They didn't bestow this honour upon him for his box-office performance (h/p Libertas for the link) which, when compared to the fact that they cost on average over $100-$150 million each to make and need to make a minimum of 2-3 times the production budget in ticket sales to profit, looks pretty dismal.
Apparently they've given him this dubious honour because of his image. His bland good looks coupled with the bland righteousness of his characters, supposedly hearken to a bygone era of Hollywood leading men.
Now this is very telling, not only about the state of Hollywood, but of the media in general.
There are actors, some of them considered leading men, who are far more popular than Clooney when you look at the ticket sales stats, but it's always Clooney who gets the stamp of approval from the media.
Well, it's all about what audience any given actor is playing for.
The other more bankable stars choose their projects by what they think the audience would like to see them in.
George Clooney picks his projects on how it will play for his peers in Hollywood and the media.
And that's basically it.
Clooney is not a Hollywood star, he's Hollywood's star.
As I've said before, so many times, a "star" is an aspirational figure, one with whom the audience both identifies with, and wishes to be more like.
The average moviegoer doesn't aspire to Clooney, but Hollywood's media industry certainly does. He says what they want to hear, does what they want him to do, and follows the Hollywood herd when it comes to trends and politics, and is called "courageous" for doing it, even though it doesn't harm anything but his box-office appeal.
Clooney's movies under-perform at the box-office yet his salary keeps going up, and he keeps getting nominated for films hardly anyone has seen.
Of course Hollywood could claim that George Clooney has great "name recognition" which is true, he's on the entertainment shows and magazines 24/7. But a lot of people know who Paris Hilton is, but how many of those people will pay money to see her in a movie?
This is a product of Hollywood's increasing isolation from the rest of us. In the glory days stars were designed to appeal to the public, now all the stars have to do, is appeal to each other.
It's like cinematic inbreeding.