For every Ronald Reagan Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jon Voight, Charlton Heston, and a few other prominent conservative Hollywood stars, there are probably more than 50 strongly liberal actors, directors, producers, and other "above the line" categories of filmmakers. The top "below the line" categories of cinematographers and production designers are also heavily liberal.Less creative crew members, such as grips, have political views that are closer to those of the general American voting population.
Posner gives several explanations of the liberality of filmmakers, including their engagement in fantasy projects, their irregular employment, and the prominence of Jews, who are mainly liberal, in the industry. There is an additional consideration of great importance. Whereas most actors and other filmmakers have little interest in tax policy, approaches to Medicare and social security, other domestic economic and political questions, and even in many foreign policy issues (except wars), they are very much concerned about policies regarding personal morals. I believe the single most important reason why so many of these Hollywood creative personnel are opposed to the Republican party, especially to the more conservative members of this party, is that the personal morals of many filmmakers deviate greatly from general norms of the American population.
Creative contributors to films divorce in large numbers, often several times. Many have frequent affairs, often while married, they have children without marriage, they have significant numbers of abortions, have a higher than average presence of gays, especially in certain of the creative categories, who are open about their sexual preferences, they take cocaine and other drugs, and generally they lead a life style that differs greatly from what is more representative of the American public. By contrast, an important base of the Republican Party is against out of wedlock births, strongly pro life and against abortions, against gays, especially those who adopt an publicly gay lifestyle, against affairs while married, and very much oppose the legalization of drugs like cocaine and even marijuana.
It becomes impossible for Hollywood types who adopt these different lifestyles to support a political party that is so openly and prominently critical of important aspects of their way of living. That the majority of the relatively few conservative filmmakers lead more ordinary lifestyles confirms this hypothesis: they tend to be heterosexual, married, have children while married, are less into drugs, and in other ways too have more conventional lifestyles. True, some of the most prominent conservative member of Hollywood, such as Reagan and Voight, have been divorced, but divorce is now more accepted even by most conservative Republicans. After all, Ronald Reagan was a darling of conservative Republicans, and John McCain also has been divorced. Note that below the line members of crews lead more conventional life styles, and so they are less likely to be anti conservatives and against Republicans.
When other issues affect filmmakers more than attacks on their morals, their views often become very different. So while many of the more creative filmmakers consider themselves to be socialists, filmmakers, writers, and other creative types in communist countries were typically very strongly opposed to their governments. The obvious reason is that these governments imposed substantial censorship on the type of films that could be made, and so directly interfered with what filmmakers and writers wanted to do.
Another important factor stressed to me by Guity Nashat Becker is that members of the print and visual media who generally have strongly liberal political views surround actors and other creative contributors to films. Since it is well established that political views are greatly affected by the attitudes of people one interacts with closely, it is not surprising that some of the liberality of the media rub off on actors and others in the filmmaking industry. In addition to their concern about political approaches to personal morality, their association with the media helps make filmmakers anti-business, especially big business, and strongly pro-union.
Do the liberal views of Hollywood stars and leaders have a big affect on the opinions of others? I do not know of any evidence on this, but I suspect they only have a small indirect effect. This is not the result of speeches or other statements of their views-since they usually are not articulate in their extemporaneous comments- but their entertainment at various political functions can help generate enthusiastic audiences. More important probably is that whereas audiences do not go to films unless they enjoy them, anti-business and other liberal views will often be an underlying message of popular films. I doubt of these messages have a large permanent effect on the opinions of the audiences, but some affect is surely possible. So all in all, I believe Hollywood is a very minor contributor to general political views, but I do not think their influence can be fully dismissed.