California is no stranger to the fight over mandatory vaccinations. Between 2015-2019, SB-277 and SB-276 strengthened government mandates regarding vaccinations as well as legislated stricter guidelines on exemptions. During this time, many prominent Hollywood actors were outspoken in their opposition to these laws. Their efforts failed, and former governor Jerry Brown and current governor Gavin Newsom signed these laws into effect after they were passed overwhelmingly in the state legislature.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic, the mandatory vaccine debate has been raging throughout America. This has led to high-profile social media suspensions, updated “Community Guidelines” regarding the spread of “disinformation,” the de-monetization of scientists who disagree with the conventional wisdom, and the public shaming of those who question vaccine efficacy for a group of vaccines that have only received emergency use authorization from the FDA.
Hollywood has taken a safer approach. The phenomena of “vaccine selfies” has become prominent, propagated most effectively by Hollywood stars and starlets, signaling their virtuous actions as they were “doing their part.” Instagram, Facebook and Twitter have seen a deluge of smiling, perfectly masked Hollywood elites showing the band-aid on their arm to an almost insufferable degree. Thirty of them even signed a UNICEF letter stating, “The pandemic will not be over anywhere until it is over everywhere, and that means getting vaccines to every country, as quickly and equitably as possible.” These actors include your typical activist names: Alyssa Milano, Whoopi Goldberg and Billie Eilish. Few, if any of these actors were known prior to Covid-19 for vaccination activism. But just like #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter campaigns, celebrities flock to followers.
What some people, especially the mainstream media and Democrat politicians, seem to forget is that some of their favorite mouthpieces are part of a group of anti-vaxxers in Hollywood. These are stars who have not only questioned the constitutionality of bills such as SB-276 and SB-277, citing parental choice, but have in the past pushed documentaries such as “Vaxxed,” which suggests that vaccinations lead to autism. Stars such as Jenny McCarthy, Jim Carrey, Jenna Elfman, Robert De Niro, Selma Blair and Bill Maher (among many others) have all publicly come out in some way or another against vaccination legislation or vaccines themselves.
Selma Blair and Jenna Elfman both tweeted in 2015 that parents should have the right to choose whether or not their kids are vaccinated. Just two years ago, Rolling Stone gushed that Jessica Biel had added “another credential on [her] resume: anti-vaccine activist.” They were clear that they weren’t against vaccines in all cases, but rather the mandatory statutes the state of California instituted. This has historically been a moderate position taken by people on both sides of the political spectrum — a sort of “my body, my choice” stance. Yet all these stars have remained silent on the Covid-19 vaccinations. They have also been generally apolitical as of late in perhaps the most political year in American history.
The most outspoken anti-vaccination stars are Jenny McCarthy, Jim Carrey and Robert De Niro. Jenny McCarthy made allegations in her books and interviews that her son Evan became autistic following the vaccinations he received when he was two years old. Jim Carrey, former boyfriend of McCarthy, said in a 2015 Huffington Post article something that, if uttered today in reference to Covid-19, would get him banned from social media altogether: “In this growing crisis, we cannot afford to blindly trumpet the agenda of the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) or vaccine makers. Now more than ever, we must resist the urge to close this book before it’s been written.” This article has since been removed from the Huffington Post website stating “public health” reasons.
Lastly, Robert De Niro in 2016 went on the Today show and encouraged people to watch the documentary Vaxxed, which explores the effects of vaccination and how it might lead to autism. Regarding the CDC’s position on vaccines being completely safe, the Taxi Driver said, “They [the CDC] say they’ve addressed it and it’s a closed issue. But it doesn’t seem to be.” His views remained similar through at least 2017 when he was interviewed on Fox News, questioning the science behind vaccinations. All of these actors have been silent on Covid 19 vaccination, which is surprising because De Niro took many opportunities over the past 4 years to offer his angry opinions during award shows, SNL skits and numerous guest spots on CNN and MSNBC.
The hypocrisy award for celebrity anti-vaxxer goes to comedian and host of Real Time Bill Maher. Historically a strong opponent to not only mandatory vaccinations but the use of them in general, Bill Maher received his Fauci-Ouchi this year… and then contracted Covid. The Real Time host said during the Swine Flu epidemic of 2009, “Why would you let [the government] be the ones to stick a disease into your arm? I would never get a swine flu vaccine, or any vaccine. I don’t trust the government, especially with my health.” His tweet about it was more to the point, “If u get a swine flu shot, ur an idiot.”
If u get a swine flu shot ur an idiot.
— Bill Maher (@billmaher) September 26, 2009
Clearly, the times have changed for the controversial comedian. He has now claimed the vaccine probably helped him with his Covid diagnosis. I asked Maher: Has he changed his mind on vaccinations? Was it a mandatory rule sent out by HBO that he be vaccinated before returning to set? My request for clarity went unanswered by Maher and his representatives.
These currently silent but historically outspoken anti-vaxxers of Tinseltown present the cultural problem that envelops Hollywood. Their activism is strictly limited to causes that attract further fame without the typical costs associated with being an activist. They jump at any chance to stake out politically correct positions but disappear as soon as those very same positions risk reputational harm. Their commitment is as shallow as California’s reservoirs.
Clearly, their friends in the DNC and the media alike are uninterested in asking these stars if their positions have changed in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is relevant that all of them are anti-Trump and stand with the Democrats on most issues. Why? These stars remain tools for the political establishment to push their agenda as their silent hypocrisy continues its malignance. Until they are willing to stand up in the courage of their convictions and remain consistent under public scrutiny, they remain actors turned activists and suffer from Hollywood’s unique pandemic of actorvism.