What Liberal Hollywood? postsFriday December 30, 2016
THR's Great Guns Piece Gone Wrong
A few weeks back, The Hollywood Reporter published an excellent piece called “Locked and Loaded: The Gun Industry's Lucrative Relationship with Hollywood,” by Gary Baum and Scott Johnson. It gives us a fascinating look into the industries that provide the movies with firearms, as well as the experts who make sure everything is both safe and realistic during filming.
All that's good. The article runs into problems when it tries to parse the contradictions between a so-called liberal Hollywood that glamorizes guns, and a gun-control industry that condemns Hollywood as liberal even as it benefits from 100 years of cinematic heroes with guns. Generally, the article puts the burden of hypocrisy squarely on Hollywood's shoulders, then bends over backwards to underline its point.
For example, the writers say they contacted “more than 50 actors, producers, writers, directors and showrunners who have been outspoken gun-control proponents while also utilizing firearms in their storytelling.” The implication is that these people are hypocrites for doing both. But notice the verb: not “glamorizing” firearms in storytelling, but “utilizing” them.
Four men of the 50 responded:
- Actor Tom Arnold (“True Lies”)
- Actor Clark Gregg (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”)
- Producer Steve Levitan (“Modern Family”)
- Screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (“Milk”)
Again: These are gun-control proponents that also “utilized” firearms in their storytelling. So I get the first two. Kinda sorta. But Levitan? “Modern Family”? Really? He also produced the '90s sitcoms “Frasier,” “The Larry Sanders Show,” and “Just Shoot Me.” Maybe THR was confused about “Just Shoot Me.”
But THR really pissed me off with the way they introduced Black:
Dustin Lance Black, whose screenplays for Milk and J. Edgar incorporated guns ...
Seriously, THR? You're implying that it's a contradiction for Black to be a gun-control advocate while also writing an Oscar-winning screenplay about a beloved politician who was assassinated?
The rest of the article is worth reading anyway.
To The Hollywood Reporter, more hypocrisy from Hollywood's gun-control advocates.
A Vast Right-Wing Hypocrisy
This is the headline:
When Entertainment Reporters Get Political
This is what the headline should read:
Right-Wing Media Demands Impartiality from Rest of Press
The granddaddy of all right-wing rags, National Review, is aghast, simply aghast, that mainstream media reporters are making off-hand political comments as reality TV star Donald J. Trump is about to assume the presidency.
NR thinks it's pointing out a double standard but it's really demanding one: a set of rules for Rush, Drudge, Fox, Breitbart, and yes, The National Review, which get to spread malicious lies about the left (and magnanimous ones about the right); but reporters and columnists (columnists!) for Hollywood Reporter and Variety should just shut their yaps about the political disaster we're in even when they're on Twitter. Nice.
I've got news for National Review: This isn't 1969 and they are not Spiro Agnew. That shit is over.
I could go through NR's list of complaints and knock them off one by one, but who has time? Its overall demand isn't just impartiality but stupidity. It wants the mainstream press to pretend not just that an apple is an orange but a fresh apple is a rotten orange. Next thing you know they'll be demanding impartiality from restaurant critics: “elitists” who look down upon regular food.
It saves its worst thoughts for the kicker:
Maybe entertainment reporters simply assume that they are writing for their liberal friends in Hollywood. But if they are covering an industry that wants to make money off the rest of America, they might try to learn something from the election results.
- I think they're writing for people who read, and have a mind, something National Review might want to consider before it disappears.
- If the goal is popularity, you'd probably want to look at the popular vote, which Hillary won by nearly 3 million votes. National Review might want to consider this before it disappears.
- The real lesson from the 2016 election is this: It's tough for a good woman to overcome 25 years of right-wing propaganda, onesided hacking, and meddling from both foreign enemies and our own country's prime federal law enforcement agency. National Review might want to consider this before we all disappear.
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.