Take Two®

News and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by A Martínez

Gaza proves a minefield for Hollywood's hashtag activists

by Take Two®

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HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 27: Actors Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz arrive at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards held at the Kodak Theatre on February 27, 2011 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Javier Bardem;Penelope Cruz Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

While the volley of weaponry may have stopped with the current ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, the war of words is still very much alive.

In Hollywood, celebrities of all political persuasion are known to chime in with their opinion on all manner of topics. But the situation in Gaza has proven to be a minefield for Hollywood's hashtag activists.

Tatiana Siegel with the Hollywood Reporter said people in the film industry are loathe to weigh in on topics as controversial and divisive as the Palestinian-Israeli conflict for fear of alienating any group of potential movie-goers.

But several stars have spoken out, with Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem among the most visible. They signed a letter, along with other Spanish film luminaries, condemning the "genocide" in Gaza.

That brought a strong reaction from staunch Israel supporter Jon Voight, who wrote a guest column in the Hollywood Reporter calling them to "hang their heads in shame."

Cruz eventually walked back the "genocide" wording, and many celebrities have been forced to backpedal in the face of negative reaction. Rihanna tweeted "#FreePalestine" only to delete the tweet seven minutes later and call it a "mistake."  Basketball player Dwight Howard did almost the exact same thing, deleting his "#FreePalestine" tweet and apologized, saying he never comments on international politics.

"The publicists quickly intervenes and says, 'What are you thinking going on the record on this?'" said Siegel. "It's just too radioactive." 

Whether taking a controversial stance actually hurts these stars' careers is doubtful, according to Siegel.

"That's something that probably will be debated as long as the Middle East conflict will be debated."

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