Like most Hollywood types, Ben Affleck is a strong supporter of the Democrat Party. Like most Hollywood types, Ben Affleck voted for Obama in 2008. And like most Hollywood types, Ben Affleck will vote for Obama again in 2012. However, unlike most Hollywood types, Ben Affleck is actually beginning to question the nutritional value of the standard issue Hollywood “Kool-Aid.”
In a recent interview to promote his new movie, Argo, Affleck made several statements that actually made sense about the current political climate in America. Affleck made it clear that he is disillusioned with Obama. He said, “I voted for Obama last time although he got to be all things to all people then. And now he's got a record, which makes it really different… I obviously have more complicated feelings.” I’m not so sure why Affleck thinks it should be “obvious” that he has “more complicated feelings” about Obama now that he has a four-year record. The vast majority of Affleck’s Hollywood colleagues don’t think it is so “obvious”; they are supporting Obama as blindly as they did four years ago, regardless of the “record.”
What was of particular interest in Affleck’s interview though, was his assessment of Mitt Romney. He admits, due to his lack of enthusiasm with Obama, that the Republicans “really had a chance to win.” This is far more of an admission than one might realize. Reading between the lines, this is Affleck essentially saying that he had hoped that the Republicans would have put up a better candidate than Romney. Affleck continues:
“[The Republicans] ended up with like a sort of Mike Dukakis, Al Gore, Bob Dole type—who just couldn't get people to see him as a real person somehow. Romney just had such trouble coming off as just like the kind of person you see at the grocery store. And I truly believe that has cost him the election.”
Affleck should know a thing a two about a “real person”; he is, after all, a professional actor—he knows bad acting when he sees it.
And this is the real problem with modern presidential elections: they have little to do with actual policies and political doctrines, and have everything to do with presentation and style; it’s all about shine rather than substance. In other words, American politics has become just like Hollywood itself—plastic people with perfect hair and white teeth mouthing meaningless statements about topics that actually matter. It doesn’t matter so much what is said; it only matters who said it best.
Affleck is beginning to see through the “style” of his candidate, yet he still can’t get over the lack of style with Romney. And in this regard, Affleck is similar to most American voters. The majority of voters will cast their vote in November not because of political policies, but because of marketing techniques. Yard signs, television and radio ads, and email forwards will have more to do with determining who the next president will be, than the three public debates could ever dream of having. Affleck is beginning to see through the veneer of his own candidate, yet he still can’t “buy into” the marketing of Mitt Romney as a “real” human being. On this point, Ben Affleck is absolutely correct. We will soon know if the humanizing efforts of the Romney/Ryan campaign are effective; but as it stands right now, they are severely lacking.