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Only a quarter of Americans believe Hollywood has 'positive influence' on American society: new poll

Respondents labeled movie industry politics "liberal" (56%) over "conservative" (8%) by a ratio of 7-1 in new Rasmussen Reports poll.

Published: September 20, 2021 12:11pm

Updated: September 20, 2021 11:44pm

Hollywood stars want to change the world in between red-carpet strolls and contract squabbles.

Celebrities, buoyed by their robust social media accounts and reporters hungry for headlines, promote any number of causes, including, for example:

  • Leonardo DiCaprio, director James Cameron: Climate Change
  • Alyssa Milano, Amy Schumer: #MeToo
  • Matt Damon: Clean Water in Africa

Yet a new Rasmussen Reports poll shows the public isn't impressed by celebrity activism, the industry's overall impact on culture, or both. In fact, it suggests stars may be doing more harm than good for their preferred causes. The poll, conducted via phone and web-based queries between Sept. 7-8, found a schism between Hollywood and the body politic. The survey asked 1,000 respondents two questions: 

  • Generally speaking, do movies and the movie industry have a positive or a negative impact on American society?
  • How would you describe the politics of Hollywood — conservative, moderate or liberal?

Respondents noted the industry's progressive tendencies (56% dubbed Hollywood "liberal"), hardly a shock given how celebrities rallied to support Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden during the last two presidential elections. Just 8% claimed Hollywood leaned to the right. 

More telling, though, is how the public views Hollywood's shadow over the American landscape. Barely more than one in four adults said the industry had a "positive influence" on the country.

The poll’s margin of sampling error was +/- 3 percentage points

That response captures more than just Hollywood's activist side. It includes the content flowing from the industry, from the shows we stream on Netflix to the films shown at the local movie house.

It's hard to say if respondents judged Hollywood by its content or political positioning.

Some Hollywood activism is decidedly neutral, and positive. During tragedies, stars routinely rally to raise funds for those directly impacted, think disaster relief efforts or supporting food banks at the dawn of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stars also push progressive talking points on and off screens, like recent pro-choice efforts aimed at legislation in both Georgia and Texas.

The poll comes as the stars' preferred presidential candidate, Joe Biden, finds his poll numbers cratering after several high-profile failures, including the Taliban's return to power in Afghanistan amid the U.S. troop withdrawal.

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