After four seasons of watching him play a highly emotional afterlife architect on the sitcom The Good Place, I’m ready to call Ted Danson an acting genius. Week after week he beguiled me with the way he used a sweeping arm or an elegant hand flourish to punctuate his extremely funny delivery. Because I grew up watching Danson on Cheers, I took him for granted as a pop culture fixture but never expected to love him as much as I do now. When I saw that Ted had been arrested at a climate protest in October, my activist heart fluttered. Imagine, a brilliant artist and a comrade — what a mensch!
A few months later, when I saw Danson declare himself a Bloomberg supporter on Instagram, my reaction was the same one I have any time a liberal star posts cringe-inducing political statements, “The celebs are mostly dumb about this stuff and we can’t take it to heart.” Maintaining low expectations for rich, famous people’s politics is how I’m able to continue adoring them as a fan, and I recommend you do the same.
“But we hate Bloomberg!” you may be hollering right now. Oh yes, comrade. I thoroughly detest Mike Bloomberg. And now that he’s running for president I’ve learned a great deal more about this racist, misogynistic pig beyond his stop-and-frisk policy (which should be automatically disqualifying). I firmly believe that anyone supporting Bloomberg oughta know better, but my antipathy toward his supporters depends on which of the three types they are:
- Are they the kind of low-information voter who assumes Bloomberg can wallop Trump and be a big improvement on the current administration? If so, there’s a chance you can dissuade this supporter by presenting more information (but given the amount of info already out there, we are quickly exiting the grace period for ignorance).
- Are they getting paid by Bloomberg? He pays “grassroots organizers” $2,500 a month to say nice things about him on social media and in text messages. He pays staffers extremely well. This sort of supporter isn’t passionate in their endorsement. I guess you might call them sell-outs, but if they’re broke and just really need that money, I don’t judge much. If they’re a rich celeb or (worse) an influential political figure, I judge more.
- Are they backing Bloomberg because they think he can beat Bernie and they don’t want their taxes to go up? This person is a class enemy and we should revel in defeating both them and their terrible candidate.
My guess is that Ted is a mix of all three — too dopey to understand how similar Bloomberg and Trump are, probably received some kind of payment from the campaign, and rich enough that he’d like to avoid paying way more under a Sanders tax plan (Danson’s net worth = $80,000,000). In other words, he is a political lost cause and a class enemy. But his support is probably shallow and I don’t expect him to make any serious public attempts to thwart the Sanders campaign. If he did I’d quickly add him to my official “cancelled” celeb list, alongside once-beloved sex offenders (Louis CK) and bigots (Roseanne).
In my experience, upper middle class and rich white liberals who support centrist politicians aren’t hateful. They simply have no idea how most normal people suffer under both Republican and Democratic establishments, whether due to medical debt, college debt, low wages, or unaffordable housing. They’re oblivious to the threats immigrant communities face, or how our criminal justice system preys upon Black communities. They probably assume that something will be done about the climate crisis because they haven’t been inconvenienced by it yet. They loathe Trump for being crass, embarrassing, and so obviously corrupt. But they don’t think much about the harm his administration inflicts on more vulnerable communities. Now multiply that obliviousness by the experience of being a Hollywood star since the early 1980s and the cluelessness increases twenty fold. What on earth would Danson know of our problems?
So I wouldn’t be too sad about your fav celeb backing Biden, Buttigieg, or Bloomberg. On the other hand, it is perfectly acceptable to love your fav one hundred times harder if they get behind Bernie. “Hmm, isn’t that hypocritical?” you may wonder. Not at all! Bernie is the candidate for those who understand that most people are getting screwed by both the Dem and GOP establishment and that we need major change. So when Cardi B talks about how her cousin is getting crushed by student loan debt, or Dick Van Dyke laments our terrible, for-profit healthcare system, you know you’re dealing with those rare unicorn celebs who’ve maintained some perspective about the realities we commoners face. And considering that Dick Van Dyke has been rich and famous way longer than I’ve been alive, I think that’s pretty goddamn remarkable.
So in short, I still love both my sitcom kings and will continue watching both The Good Place and The Dick Van Dyke Show reruns with untainted joy. But every time I see Rob Petrie stumble over that ottoman, my heart will beat a little faster knowing that at 94 years old, Dick Van Dyke endorsed our first viable democratic socialist presidential candidate. “Oh, Rob!” indeed.