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Can Republicans Survive In Hollywood?

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Republicans haven't always been pariahs in Hollywood. In fact, the widening of the US political chasm can be traced back to the White House's first movie star President, Ronald Reagan.

Since then, a kind of reverse McCarthyism has developed in Hollywood, with vocal right wingers effectively exiled from the notoriously liberal industry.

Next on the chopping block is James Woods, who carved out a reputation as a fearless character actor in the 1980s, starring in art house hits such as David Cronenberg's Videodrome and Oliver Stone's Salvador.

Evidently affronted by Fox News whipping boy Barack Obama, Woods recently launched a scathing attack on Twitter, calling the President an 'abomination'.

This uncompromising assault, typical of 21st Century Republicans, prompted a fellow Twitter user to ask whether the actor was worried about ruining his career. Woods responded by saying: "I don't expect to work again. I think Barack Obama is a threat to the integrity and future of the Republic. My country first."

Woods is actually still a registered Democrat, but in reality, he is about as liberal as an Alaskan seal clubber.

It is far too early to tell whether his inflammatory comments will harm his acting career. Also, the Oscar nominee has already made the transition to television, like so many talented actors in the last decade.

However, Woods is wrong if he thinks being on the right means career suicide in Hollywood. There are actually quite a few celebrity Republicans, such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kelsey Grammer, Bruce Willis and Tonight Show host Jay Leno, who continue to be highly successful despite their political leanings.

The reason for their longevity and continued success is not down to luck, but rather restraint. Quite simply, Hollywood stars who support smaller government and lower taxes, and refrain from jingoistic tantrums and name calling, have found their careers to be largely unaffected.

Of course, self restraint and acting don't always go together. Just ask Jon Voight. The Academy Award winner, and father of Angelina Jolie, enjoyed a glittering career, appearing in some of American cinema's finest films, including the iconic Midnight Cowboy, Deliverance and Runaway Train.

But, Voight's right wing credentials were solidified when he responded to criticism of President George W. Bush by contending that 'defacing the president' was akin to defacing the country. Voight has since called President Obama an anti-semite, a communist and likened him to the Antichrist, resulting in a veritable career meltdown.

Another well known casualty is Apocalypse Now writer John Milius. Famed for his exuberant personality and skill for creating macho characters, Milius was also noted for his love of firearms and his contrary political views

By the time the maverick filmmaker made the ridiculous pro-war movie Red Dawn, studios were growing tired of his antics.

Milius has likened his exile to the Hollywood blacklisting of the 1950s. In reality, the director ostracised himself with a series of irrational political statements and box-office bombs.

Luckily for James Woods, his criticisms of Obama, while hardly measured, could never be considered extremist. But, if he does find himself on a Fox News sofa, talking about how the President may be a Muslim, he can kiss his career in the mainstream goodbye.