In a recent Penn Schoen Berland poll for The Hollywood Reporter asking 1,000 registered voters questions about their moviegoing proclivities, the results show some pretty earth-relaxing numbers. Overall, thirty-five percent of Republicans and forty-five percent of Tea Partiers take a celebrity's political orientation into account before plunking down for a ticket, compared to twenty percent of Democrats. And fifty-two percent of Republicans say they've avoided movies based solely on a star's political stance, compared to thirty-six percent of Democrats.
The most polarizing actor for Republicans seems to be the very busy Sean Penn, who prevents about forty percent of that voting bloc from seeing his flicks, while it seems the gun-loving Charlton Heston makes many Democrats want to keep their stinkin' eyeballs away from his films. And interestingly, the gung-ho Michael Moore is given the cold shoulder by twenty-one percent of moviegoing Democrats, his own "people," so to speak. John Pitney, Jr., professor of American politics at Claremont McKenna College, said, "Many Democrats and liberals see Michael Moore in the same way that many Republicans and conservatives see Pat Robertson: as an embarrassing blowhard who makes their own side look bad."
Other findings include the fact that more Democrats see movies at the theater than Republicans, no doubt influenced by Hollywood's liberal reputation (Avatar was seen as the movie with the biggest liberal agenda), and the revelation that Republicans prefer family films like It's a Wonderful Life and The Sound of Music, while Democrats lean towards edgier fare such as Bonnie and Clyde and The Silence of the Lambs. But there is bipartisanship when it comes to favorite genre: both Democrats and Republicans agree that comedy is their first choice. And not only that: it seems a common love for Indiana Jones, popcorn, Clint Eastwood, and Forrest Gump transcends political affiliation. (And, presumably, mom and apple pie as well.)
But the "Kumbaya" goes south when you mention Whoopi Goldberg, George Clooney, Oprah Winfrey, Matt Damon, or Jane Fonda. These names make Republicans shy away from the box office, just as conservative Jon Voight (you know, Angie's dad), has the same anti-catnip effect on Democrats. And Morgan Freeman's recent accusations that the Tea Party engages in melanin-based politics caused a furor, though his Dolphin Tale still finished first in weekend box-office take.