Movie Star Morality: Clint Eastwood and the Republican Convention

Clint Eastwood has an iconic image as an actor, and is an even better director. But no one would ask him to be a spokesperson for the "Theology of the Body. I teach a contracts case in which one of his former lovers, Sondra Locke, claimed that Warner Brothers hired her as a director on a "pay or play" contract--either they would use her services or pay her fee--without the intention of ever using her at all. Her fee was billed to Eastwood's next movie. It was just a cost of keeping Eastwood's personal life from derailing his professional life.According to the Wikepedia page, Locke's personal life was rocky with him too--she had two abortions and a tubal ligation in four years. And she's just one of many.Now we've all heard about Eastwood's famous skit "The Old Man and the Seat" (as Jon Stewart called it) at the Republican Convention. But what I'm surprised about is that no social conservatives made a peep about the invitation to him to speak there itself. It's not just his personal life. He was the force behind "Million Dollar Baby"--an engrossing movie that appears to endorse euthanasia in very difficult circumstances.Now, I'm not saying he shouldn't have spoken--I myself endorse a broad speakers' policy everywhere, at Catholic universities and at political conventions. What's interesting to me, however, is that even the people who are in favor of vigorous monitoring programs for speakers on life issues didn't raise this as a question AT ALL. And it does seem to be more of a serious question than the skit itself.Why is that? Is it because in our culture, movie stars are like the old Greek gods--normal moral norms just don't apply to them? I've often thought that we could go through Edith Hamilton's book on Greek mythology or Ovid's Metamorphoses and cast various movie stars according to the descriptions of the gods depicted there.

Cathleen Kaveny is the Darald and Juliet Libby Professor in the Theology Department and Law School at Boston College.

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