Here is a list of facts about Chris Pratt: In 2008, he donated $250 to then-presidential hopeful Barack Obama. In 2010, he gave $500 to Democrat Barbara Boxer. He attends Hillsong Church, a celebrity hotspot which has also been repeatedly criticized for its homophobic teachings and practices. He is married to the daughter of one of California’s most incompetent Republican governors, actor turned public works destroyer Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Once known entirely as the somewhat charming breakout buffoon of NBC’s flagship comedy Parks and Recreation, Pratt’s stature has grown through his turn to action flicks, requiring a buff physique and Disney-approved visage.
As his career has blossomed, that blank canvas where his politics might exist has become a hotly contested battleground for America’s premiere every-dude turned action star. He exists on lists across the internet as one of Hollywood’s conservatives, despite no definitive evidence.
Pratt has made few gestures at cementing a political brand. While Hollywood has emerged from every possible news media orifice to demand we all vote, Chris Pratt has sat out fundraising events with co-stars and voting drives attended by former coworkers. On Instagram, the actor even composed a wrenching soliloquy about voting... for his movie Onward in the People’s Choice Awards.
With all that’s going on in the world it is more important than ever that you vote. Just ask any celebrity. They will tell you. Every day. Several times a day. To vote. But me? I will tell you EXACTLY who to vote for. #onward The heroes before us did not spill their blood only to have their sacrifices wasted by your apathy. The upcoming 2020 People’s Choice Awards is the most consequential vote in the history of mankind times a million infinity. Vote for #Onward for family movie of the year. Or else. You WILL die. No hyperbole. Click the link in my bio. Let your voice be heard.
Jokes about elections are a particularly sore spot, judging by how the post was lambasted across social media. The ill-timed bit coincided with the scandalous news that Pratt would not be involved with a voting drive featuring many of the most notable Avengers. While “Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Paul Rudd, Mark Ruffalo, Don Cheadle, and Zoe Saldana will join Sen. Kamala Harris to participate in a grassroots fundraiser” for Joe Biden’s campaign, according to the Hollywood Reporter, Pratt would notably sit out the event. (Or he wasn’t invited.) Just last month, Pratt was also missing at a Parks and Recreation reunion in support of the Wisconsin Democratic Party.
According to the scholars at Twitter.com, these data points obviously mean that Chris Pratt is a Republican. How couldn’t he be? Look at his church; look at who he married. Remember when he said there wasn’t enough representation for white men?
The facts, however, tell a slightly more nuanced tale of Pratt’s political leanings.
According to information gathered entirely from an extensive search of his internet activity, Mr. Chris Pratt is not an avowed Republican, rather his politics seem informed by something much more apathetic and cynical.
Frankly, I’m not sure the truth is much better.
At the onset of this brief investigation, it’s important to note that recently, Pratt’s wife Katherine Schwarzenegger unleashed a series of Instagram Stories deriding Trump’s coronavirus response, and digging into his supporters. While she has “always been somebody who is super respectful of people’s choices to support whoever they want to support, especially politically,” Schwarzenegger
said she doesn’t understand “how you can support an individual like that.” An anti-Trump, yet vaguely non-partisan answer from a former Governor’s kid. Yet these Instagram Stories came days after the initial wave of “backlash” against Pratt’s Biden sidestep. Considering the mounting speculation against her husband, her response reads as planned.
Let me keep this in my back pocket, for now.
So, where to begin. I think I’ll start with Twitter. On February 3, 2012, Pratt tweeted a puzzling joke about Republican primary candidate Mitt Romney:
Then, on March 3, 2012, he derided coverage of the Republican primary in the national media:
A few months later, on November 5, the day before Barack Obama and Mitt Romney would face off in the general election, Pratt tweeted this mystery about saluting an imaginary flag:
Taken together the tweets present a conundrum. In the first two, he appears critical of Republicans (or media coverage OF Republicans, it’s unclear.) But the third tweet emphasizes Pratt’s political flexibility with “EITHER WAY,” coupled with the extremely Republican energy of “respect” and “allegiance.” Lots of conflicting evidence at work.
Any subsequent tweets about the 2012 primary results, or the ensuing 2016 election are lost to the annals of history, if they ever existed. The next piece of conclusive evidence then pops up on July 18, 2018, when, during the midterms, Pratt retweeted an article about gerrymandering from the Holland Sentinel, a paper most of his fanbase has probably never heard of, as it is the local newspaper for the Holland, Michigan area.
Pratt responded to an op-ed written by local veteran Hugh McNichol IV endorsing a Michigan anti-gerrymandering measure, Pratt wrote: “Gotta stand with Hugh on this one. Rigged is rigged. We’re a democracy. Let Americans vote.”
On its face, Pratt’s support of McNichol IV and the measure seems innocuous: voter suppression is, certainly, bad. Yet McNichol frames the issue strangely: In his op-ed, he rallied against the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and a story in the Detroit Free Press, which had accused voting rights organization Represent.Us, which McNichol helps lead, of engaging in “terrorist tactics” to pass the measure.
For the opinion piece authors, they should be ashamed of their work. They should stop calling themselves journalists, as it tarnishes the reputation of those that do their research and interview both sides. Real journalists ask for proof of outlandish claims, like the use of “terrorist tactics.” That’s a term we use to describe hijacked planes, roadside bombs, abductions, beheadings, etc. I understand these authors’ incentive to be rhetorical but these columns went too far with their unsubstantiated claims. They have earned the label of fake news.
Quickly, everything goes off the rails. McNichol lashes out at the op-ed’s representation of Represent.Us as “left-wing,” adding that he “personally oppose[s] raising the minimum wage, advocate against straight-ticket voting, I like guns, believe in balanced budgets, support ‘right to work,’ and think that pipelines are the safest way to transport hazardous liquids/gases.” Gerrymandering is a bipartisan issue, McNichol argues: “What brings us all together is methods of unrigging our elections.”
McNichol is correct. Despite its continued failure to protect it, anti-gerrymandering laws are essential to the spirit of American democracy. But the tangent of his own political beliefs that interests me. In Pratt’s initial tweet, he frames his support of McNichols IV as a moment of brief political heroism. “Gotta stand with Hugh on this one.” He, like McNichols, insists that gerrymandering is an across the aisle issue—that Democrats also “do” gerrymandering. This is a myth that has been mostly busted by political researchers and journalists this last decade, fueled by conservatives eager to distance themselves from the reality that gerrymandering is a disproportionate Republican project. (And they haven’t been all that quiet about it, either.)
But Pratt has long been concerned with the supposed divide between two equal and feuding parties. A year before Pratt waded into Holland’s voting politics, he gave an interview to Men’s Health, describing his ambition to “bridge” the political divisions tearing America apart in his eyes. “You’re either the red state or the blue state, the left or the right,” he told the magazine. “Not everything is politics. And maybe that’s something I’d want to help bridge, because I don’t feel represented by either side.” This sort of partisanship stems, of course, from an inherently privileged vantage point—a man who is free to opt out of politics when he chooses.
But Pratt doesn’t see it that way. Elsewhere in the interview, he complained
about representation more broadly. “I don’t see personal stories that necessarily resonate with me, because they’re not my stories,” adding that he thought “there’s room for me to tell mine, and probably an audience that would be hungry for them.” To Pratt, these stories that are missing are “the voice of the average, blue-collar American isn’t necessarily represented in Hollywood.” Indirectly or not, Pratt essentially conjured up the stereotype of the average Trump voter, appealing to the belief among conservatives that they are the marginal and under-represented voices in society. (Fears that are often used to justify a host of nightmarish behaviors.)
Around the same time Pratt was waddling into the Holland, Michigan debacle, his religious affiliation was also receiving scrutiny. After an appearance on the Late Show With Stephen Colbert in 2019, where Pratt talked about religious fasting, Ellen Page called out his membership at a Hillsong Church spin-off, Zoe Church. Executives at the church had made homophobic comments, including claiming that homosexuality was sin, and a film produced by Zoe Church pastor Chad Veach equated with homosexuality with “sexual brokenness.”
In response to Page, Pratt released a statement on Instagram:
“It has recently been suggested that I belong to a church which ‘hates a certain group of people’ and is ‘infamously anti-LGBTQ.’ Nothing could be further from the truth. I go to a church that opens their doors to absolutely everyone. Despite what the Bible says about divorce, my church community was there for me every stop of the way, never judging, just gracefully accompanying me on my walk. They helped me tremendously offering love and support. It is what I have seen them do for others on countless occasions regardless of sexual orientation, race or gender.”
“Faith is important to me but no church defines me or my life,” Pratt added, stressing that “we need less hate in this world, not more.” Immediately, however, more incriminating information about Hillsong was revealed, including a blog post from Hillsong pastor Brian Houston titled “Do I Love Gay People,” as the Daily Beast detailed, and allegations that the church engaged in gay conversation therapy. Pratt was noticeably quiet, as the allegations continued to swirl about him and his church.
In 2019, Pratt was also papped walking out and about with wife Katherine Schwarzenegger in a t-shirt emblazoned with a mishmash of the American Revolution era Gadsden flag, designed by Christopher Gadsden in 1775, which read “Don’t Tread On Me,” complete with an accompanying rattlesnake motif. In 2009, the flag had became the symbol of the American Tea Party, seen at rallies and marches across the country—used by far-right militias. As such, wearing the controversial moniker of modern, far-right goons was a curious choice for a man frequently under siege for his political allegiances. Pratt did not explain the shirt, and it passed into the annals of social media history, to be reposted each time he uttered something vaguely political, like his urge to People’s Choice Award voters.
Digging through voter registration records—I could find no evidence to suggest he has ever been registered as a Republican—and interviews, tweets, and public displays of political allegiance, there isn’t really any conclusive proof of Pratt’s voting habits. There is a variety of data points that read Republican, like his insistence that both parties are equally just, his emphasis on unity, and his deluded belief that blue-collar white men haven’t had their moment in the Hollywood sun. (Even if he later retracted this statement after the internet informed him how stupid he sounded.)
Yet Chris Pratt does not appear to be a virulently red-blooded Republican, nor a particularly well-informed voter or political actor. His vague political leanings read, to me, like those of a rich white man, insulated by the bubble of wealth and prestige he has accumulated since ascending from the Parks and Recreation set. Through this transformation, Pratt has become the faceless boogeyman, upon which the modern gossiping public projects its anxieties about the specter of the white, “Middle American” voter—the one that pushed Trump into office in 2016. The one who marched against mask mandates and lockdown measures. The one in a nicely crisp suit at the RNC, smiling through hateful speeches. The one who made the local news protesting outside an abortion clinic. The one who will probably vote for Trump again, come November.
I’ve learned, in this brief investigation, that Chris Pratt is a man who stands for everything and nothing at all, depending on who is looking at him. His blank canvas politics make him the perfect focal point for everyone’s collective projections. In turn, that vagueness protects his Hollywood interests, removing the risk of alienating prospective viewers and fans entirely. Personally, I find that much more frightening.
(Updated 3/2/22 with new details)