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American Actors and Musicians Pay for Antiwar Stance


The Age, Los Angeles, Apr. 4, 2003

"American actors and musicians are discovering that openly criticising the war can have a hefty price tag. Sales of the Dixie Chicks C.D. Home fell more than 40 per cent after lead singer Natalie Maines made off-the-cuff remarks during a concert in London that she was 'ashamed' to hail from the same state as President George Bush - Texas. And Madonna has pulled the U.S. release of a new video [American Life] rife with anti-war imagery, including images of transvestite soldiers, Iraqi children and a grenade being lobbed at a lookalike of Mr. Bush."
"Musicians are not alone in this. Actress Susan Sarandon, a well-known political activist, was recently told she would not be appearing as scheduled at a charity function in Florida because of fears it could cause divisions in the community. Dustin Hoffman, who was outspoken about the war during an appearance at an event in Berlin, later cancelled a pacifist speech he was due to make in Los Angeles after receiving threatening emails and phone calls. Sean Penn said his opposition to the war cost him a film role when he refused to assure producer Steve Bing that he would not continue to speak out. What is happening, says Penn, is similar to the blacklists of the McCarthy era in the 1950s."
"Viewers called for the sacking of actor Martin Sheen, who plays a U.S. president in the television series The West Wing, for his anti-war stance. Before the start of the war, Sheen launched a commercial asking for more time for U.N. weapons inspectors. He has not backed down, leading a group of female anti-war protesters in Los Angeles carrying bloodstained children's clothing and grim pictures of Iraqi women and children. About 300 people demonstrated outside U.S. Government offices and about 15 were arrested for blocking access, witnesses said. With peace songs in the air, Sheen, 62, filed past a federal building carrying a cross. He has been in T.V. ads urging viewers to try to stop the war."