No free speech for Freeman

Morgan Freeman must have thought the days when a black actor’s right to express an opinion was restricted belonged in the distant past. Apparently that’s not the case, as a major investor in Dark Knight Rises has demanded that Time Warner not allow Freeman to express any political opinions during promotion for the film.

Freeman appeared on Piers Morgan last year, when he suggested that the Tea Party movement in US politics was racist in its attitudes to President Obama. David Ridenour, a shareholder in Time Warner, and backer of a rightwink thinktank, has asked if Freeman will be allowed to repeat his opinions.

A spokesman for Ridenour asked, "What specific steps will Time Warner take to ensure that Mr Freeman avoids such divisive and insulting words while promoting his next Warner Bros film, The Dark Knight Rises?"

The Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes replied "Not much", going on to suggest that political opinions would have little commercial effect on the success of the film. Freeman has enough of a reputation not to have to worry overmuch about this kind of threat. The development might not have realistic chances of curtailing Freeman’s freedom to attack the right-wing in America, but it might have a stronger impact on smaller concerns than Time-Warner.

If financial support for movies relies on actors and directors keeping any left-of-centre political affiliations to themselves, the result could be a Hollywood industry that is even more bland and reactionary than it is already. On the other hand, a marked drift to the right could resurrect Mel Gibson’s career.

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