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The wisdom of actors

This gave me a bit of a laugh:

“Vampire Diaries” star Ian Somerhalder, an outspoken critic of the BP oil spill in the Gulf, appeared at Thursday’s Washington Post Live conference on energy policy in the nation’s capital. The actor, who was “chill” about speaking in front of members of both houses of Congress, fit in so well in his suit and tie that some wondered about possible future political aspirations down the road.

No, I had never heard of Ian Somerhalder before either… and that was not what made me giggle… it was one of the comments on this article:

It is just wonderful that being an actor gives you such profound insight into the world that politicians actually want hear what you have to say in person.

Certainly when I ponder energy policy or any of the other difficult issues, the first thing that comes to mind is “Now I wonder what Ian Somerhalder’s take on that is?”

I really wish that instead of grinding that economics MA I had gone to acting school as maybe people in DC might actually decide to ask me what I think about energy policy or the economics crisis. Oh well.

– Bell Curve


30 comments to The wisdom of actors

  • Verity

    Hehehe doubled!

    Who the hell cares what an actor thinks?

  • Richard

    This is the same kind of BS as in the Colbert testimony. It gets shoveled out in a cutesy way to distract from real issues, and then when the perpetrator’s all called on it, they justify it by claiming it “raises awareness”. It’s rather sad, since the viability of this sort of political stunt seems to imply that there are enough voters who are too young and/or too stupid and/or too self-congratulatory to realize that had as much effort as is currently put into raising awareness about a problem been initially put into solving it, it might never have expanded to the degree that would make it sound reasonable to raise awareness about in the first place.

    Really, this is just Bastiat’s window replacing labor/capital with the public’s attention span.

  • There is a lesson in the irony there… perhaps more free-market people should attempt acting their way through an acting career, if they can…

  • Pretty much what Richard said – I particularly like the last line, which I am tempted to think should be immortalized as the Broken Concentration Fallacy of public discourse!

    I don’t draw such unpleasing conclusions from it, though, because I see nothing in it that requires idiocy to explain it rather than our old friend professional self-interest:

    1) “Raising awareness” is within the mass media’s remit. Prioritizing what to be aware of, let alone figuring out what to do about it, is something in which they have neither commercial interest nor specialized advantage.

    2) Anybody who raises doubts about the wisdom of taking your advice from shouty guys with megaphones on rooftops, is working against a 24-hour chorus of shouty guys with megaphones, blaring that sceptics are Luddite looneys and so is anybody who listens to them. This tends to hamper argument.

    3) Politicians have a professional interest in the public’s believing that we, Joe Public, are in general fools who will listen to any loudmouth with a big megaphone, and therefore ought to leave serious business to properly qualified authorities, i.e. them.

    4) Politicians have an equal interest in spreading the belief that, megaphones being so powerful and free-will so uncommon, anyone who attracts public attention must be answerable for all their words and deeds to properly qualified authorities, &c.

    These blatant vested interests do make sensible public conversation difficult, but they also discredit the party line to the extent that the audience notices them.

    Raised awareness in that quarter is what the shouty guys and the bossy guys can’t handle – and the current volume and stridency of the shouts suggests they may be running scared of it already.

  • Has anyone thought of starting a blog called “The Wisdom of Actors”, something along the lines of Goths In Hot Weather?

    I don’t follow movies or drama closely enough to do it myself, but if anyone likes the idea and it hasn’t yet been done, there it is.

  • James Waterton

    He’s a critic of the BP oil spill? So the fuck what?! Hey, I’m a critic of the BP oil spill, too! And not just this oil spill, no no – I’m against all oil spills. But I didn’t always feel this way. I used to totally dig oil spills. Hell, I even used to dunk my pet parrot in olive oil daily. The bigger the slick, the better – that was my motto. Just a few years ago I would have, like, been totally amped over this BP oil spill. Funny how things change! This guy and myself, we’re like brothers, because this is a really tough corner to fight, considering the overwhelming body of opinion against us.

  • Stonyground

    I remember reading a piece that had been written by pop star Benny Anderson, I don’t recall now what it was about. The thing was that it was intelligent and well argued and I seem to have mainly agreed with what he was saying. The thing is I didn’t agree with him because he was Benny from Abba, he could have been Benny from Crossroads for all I cared, I only agreed to the degree that he seemed to be making a good point.

    @James Waterton.
    That was my first thought, who on earth is in favour of oil spills? If you don’t want to share responsibility for them you have to give up using oil though, so maybe he’ll be doing that.

  • What James Waterton said. I love the idea of someone being “a critic of the BP oil spill”, like there’s lots of people who were and are still in favour of it.

    Also, what mike said. Funny how right wing/libertarian people suddenly change their minds about what morons all actors are, if just one actor says something they agree with. Then they go crazy. You see! You see! He/she agrees! Isn’t he/she nice? Isn’t he/she clever? Etc. Sadly, few actors now do this.

    On political matters, actors, as with their entertainments, typically rely on lines produced by others. Our task, one of many, must be to write more of those actor’s lines than we do now.

    In my opinion, good actors are mostly not morons, about what they know how to do, which is drawing attention to themselves and what they are doing and saying, and making it look and sound significant. It’s because they are not morons about this that there is so much argument about what they say. Sensible or silly, it counts for a lot and we all know it. Hence: what Natalie said. Say those who are being disagreed with by them: Who cares what bloody actors say? Answer: a great many people, and probably many more people than care what you say, you grumpy bastards.

    Quite a few actors have genuinely interesting things to say, especially on the subject of how exactly they accomplish what I describe in the previous paragraph, but also about other things that they happen to know about and to agree with me about.

  • Brian wrote: ” Funny how right wing/libertarian people suddenly change their minds about what morons all actors are, if just one actor says something they agree with. Then they go crazy. You see! You see! He/she agrees! Isn’t he/she nice? Isn’t he/she clever?”

    Hey, left wingers are just as bad whenever a military bloke says something they agree with.

    Insert high-minded sentiments on how we must judge everyone as an individual as required.

    Homer Simpson, as so often, said it best.

    Lisa: “While I was gone I got some really good advice from Paul and Linda McCartney.”
    Homer: “Rock stars. Is there anything they don’t know? ”

  • Yes, James, but he’s an outspoken critic of the BP oil spill – are you outspoken enough?

  • Stonyground: but if he weren’t Benny from Abba, his opinion on whatever would have remained forever unknown to the world.

    Oh, and what Homer said.

  • Then they go crazy. You see! You see! He/she agrees! Isn’t he/she nice? Isn’t he/she clever? Etc. Sadly, few actors now do this.

    No Brian, not guilty. Indeed I never even followed the link in the original article so I have no idea what this Ian Somerhalder actually thinks beyond being “an outspoken critic of the BP oil spill in the Gulf” (presumably in contrast to all the others saying “Well golly gosh, that oil spill was COOL, we need more of them!”).

    For all I know he is a card carrying laissez faire libertarian who sleeps with a copy of “Human Action” next to his bed, has “Fred Hayek is my home boy” tattooed on his inner thigh and thinks we need more nuclear power plants and armed bears, although I rather doubt it.

    Thing is, I don’t really care what Ian Somerhalder thinks about anything. Hell, I never even heard of him before yesterday and I doubt I will be googling for his boyish charms or wit and wisdom tomorrow either.

    But that is beside the point because what I find so comical, and I suspect ‘Bell Curve’ thinks so as well, is not what this guy said but that a bunch of kleptocrats on Capitol Hill were sitting there no doubt nodding sagely with beatific smiles on their faces listening to pretty boy and pretending they think it actually matters.

  • Verity

    James Waterton – That was hysterical! (in a good way) – and I was, like, totally blown away by your insights on oil spílls and think they deserve a wider hearing. Too many people these days have a knee jerk reaction to oil spills. Sure, they say they don’t like them … but they do not take the time to appear on national TV and offer technical and political insights on them as you do.

  • Chuck6134

    The US has a long sad history of actors being portrayed as having something intelligent to say on issues. As others have noted in showed recently with the leftist actor Colbert at Congress testifying about illegal aliens. We’ve had actor(tresses) testifying as experts on farm workers and textile workers too…never mind issues like gun control and political free speech.

    The media only reports what they think the masses want to hear/see. They are probably right that for many people, these fluff actors are more real then the people they claim to represent.

  • Swede

    I, for one, can’t wait to hear what else this twat thinks on any number of things.

    Does he have a newsletter?

  • Hello O skeptical ones! It’s Ian Somerhalder here (or twat in the aforementioned post) and I just wanted to let you know that we are ALL critics of the whole BP fiasco but it’s time now to help our GOVT move into newer, renewable methods of creating a using energy. I’m only here as a conduit for the voices that aren’t and should be heard. I agree with you, “who in the hell cares what an actor thinks?!”
    The reality is, that if that actor thinks along the same lines as many others who’s voices aren’t heard in helping our energy crisis and that actor spends much of his/her time and resources doing it i say let em… Bringing people and problems to be solved is a healthy thing for our society.
    What are you doing about it other than complaining? Do you donate time, money or energy into it? I beg you to ask yourself that question.
    Good day!
    PS Trying to take Colbert seriously is difficult, he did that to actually bring awareness to problems with illegal farm workers- that was the point. So, how many more people know about the issue now as a result of him testifying (if you can call it that? Yup you guessed right- MANY!
    Don’t have a “Newletter” yet, Ill look into it.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    I disagree with James Waterton: I like oil spills, and I rather like the pretty colours they make on the surface of the ocean when the light shines on them in a certain way……

    Okay, I’ll behave.

  • Well if that actually is Ian Somerhalder commenting above, he is to be commended on his bravery stepping into the anti-statist libertarian lion’s den smelling faintly of juicy steak 😀

    Nothing personal Ian, as I said I do not really hold your views against you because I only have vague notions what they actually are. It is more the fact that you are being used as a political sock puppet that tickles my funny bone and why the comment by ‘Bell Curve’ gave me a LOL.

    That said, Ian, the sheer number of actors and actresses declaiming in support of massively statist ‘solutions’ to all manner of problems does give people in these here parts a certain reflexive distrust and dislike of folks in your line of work.

  • J.M. Heinrichs

    Doesn’t an oil spill stimulate local employment?
    … and fit the description of a “shovel-ready project”?

    One should always consider the brighter side and whistle.


  • Laird

    “Doesn’t an oil spill stimulate local employment?”

    Yup, just like a broken window.

  • Richard Thomas

    In this case, where “local” means a tourist area, fears of the oil spill affecting people’s vacations meant it had a detrimental effect on local employment. It probably stimulated alternate vacation destination employment though.

  • I strongly doubt that’s the actor writing in above. But if it is you, Ian, you were really ringing my bell at this point:

    it’s time now to help our GOVT move into

    A padded cell? An iron maiden? The path of a jet-propelled road roller on full thrust?

    newer, renewable methods of creating a using energy.

    Nope. Lost me.

  • James Waterton

    Oh oh, I think I may have transgressed against the Communications Act 2003 in my comment above.

  • llamas

    Ian Somerhalder wrote:

    ” . . .but it’s time now to help our GOVT move into newer, renewable methods of creating a using energy. . . .”

    . . . because we’ve all marvelled at the effective and efficient ways that Government has succeeded in energy policy in the past.

    If you want ‘newer, renewable methods of creating and using energy’ (leaving aside the fact that no-one, not even President Obama, can create energy) then the first thing that you need to learn, from direct observation of past performance, is that Government is the absolute-worst way of getting to your goals.

    Government is unconcerned with science and the parcticalities of daily life, but is, however, a complete and total slave to political forces. And so Government has a long and well-documented history of assiduously promoting the very least-effective approaches to energy policy. Whether it be nuclear power (incredibly effective, but we’re agin it) or something like corn ethanol (amazingly ineffective, but we’re for it), it’s a virtual certainty that Government will always do the very worst thing when it comes to energy policy.

    Why you would believe that the Government is the best agency to improve our approaches to getting and using energy is just beyond me. These are the clowns that gave you the ‘water-saving’ toilet that doesn’t work as a toilet and the mercury-laced lightbulb that doesn’t work as a lightbulb – but they’re somehow imbued with wisdom when it comes to energy policy? They will vote you into the dark if it suits their political purposes – they did that very thing in California, less than a decade ago. You are old enough to remember this first hand (if you are who you say you are) – did you learn nothing from it?



  • if just one actor says something they agree with. Then they go crazy. You see! You see! He/she agrees! Isn’t he/she nice? Isn’t he/she clever?

    Well, I’m not that fawning, but I must admit that it does impress me when an actor airs a political opinion that demonstrates he isn’t a shallow thinking and utterly self absorbed, self entitled, out-of-touch, let-them-eat-cake champagne socialist. When this happens, I generally am pleasantly surprised, as I’m sure it would be very easy to become these things in a place like Hollywood. For this reason I do like to discover that people such as Clint Eastwood, John Malkovich and Robert Downey Jr – to name a few of the most prominent non-idiotarians in Hollywood – still have their feet on the ground. It’s impressive.

  • Tory anarchist

    Reminds me of the line given to Janeane Garofalo in the incomparably awesome movie “Team America: World Police”:

    “As actors, it is our responsibility to read the newspapers, and then say what we read on television like it’s our own opinion.”

  • Swede

    Was “twat” too strong?

    Perhaps I should have gone with “tit”.

  • Verity

    James Waterton – don’t forget Bruce Willis, a very fine right-thinking dude.

  • jsallison

    The ‘wisdom’ of ‘actors’? Oxymoron alert!!!

  • Ian Somerhalder played Boone Carlyle on “Lost.” Boone was killed off because John Locke (Terry Quinn) prodded him into a risky situation. Make up your own jokes.