‘Thompson’s Image Cultivated by Hollywood’ — Another He’s-Just-an-Actor Attack by Media

-By Warner Todd Huston

In “Thompson’s Image Cultivated by Hollywood” we get another MSM attempt to make Fred Thompson seem to be just a hollow, fake actor. The AP offers us an analysis that Thompson’s “image” is just a Hollywood invention and that he had no “conscious decision” in shaping the perception that he exhibits the sort of strong, take charge kind of leadership that Americans might want in a president. Of all the lines of attack they’ve tried thus far, this is the MSMs favorite way to belittle Fred Thompson. This meme has it that Thompson’s acting persona is an invention of Hollywood and that his political life is a reflection of this invented persona, that he capitalized on the illusion to launch a political career — they want to make Thompson out to be a fake. But, in reality, Thompson’s roles are a reflection of his real life persona, not an invention by Hollywood but an amplification of reality by Hollywood.

AP does their level best to make Thompson seem the illusionist…

If Fred Thompson is auditioning for the role of a lifetime, he could hardly be any better prepared.

As Thompson prepares for a likely run for the presidency … his image has been cultivated as much by Hollywood as by his time as a real-life Republican senator in Washington.

Notice how the AP continually links all the less than serious actor euphemisms to Thompson’s campaign and Senate career? His running for president is just “auditioning,” his image “cultivated,” by Hollywood. They insist in seeing Thompson through the lens of a manufactured, Hollywood facade.

The AP tries to cajole readers into viewing Thompson’s political career as a mere byproduct of his acting as opposed to a meritorious result of his real-life actions.

Thompson’s acting career has long been intertwined with his political one. He was first cast by Hollywood in 1985’s “Marie” as himself — an attorney in the true story of a woman who is working at the State Board of Pardons of Tennessee and discovers that the state government is riddled with graft, corruption and even murder.

“There is a strong sense in which Thompson’s popularity as an actor, I think, came in part because he seemed to be able to play the role of what a skillful political leader would seem to have. He appears gruff and strong, a very masculine character, and he’s very certain in the way he pronounces his words and uses his language. So I think there is a reinforcing connection,” said Tom Hollihan, a professor of media and politics the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication.

But, on reflection, one would realize that Thompson’s initial fame was garnered by his work as a lawyer. The acting was the byproduct, not the other way around.

It is certain that Thompson has a “commanding presence” but is this a result of his acting career or is his acting career a result of his real life persona? Clearly, he had this presence before the acting so the acting is incidental to his persona. In fact, how often does he play against type? Never. He doesn’t play against type because he is not as much an “actor” as he is a presence. His “acting” is not an invention, but a reflection. When he is “being” his Arthur Branch-like roles, he is being Fred Thompson.

I am not trying to belittle Thompson’s acting ability because he plays his role well. But Thompson is not the sort of actor that takes on the sort of roles that calls for a subduing of his own personality. His is not the skill of presenting an invented screen image for each film. He is no Johnny Depp, for instance. Thompson plays Thompson in every role. So this “just an actor” claim does not suit him at all. He is just not the sort that presents a manufactured image.

Hollywood reflects Fred Thompson, it does not create him.

But, the AP hasn’t the capability to understand such minutia as their efforts to cast Thompson’s character and image into the land of make believe prevails. In fact, they cannot even give him the benefit of being able to direct his own acting career, presenting him as a mere beneficiary of circumstance.

Whether such roles were a conscious decision on Thompson’s part is another matter.

“Nothing succeeds like success in Hollywood, and if it’s worked well once, casting directors and producers tend to go back to the well again. Actors don’t get to choose their roles. They only get to accept or turn them down. I think it’s less a conscious decision on his part than it is typecasting,” said film critic Leonard Maltin of “Entertainment Tonight.”

See what I mean? To the AP Thompson has just been typecast in a fake role that he has no control over, one that is guided by producers, writers, and magic makers and not one that reflects Thompson’s “conscious decisions” at all. AP just cannot imagine that Thompson could possibility have a hand in such decisions.

And, as a result of the AP’s inability to see Thompson as anything other than a faker sporting a make believe image like anyone else would don a Halloween mask, they cannot imagine anyone else can either.

It’s unclear whether voters nationwide will accept Thompson in a role other than that of an actor.

Unclear? What IS clear, AP, is that Thompson’s candidacy thus far has been the most successful “draft” style candidacy we’ve seen in US politics for decades. He has a large Internet following and has raised several million dollars for his exploratory committee. If that doesn’t show a level of votes coming his way, what does?

Next the AP attempts to turn his positives against him.

Hollihan said the very thing that helps Thompson as an actor could also hurt him.

“The character you play and the character you are cast as has to resonate. That’s the case if you’re casting somebody for a movie or you’re casting somebody for higher office,” he said. “People are so aware that contemporary politics involve media. They are going to be looking for that ongoing related persona.”

So, if America doesn’t see “Arthur Branch” they will turn away from Thompson?

One other thing that AP and the rest of the MSM don’t get. Not every American knows Thompson’s work on “Law & Order.” I, for instance, have never seen Thompson on that TV show because I have never watched a single episode of “Law & Order.” There are more like me than otherwise. We will rate Thompson on what he presents during his campaign, not by what we saw (or didn’t see) on a TV show.

And during that campaign, we will see that Thompson is Thompson. He is not an image conjured up by Hollywood.
Warner Todd Huston’s thoughtful commentary, sometimes irreverent often historically based, is featured on many websites such as newsbusters.org, townhall.com, men’snewsdaily.com and americandaily.com among many, many others. Additionally, he has been a guest on several radio programs to discuss his opinion editorials and current events. He has also written for several history magazines and appears in the new book “Americans on Politics, Policy and Pop Culture” which can be purchased on amazon.com. He is also the owner and operator of publiusforum.com. Feel free to contact him with any comments or questions : EMAIL Warner Todd Huston

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