Jonathan Krohn, the self-styled child actor whose well-choreographed 2009 speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference as a 13-year-old activist became a viral YouTube hit, has renounced conservatism and embraced gay marriage, nonconformism and Austrian-British philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein.
Politico broke the story Monday that the now 17-year-old Krohn, who is heading to New York University this fall to pursue filmmaking and screenwriting, was embarrassed by his fiery CPAC speech and wanted to “move away from ideological boxes in general.”
Krohn had lobbied hard for the three-minute speaking slot at CPAC in 2009 and returned again to the conference in 2010 to introduce a speaker.
Photographed by Politico wearing hipster frames and unruly hair, Krohn and his new views may not break the mold at NYU — an institution known almost as much for its progressive slant and weed culture as its nationally-recognized film program. (RELATED: In Defense of Jonathan Krohn: ‘He’s stayed true to his own ideas’)
Nevertheless, in an effort to “make the right look bad,” a source familiar with Krohn told The Daily Caller, Politico deliberately portrayed Krohn’s shift from staunch tween conservative to teenage liberal college-bound idealist as a brave and unusual move.
Krohn’s apparently conformist embrace of nonconformism won him fast new friends. By Monday night, Krohn was fielding hundreds of new Twitter followers, thanking them for their admiration and support and offering a few the chance to take a peek at his newest screenplay, which he pitched to them as a “dark, postmodern satire of modern American life.”
Krohn also told followers on Twitter that he found talk show host Bill Maher’s comment from two years ago that he was an “asshole” to be “rather humorous” and took numerous shots at his old supporters, who reacted to his sudden switch with puzzlement.
“The same people who were supporting my work in Conservatism are now tweeting how they think I’m annoying and wrongheaded?” Krohn wrote on Twitter. “Oh irony!”
But not everyone has always supported Krohn’s ripped-from-talk-radio beliefs and talking points, or the very public way he repeatedly chose to deliver them.
“Holy fucking shit,” exclaimed an attendee at the 2009 CPAC conference when told about Krohn’s political conversion and planned postmodern satire in an interview with TheDC.
“The kid was most annoying 13-year-old I have ever met,” said the attendee, who spoke with Krohn before his speech and talked with TheDC on the condition of anonymity because of concerns about retribution from superiors. “He was a braggart. He said something like, ‘Maybe when this is over you can watch me on ‘Hannity’ later tonight.'”
Krohn’s mother, Marla Krohn, an aspiring actress and middle-school drama teacher, has faced similar criticism. On Amazon.com, where Krohn’s self-published book “Defining Conservatism” still sells, numerous reviewers blamed her for allegedly coaching her son and using him for publicity.
The New York Times ran a profile of the Krohns in 2010 — when Jonathan was still conservative — that included numerous details about Marla’s involvement in her son’s life, including her refusal to let him own a cellphone and her insistence on barking at him while he was being interviewed by local news stations.
“Krohn was smug, condescending, and obviously completely ignorant of what he was saying,” the attendee said. “When I spoke with him, I got the impression he was merely repackaging what someone else had told him. He was smart, but almost Stepford Wife-like in how it seemed like he was being used. It was creepy. … He kept talking about the book he had written and how many radio shows he had been on.”
After a pause, the source added: “To be clear, the fact that he was being used did not make the kid any less of a douche.”