11:59am PT by Chris Gardner
Josh Brolin Flexes Social Media Muscle in Feud Between City Council Member and Watchdog Group
As genocide-obsessed Thanos in the Avengers franchise, Josh Brolin battled a bevy of superheroes over the fate of the world. In real life, however, the 51-year-old actor is putting his weight behind a much more local feud.
Brolin weighed in on a mid-October social media war between Santa Monica City Council member Ted Winterer and Santa Monica Problems, a provocative Twitter and Instagram account dedicated to "crime news" and “other issues plaguing the City of Santa Monica.” SMP alerted its followers (13,000 on Instagram; 2,479 on Twitter) that Winterer had blocked the account on Twitter, and Brolin took notice, even sharing SMP’s response with his 2.8 million Instagram followers.
“It appears that Santa Monica City council member, Ted Winterer, did not enjoy the photos and videos of open meth use, people shooting up in our parks, public defecation/urination, and various other issues plaguing Santa Monica that were tweeted at him,” SMP wrote of the block. “We can assure you, Ted, that Santa Monica residents don’t enjoy seeing these things in our city either, but ignoring it on social media, and blocking your constituents will not make it go away. This goes to show that our elected officials don’t care what their constituents think.”
After Brolin reposted the organization’s response, Winterer changed course and unblocked SMP on Twitter and Instagram, and he even invited Brolin to sit for coffee, though the actor has nothing to do with the official SMP account. “I blocked your Twitter account [Santa Monica Problems] because there was no name behind it and there are too many trolls and fake groups on social media,” Winterer wrote in announcing the news on Insta. “But I’m not ignoring the issues we have: just yesterday we had to clean up human feces at our front door.”
A rep for Brolin did not respond to THR’s request for comment, but Winterer did. He sat down with Rambling Reporter for coffee on Main Street in Santa Monica and described himself as “somewhat of a klutz” on social media, hence the initial confusion over the posts. It wasn’t until a friend texted him a screenshot of Brolin’s Instagram post that he realized that his blocking SMP’s account had become a thing. “I mistakenly thought he was behind the Santa Monica Problems account,” he explained. “It’s been sort of weird to experience. I got pilloried by people from around the world over this.”
Winterer added that “it’s very clear to us in city government that our two top priorities are dealing with crime, which has gone up, and the homelessness rate, which has also gone up for a variety of reasons we can’t directly influence.”
He joked that he hoped Thanos could use his influence to “snap his fingers and address our homelessness situation,” but since that’s not going to happen, he hopes that community members — as well as his peers on the council — continue to focus on solutions rather than just problems. As for Brolin? “Big fan,” Winterer said. “I’ve seen Avengers twice. My son and I even went opening weekend.”
#repost @santamonicaproblems ??? It appears that Santa Monica City council member, Ted Winterer, did not enjoy the photos and videos of open meth use, people shooting up in our parks, public defecation/urination, and various other issues plaguing Santa Monica that were tweeted at him, because he blocked Santa Monica Problems on Twitter. We can assure you, Ted, that Santa Monica residents don’t enjoy seeing these things in our city either, but ignoring it on social media, and blocking your constituents will not make it go away. This goes to show that our elected officials don’t care what their constituents think. This is why the city of Santa Monica is spending millions on PR to ensure that many of the issues you see/read about here are swept under the rug, and anything that is present in the media is glowing and positive, such as families and children enjoying themselves in a clean “Reed Park.” This is also why our city is spending millions in legal fees to appeal a court decision that determined that the current council voting districts block the rights of minority voters. Instead of following the court order, our city council is fighting with taxpayer money to keep their seats (yet somehow they claim they lack resources when it comes to residents’ safety). Clearly, they are listening, but they don’t care. They will spend millions to hide that they’re doing a terrible job, millions to fight fair voting, and if they don’t want to hear what we have to say, they’ll block us on social media so they are no longer faced with the truth.
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A version of this story first appeared in the Oct. 30 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.