…the casting of Ben Affleck as Batman in the sequel to Man of Steel. From his twitter feed:
“@SenatorLeahy: Ben’s a great pick for #Batman & a New Englander to boot. I guess that means I’m out of the running…”
In case you missed it, one of Leahy’s well-known eccentricities is that he’s a huge Batman fan. In fact, he even made cameo appearances in each installment of Christopher Nolan’s recent trilogy and, in The Dark Knight, had the unique thrill of having Heath Ledger hold a knife up to his face.
Leahy isn’t much of an actor, and I don’t think he would make it through many Hollywood auditions, but it’s one of the perks of his job. On Capitol Hill, he is one of Hollywood’s biggest friends. He supported the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) last year, and publicly condemned the “knee-jerk” opposition to the controversial bill that was Hollywood’s top legislative priority last year. Then, late last year after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, he promised to hold hearings on the role of the media in perpetuating gun violence. As the chair of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, he had the ability to do just that. Leahy did hold hearings on gun violence, but he never invited a representative of the film, video game, or television industries.Yes, the senator has a close relationship with Hollywood’s power players, but it’s not just because he’s a movie buff. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship. Over the last five years, Hollywood has been the second largest contributor to Leahy’s re-election campaign, with the legal industry being the only one to contribute more. And it gets worse: Time Warner has contributed the most of any Hollywood entity, more than $62,000. Time Warner, of course, is the parent company of Warner Brothers, the studio that owns the Batman property and is producing Man of Steel 2.So what’s the point? None of this is illegal, but it is indicative of a flawed system. I don’t mind that Leahy praises the casting of Affleck to support his friends in Hollywood, but we should be aware of this relationship because it does impact our lives in other ways, i.e. SOPA and the role of the media in gun violence. So whenever you see Sen. Leahy praising Hollywood, keep in mind that he is protecting the industry and – even more specifically – the very studio that keeps him employed.
While the casting choice is being treated as a sign of the apocalypse by movie writers all over the internet, Warner Brothers must feel good knowing that they have the approval of maybe the most important Batman fan of all.