
Afterwards—just yesterday—it ranked #1. It knocked the soundtrack for Fifty Shades Darker out of that spot. Just for that, Joy’s a heroine. Or does the credit go to Trump supporters? Ah, well…
Now, you may wonder if I’m taking part of that. Well…not particularly; modern, Rhianna-style pop just isn’t quite my thing. I think she’s okay—and incidentally, she gave a nice cover of Queen’s “We Are The Champions”. It’s pretty apropos, wouldn’t you say?
But regardless, if modern pop is for you—well, here’s your next superstar to support! You’re also striking a blow for The Don. And for bonus points, if it means beating* bad S&M Twilight fanfic, I salute you all!
At any rate, I’m certainly pleased to see our side’s rank-and-file contribute positively to the popular culture. That’s far too rare—even this past week. Yes, we did good with Joy Villa. Alas, our tendency to overreact just sprung up again, too—and in this case, against one of the guys we know is on our side!
I’m referring to The Rock himself, Dwayne Johnson—a known Republican who supported Bush, and ever since then has crafted a beautifully bipartisan image as one of the most likable and charismatic all-around good guys in Hollywood.
Now, there’s a clothing manufacturer called Under Armour, that makes attire with The Rock’s brand. He’s a celebrity spokesman for it. And Kevin Plank, CEO of the company, is a member of Donald Trump’s American Manufacturing Council.
Keep that in mind: Johnson has not raised any stink about that. He has no problem with Plank associating with Trump in and of itself.
So…what’s the ruckus?
See, after a recent meeting of the Council, Plank made a statement that Trump being “such a pro-business president is something that is a real asset to the country. People can really grab that opportunity.”
Now, a group of celebrity endorsers took exception to that. And Dwayne Johnson’s one of them.
Here’s the full text of The Rock’s Instagram post about the situation:
“I appreciate and welcome the feedback from people who disagree (and agree) with Kevin Plank’s words on CNBC, but these are neither my words, nor my beliefs. His words were divisive and lacking in perspective. Inadvertently creating a situation where the personal political opinions of UA’s partners and its employees were overshadowed by the comments of its CEO.
“A good company is not solely defined by its CEO—a good company is not defined by the athlete or celebrity who partners with them. A good company is not a single person—a good company is a team, a group of brothers and sisters committed to working together each and every day to provide for their families and one another and the clients they serve.
“We don’t partner with a brand casually. I partner with brands I trust and with people who share my same values. That means a commitment to diversity, inclusion, community, open-mindedness and some serious hard work. But it doesn’t mean that I or my team will always agree with the opinion of everyone who works there, including its executives. Great leaders inspire and galvanize the masses during turbulent times, they don’t cause people to divide and disband. My responsibility here is not only to the global audience we serve, but also to the thousands of workers who pour blood, sweat, and tears into making Under Armour strong. A diverse group of hardworking men and women who possess integrity, respect and compassion for one another and the world they live in.
“Debate is healthy. But in a time of widespread disagreement, so is loyalty. I feel an obligation to stand with this diverse team, the American and global workers, who are the beating heart and soul of Under Armour and the reason I chose to partner with them. My commitment is as real as my sweat and callouses that thicken daily.
From what people have written about this, you’d think The Rock had pulled a Meryl Streep. Here’s the thing, though: All he’s saying, here, is: “Look, if he wants to support Trump, great—but as the CEO of this company, he can’t use that to endorse him. It implies the whole company shares the same stance. CEOs shouldn’t get political, especially when using celebrity endorsers who might disagree. Politics divide people, and by him going political as the boss of people who might disagree with him, he’s putting those people in a tight spot!” That’s all The Rock said, folks. He didn’t trash Trump. And for the record, he’s still associating with the company.
“But Eric!—But Eric! Plank said nothing wrong—he just made a comment on how beneficial Trump is to business. He’s speaking as a member of Trump’s council!”
Maybe so. I happen to agree—Johnson’s overreacting a little, himself. But in his defense, I think he was dragged into making a comment by his fellow celebrity endorsers—who were much more blatant in their disagreement with Plank. Had he said nothing, think of all the attention that would’ve cast onto him—all the pressure to make a political comment, one way or another. And so, he gave a very diplomatic answer about the division-filled response to Plank’s comments.
Cue the online alleged-Conservatives: “NOT GOOD ENOUGH! I used to like The Rock, but not anymore! He’s a traitor! They’re all traitors! BOYCOTT HOLLYWIERD! BOYCOTT IT ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!”
On a side note: These Snowflakes apparently want to have their cake and eat it too. You’ll often see them calling upon everyone to torrent the movies of “those Hollywierd types”. You know—”torrent”, as in “go to sites that hack movies and post them online for free.” Stealing products to distribute for free. Like commie rats. Amazing.
The point is, we clearly still have a long ways to go, before we finally get it into our heads that letting loose with friendly fire—that’s bad. The Rock is one of the good guys, folks! Just because he’s not as vocal as John Voight or Stacey Dash, that doesn’t change it. He deserves our support—our criticism, perhaps, but amid that support. With an industry dominated by the enemy…nothing less will do.
*(Pun not intended until after I wrote it.)
Image source: Wikimedia Commons / Eva Rinaldi
License: CC Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic
Eric was raised by Conservative Christian parents, but first became especially passionate about politics in high school, through reading up on economic theory. He also first read The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged around this time, for the ARI's essay contests. He now owns a great deal of Ayn Rand's work. Also included in his library are the collected works of Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Ann Coulter, etc.
Eric is no stranger to writing commentary, as the writer of the Conservative Considerations column on CampCampaign.com, and as a film critic and commentator on FlickRev.com. He has also carried on the Conservative tradition of talk radio commentary, as the host of "Avengers of America" for the USF student radio station, Bulls Radio. In the meantime, he is practicing what he preaches: Striving to enter the professional realm of Hollywood, he has already written and directed short films for the Campus MovieFest, which can be found on his YouTube channel, Hard Boiled Entertainment.
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