Back to Cynthia Nixon, TV star (Miranda on Sex and the City to you) turned would-be governor of the great state of New York.
On this site, we’ve already discussed the other self-identified socialist star of the hour, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose upset victory in the Democratic primary for a Bronx congressional district, made her a nationwide media sensation (and who has, as it happens, endorsed Nixon’s run). Since her win, Ocasio-Cortez has shown in innumerable interviews that she’s shockingly ignorant about basic facts of history and current events – in short, definitely not ready for prime time. But she’s only 28 years old. Her ignorance is forgivable – or, at least, more forgivable than it is in a woman twice her age.
Nixon is 52. How could a 52-year-old woman be so naive about the reality of socialism? Well, if you look through her background, the answer seems pretty clear. The daughter of an unemployed radio guy and a woman who worked on the TV game show To Tell the Truth, Nixon has been acting since she was 12, “often taking time away from school to perform in film and on stage.” It’s not hard to believe that she missed a lot of classes.
Her education, then, consisted largely of performing in a variety of films, plays, TV shows, and TV movies. To scan the list of early credits on her ImdB page is to imagine the ways in which these productions might have helped shape her picture of the world. The 1982 TV movie My Body, My Child argued for the morality of abortion. Robert Altman’s O.C. And Stiggs was an indictment of middle-class American life disguised as a teen comedy. The 1988 miniseries The Murder of Mary Phagan was about a factory worker convicted of murder and lynched in Georgia in 1915. Tanner ’88 recounted a noble left-wing Democrat’s failed run for president.
We’re not suggesting that acting in a movie or play means you share its writer’s opinions; we’re simply saying that it seems reasonable to posit that a young, spottily educated actor will inevitably be shaped by the ideologies that underpin the works in which she appears and which she spends weeks memorizing and (in the case of plays) weeks or months performing over and over again.
Not that you have to buy that theory. All you need to do is be aware that Nixon, an actress who has been praised frequently for her intelligent interpretations of characters, is less intelligent when it comes to real-life politics than when it comes to portraying persons other than herself. Of course, when it comes to that, she’s got a lot of company in Hollywood. Perhaps when you spend the most important, or at least the most intense, parts of your life in a totally pretend world, you’re not going to be particularly well informed about how the real world works, or well qualified to make pronouncements about how the real world should be run.