What Liberal Hollywood? postsThursday December 15, 2016
How They Lie: Miss Sloane's Box Office
This is the headline on Town Hall, a right-wing propaganda website, about the box office of the new movie, “Miss Sloane,” starring Jessica Chastian:
Surprise: Hollywood's Latest Gun Control Movie Tanks at The Box Office
We haven't even gotten to the article and they‘ve already lied. Can you spot the lie?
It’s the word Latest. As if Hollywood keeps producing nothing but gun control movies. I mean, can you name another one? I can‘t. So I just did a keyword search on IMDb and came up with a list of 75 movies. It includes “Unforgiven” starring Clint Eastwood, “Death Wish” with Charles Bronson, and “Law and Order” with Ronald Reagan. So not exactly gun control.
Anyway, Town Hall’s piece is culled from a Fox News piece, which laughs that Hollywood liberals have once again failed to breach the “values” wall. The Left Coast created a movie with liberal values, it did poorly at the box office (that part's true: it has), which shows, beyond a doubt, that “Americans don't want to spend their hard earned money on movies insulting their values.”
Right. You know what it shows? That most moviegoers don't go see political process movies—even those with Jessica Chastain in them. They want wish-fulfillment fantasy. They want heroes with guns.
And guess what? Hollywood gives it to them. Over and over and over and over and over and over and over.
That's really the biggest lie in the piece—this notion that Hollywood, as a whole, is somehow anti-gun, when Hollywood, as an industry, has done more to glamorize guns than anyone else, including the NRA. Every gun owner in America should be kissing Hollywood's ass for making it easier for them to hold onto their guns, because every NRA argument against gun control measures plays off the Hollywood playbook. You know Wayne La Pierre's infamous line: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun”? You know what that describes? Half the movies Hollywood ever made.
Creating Hate Against Hollywood
This is how you create right-wing propaganda.
Start with a comment that should be taken with a grain of salt—actor Mark Wahlberg talking to taskandpurpose.com, a website dedicated to American veterans, during the publicity tour for his new movie “Patriots Day.”
Here's the headline: “Mark Wahlberg Thinks Celebrities Need to Shut Up About Politics.” Except he doesn't quite say that. Opining about politics, he says, “A lot of celebrities did, do, and shouldn't.” Opine, that is. Then he adds:
A lot of Hollywood is living in a bubble. They're pretty out of touch with the common person, the everyday guy out there providing for their family. Me, I'm very aware of the real world. I come from the real world and I exist in the real world. And although I can navigate Hollywood and I love the business and the opportunities it's afforded me, I also understand what it's like not to have all that.“
Wahlberg has been a star for 25 years now—a quarter century—and he thinks he's aware of the real world. Why? Does he carry a wallet? Does he have to work to get a date? Is he worried about paying rent/mortgage? No? Then what is he talking about? What is ”the real world“ to him and why does he occupy it and his colleagues don't?
More, the whole thing plays into a classic conservative POV with Hollywood and other left-wing institutions: They should shut up. Charlton Heston thought this ... until he began railing against feminists and Al Gore, and became president of the NRA. At that point, apparently, it was OK to talk politics. The right-wing kind.
Besides, Wahlberg does in fact talk politics. At the end of the piece, we get this:
Asked what he thinks of the president-elect's proposed ban on Muslims entering the country, given that the [Boston marathon bombing] Tsarnaev brothers were both naturalized citizens, Wahlberg decided to talk a little politics after all. ”I have a lot of Muslim friends who are really amazing people,“ he said. ”So anything like that is just completely absurd and unacceptable to me. I'm a devout Catholic. I have a lot of Jewish friends. I've got a lot of friends from all over the world. And I think a lot of good people have been mistreated for a long time and we need to fix that.“
Popping a few Cellfood dietary capsules (”It's enzymes, amino acids...“), he added that we need to do a better job of educating people about the real threats out there. ”There's a big difference between a Muslim and a terrorist. Big, big difference.“
I love Wahlberg for this last bit but he does keep contradicting himself. Other celebrities are out of touch but he isn't; other celebrites shouldn't talk politics but he can. It's the contradictions that make the piece (and the man) interesting, but it's what gets lost in translation to right-wing websites. I won't link to them but these are their heds:
- Mark Wahlberg: ”Hollywood is Living in a Bubble... Out of Touch with Reality“
- Mark Wahlberg Tells 'Out of Touch' Celebs to Shut Up About Politics
And it spreads. I just did a Google search on ”Mark Wahlberg“ and this was at the top:
I was on Twitter yesterday and someone with four followers (either friendless or a right-wing troll) quoted Wahlberg in telling actor Jeffrey Wright to shut up about the Confederate flag; he told him he was out of touch; he said he wasn't in ”the real world."
Wahlberg let himself be played here. He should know that telling a group of people not to talk politics is itself a political act. One of the worst ones.
What Liberal Hollywood? Trump's 'Air Force One' Entrance
Being all “What Liberal Hollywood?” like I am, this quote from Hope Hicks, 27, Donald Trump’s campaign spokesperson, in Gabriel Sherman’s profile of Trump campaign headquarters in New York Magazine, caught my eye:
“Look at the rally we did in Mesa, Arizona, December 16th,” added Hicks. “That was the first one when we pulled the plane in and ‘Air Force One’ [the theme song of the 1997 movie starring Harrison Ford] was playing. It’s efficient. It’s for branding ... ”
Again. Again the right-wing uses the tropes of Hollywood even as it condemns Hollywood.
Off the top of my head:
- Donald Trump goes for the music of “Air Force One.” (“Get off my plane!”/”Get out of my country!”)
- The NRA makes its pitch for more guns: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
- John McCain during the 2008 election: “I’m like Jack Bauer.”
- W., post 9/11, on bin Laden: “There’s an old poster out west that I recall that said: ‘Wanted Dead or Alive.’”
- Reagan: “I have only one thing to say to the tax increasers: ‘Go ahead, Make my day.’”
The GOP is so insubstantial and absolutist now, it's more like a competing studio than a political party. It's just having a little trouble with its leading man. Casting calls are going out.
What Liberal Hollywood? Part 90
For years, I've argued that the product of Hollywood (i.e., the movies) isn't liberal and never has been. If liberal values are, as George Packer recently asserted in The New Yorker, tolerance, skepticism and reason, then what's so liberal about Hollywood movies that promote certainty, wish fulfillment, and revenge fantasies? Where good guys are good, bad are bad, and relativism is for Oscar season?
But now Ann Coulter, stumping for Trump in L.A., where she lives and cackles, is raising the possibility that the Hollywood artistic community ain't all that liberal either:
“There are definitely more conservatives in Hollywood than anyone would expect,” Coulter told The Daily Beast. “I always say that if they all came out at once, they'd realize they're a majority.”
Hollywood conservatives are both marginalized victims and the majority? Got it.
So far the usual suspects: Clint Eastwood, Jon Voight, James Woods, Kelsey Grammer, Patricia Heaton, Gary Sinese. There's also a secret right-wing org, Friends of Abe or FOA, that the Hollywood Reporter has reported on, and which includes Lionel Chetwynd, the man who gave us a quick-thinking George W. Bush barking orders at a submissive Dick Cheney in the TV movie, “DC 9/11: Time of Crisis.”
I doubt anything Coulter says, but one thing's certain: If Hollywood were full of cons it would make sense of the absolutist crap they produce.
What Liberal Hollywood? Part 89
John Leguizamo says what I've been saying for years—although, in this USA Today Op-Ed about #OscarSoWhite, etc., he's saying it about the place, while I've been saying it about the product:
For all the talk about “liberal Hollywood,” the film industry is as conservative as any other wealthy institution. If Hollywood were a U.S. state, it would be Alabama. It's more conservative than TV. It's more conservative than Broadway, which was the dinosaur of the media world not too long ago.
Then he talks up the musical, “Hamilton,” in which people of color play the founding fathers, and which has been my absolute obsession these past few weeks. Here's an early version of the opening number. Here's a CBS Morning Report on Lin-Manuel Miranda. In the #OscarSWhite controversy, Spike Lee also referenced “Hamilton,” specifically the song “The Room Where It Happens,” insisting—like Leguizamo and Viola Davis—that it's a matter of opportunity; of getting into the room where it happens.