Ben Affleck Goes on NPR to Complain About Overpaid CEOs -- Not Overpaid Movie Stars

On Tuesday's Morning Edition, actor Ben Affleck was selling his new movie about corporate layoffs, Company Men, and anchorman Steve Inskeep carefully led the left-wing actor onto a soapbox to lecture about the immorality of American capitalism and financiers who do nothing but "move money back and forth":

INSKEEP: There's a line in Company Men that's staying with me. Tommy Lee Jones is at a corporate conference table. Someone else at the conference table is discussing their plans to lay off a bunch of workers. And nearly all the workers being laid off are older, which could be construed as being wrong or illegal. Someone at the table says: "Oh, no. This is going to pass legal scrutiny." And Jones responds: "I always thought we aimed for a little higher standard than that."

AFFLECK: That speaks so perfectly to people's feelings about our country. It's like it's just about getting by, or people can like let people go if they can get away with it, that there's no deeper sense of right or wrong. The banks shouldn't -- people shouldn't make such a giant profit off just moving money back and forth. And CEOs' pay shouldn't be 200 times the average worker. It used to be nine times.

NPR didn't have the contrarian populist toughness to ask about whether that sentiment about overpayment counts for movie stars that make $250,000 for simply showing up at a casino grand opening.

But then, Affleck somehow this resentment of "giant profits" and overpaid CEOs is universal, and is shared by the Tea Party:

Okay, maybe it's legal and maybe it passes muster with shareholders. But there's something about us that fundamentally feels it isn't right. And I think that's the frustration that you feel on people speaking out from the left. I think it's the same frustration you hear from Tea Party activists. And that tells you that it's common to the entire spectrum of American people. We have a deep sense that what's happening is wrong and unethical and that we are in decline because we've lost our moral compass.

Tea Party people have a sense of America in decline, and unethical leadership -- but they were protesting in Washington, not outside a factory, or an overpaid Hollywood actor's house. Earlier in the interview, Affleck joked that if he were remaking Armageddon, he would have had an easier time financing his new movie, but the money people had seen the Iraq-war movies tank over and over again, and weren't that interested in a depressing movie about layoffs:

INSKEEP: The movie "The Company Men" features many stars, including Tommy Lee Jones, Maria Bello, Chris Cooper, Kevin Costner. Yet Affleck told us it was hard to find financing.

AFFLECK: There's some nervousness about making a movie about people who have lost their jobs, because the knee-jerk reaction is, oh, well, nobody wants to see that. And I think the subject matter was a tremendous stumbling block. Some people likened it to Iraq war movies. When Iraq was the thing in the national consciousness that was the most painful, a lot of people wanted to avert their gaze. And people thought, well, this is going to be the same kind of thing. And so there were a lot of concerns.

Now, I still did get it financed, but it wasn't - you know, if it had been about an asteroid crashing into the planet, I think they would have had a much easier time.

Movies NPR Morning Edition Ben Affleck Steve Inskeep
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