The former “Mary Tyler Moore Show” star is ruffling feathers among conservative commentators over an eight-minute cartoon he narrated for the California Federation of Teachers.
The cartoon, called “Tax the Rich: An Animated Fairy Tale,” borrows from the Occupy Wall Street school of snarky activism, calling out the richest one percent of Americans for their role in the nation’s increasing wealth disparity. In the video, Asner playfully points to a time in our not so distant past when the labor movement fostered a strong middle class and subsequent economic growth.
Fast-forward to today, Asner says in the video, and the “towers of money” built by avaricious rich folk have collapsed, leaving lower- and middle-income Americans scrambling to pick up the pieces while the rich get a government bailout and keep getting richer.
“In 20 years, rich people doubled their share of the land’s income,” Asner says in the cartoon. “Schools, public safety, roads, parks libraries, pubic transportation all went into decline. The rich people didn’t care. They bought their own teachers, police, garbage collectors and transportation.”
At one point in the cartoon, a rich person standing atop a pile of money urinates on a group of poor people. Needless to say, the right-wing media was not amused.
The video spread quickly around the Internet on Tuesday, and conservative pundits were livid, with Fox News’s Sean Hannity blasting the video as “propaganda” and a “disgusting hit piece” on his Tuesday evening talk show.
Over at NewsBusters, Noel Sheppard said the video was indicative of the hypocrisy put forth by “the left and their media minions.” “Asner chose not to address how tax revenues at the federal and state level continued to rise during this period, or that the fiscal problems were caused by spending growing at a faster rate than the growth of receipts,” Sheppard wrote. “Liberals always ignore this.”
The video was written and directed by Fred Glass, the CFT’s communications director. Mike Konopacki, a political cartoonist known for tackling pro-labor issues, did the animation. In its description of the video, the CFT says it “explains economic inequality, need for wealthy to pay fair share of taxes.”
The video was uploaded to YouTube by Glass on Nov. 28, and as of Wednesday afternoon it had amassed just over 50,000 views. The piece has also attracted more than 1,100 comments, many from users dismissing it as juvenile and over simplistic. One user posted, “This is the most closed-minded video I’ve ever seen.”
At 83, Ed Asner has been experiencing a revival of sorts. After years of virtual showbiz dormancy, the actor received wide critical acclaim for his voiceover work in the 2009 Pixar film “Up.” He is currently starring on Broadway opposite Paul Rudd in Craig Wright’s “Grace.”
In a 2011 interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Asner described himself as “a socialist.”