Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Hollywood's Unreality and Moral Cowardice

The new Wachowski brothers film, V for Vendetta is due to be released in March, and Libertas has been following the buzz for several weeks (exclusive film review here). Though the film is based on a graphic novel dating back to the end of the Cold War era, the story has apparently been retooled as an indictment of George W. Bush's conservative Christian America, where we're only two goose-steps away from a big oppressive 1984-esque faith-based tyranny. (Did you count all the cliches?) Anyway, it's all part of the new hysteria in Hollywood -- how conservatives in America are blowing in a "chill wind" on free speech. How conservatives are the real terrorists. How dissent in this country is being crushed.

Hollywood is utterly out of step with reality. A real threat to free speech in this country -- political correctness -- is the orthodoxy of the Left. And what liberals frequently mischaracterize as a "chill wind" on free speech is actually the finest expression of it -- the freedom to criticize. Especially to criticize the twisted Leftist worldview that the extension of democracy and the liberation of a nation from one of the cruelest and most sadistic regimes in the world, regardless of what you believe our government's intentions were, amounts to an act of terrorism. In the Leftist view, Elend macht frei. And dissent? Ever wonder what it must be like for black conservatives in the political sphere? Or Christian conservatives at liberal universities?

While a lot of this chill wind and crushing of dissent stuff is meant to generate hype for films, and is therefore at least to some degree based on plain old greed, I also believe that Hollywood liberals view Bush &tc. as a real enemy, and that there is no doubt in their minds that they are doing a kind of public service by announcing their hatred for conservatives and Christians. Not to say that neither conservatives nor Christians deserve criticism (they do), but most of this hatred is based on cognitive dissonance. Furthermore, the entertainment industry is facing a far more deadly and outspoken enemy, but one that is given a free pass. Why? It's a combination of two things. Hollywood refrains from denouncing the far more egregious and myriad tramplings of human rights that occur in Islamic society -- from the poverty and tyranny to the abuses of women and gays -- because: 1) Leftist filmmakers believe that a significant portion of American society only wants to be told how horrible conservatives are, and they think it will pay off; 2) They are afraid of genuine retribution by an enemy that will silence them. Fahrenheit 9/11 notwithstanding, the box office numbers for these political screeds haven't been impressive (but filmmakers can console themselves at the five zillion awards ceremonies that the entertainment industry seems to hold for itself annually). And Hollywood's utter moral cowardice will ultimately fail to pay off, as well. One of the commenters at Libertas put it this way
[Y]ou have no free speech. Not because of GWB, but because of Muslims. Who threaten to kill anyone, anywhere, anytime, who say things they don’t like. A CARTOON sets them off to an orgy of violence, including threatening to behead the cartoonists. Just try and criticize the Prophet and see how quickly you have to flee for your life.

Hollywood is re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic in response.

Who are the terrorists? Muslims. They are REAL. They really kill people. A lot of them. Including 3,000 in the US. You might remember that. Now Iran is sponsoring a contest to make cartoons mocking the Holocaust (which Muslims deny ever happened). Now we get a film that ignores reality that people see every day (Muslims beheading screaming, pleading captives, blowing up innocents, seething with threats to kill anyone who says things they don’t like) in favor of making the West the bad guy. It’s like making an anti-Semitic film about evil Jews in France in 1943. It’s morally offensive to all decent people in the West.

What you can say about Hollywood is that they are gutless. Fearful. Afraid. Of speaking the truth that terrorism exists and it’s done by Muslims. Who have killed film-makers, translators, and threaten to kill authors, writers, cartoonists, and journalists. If you want to see the enemy of writers, artists, thinkers, and free peoples everywhere look no further than Muslims.

V was written right before the Cold War essentially ended, with fears of a US-Soviet nuclear war provoked by Reagan. The idea that MUSLIM terrorists could actually blow up London subways or bring down US skyscrapers never even occurred to [Alan] Moore when he wrote it. But the Wachowskis who are intent on depicting alternative societies (the one had a sex change operation and hangs out with a dominatrix) remain intent on siding with Muslim terrorists who they feel will kill them last. Or at least who remain “allies” opposed to the fundamental societal norms of Western Civilization and intent on destroying that civilization. “Folk Marxism” at its worst.
George Clooney isn't in chains for making Syriana or Good Night, and Good Luck. On the contrary, he's probably got a herniated disk from carrying around all of his award trophies. Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon haven't been hauled away to a re-education camp. And the black helicopters still haven't come for Michael Moore. What's going on here is that Hollywood is taking on the softest target they can find. The irony is that they speak out against the tyranny of conservatives and Christians because they know there isn't any. There will be no retribution. In fact, as their swollen trophy cases and bank accounts will attest, they'll be rewarded for their "dissent." We get tired women's rights rehashes like North Country, but the last time I can remember Hollywood even alluding to the deplorable state of women's rights in Islamic countries was decades ago in Not Without My Daughter. And what about the way Hollywood liberals turned their backs on Dutch filmmaker, Theo Van Gogh? One of their own, who was silenced in the most chilling way, who dissented against a deadly opponent and paid the ultimate price. Not one word.

Some will say the silence is out of respect for Islam. This is a lie. Nobody in the entertainment mainstream cares about the sensibilities of Christians. Or, for that matter, the rest of Hollywood's array of stock villains: Republicans, white people, businesses, and men. How is it that only Islam deserves this kind of reverence? Out of fear. But, logically, this silence is an implicit declaration that radical Islam is composed of tyrannical, zealous, murderous crazies. I am not opposed to self-censorship out of genuine respect. But when it is coerced through threat of violence and/or used as an excuse to ignore grievous offenses, then it is wrong. If Hollywood wants to take a stand and quell the chill wind, they'd better figure out where it's really coming from.


Blogger The Management said...

I think there is some hope though...

Movies CAN be made cheaper, smaller studios can give us films worth watching. There has been a slow shift away from political correctness (real slow) and the Dutch cartoon thing is really painting Islam in the light it needs to be seen in.

Things MIGHT be getting better.

All we need to do now is convince Bush to stop spending all my money and this MIGHT all work out :)


2/08/2006 11:16 AM  
Blogger Stickwick Stapers said...

I think there's hope, too. Box office numbers attest to the fact that a lot of people aren't interested in sitting through two hours of political sermon. Greed might eventually win out and filmmakers will return to classical storytelling, but not without a fight. As with the antiquated mainstream media outlets vs. independent bloggers, it's probably going to be the old Hollywood monolith against the small-guy newcomers.

2/08/2006 11:42 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Excellent piece, Sarah.

2/08/2006 12:19 PM  
Blogger Stickwick Stapers said...

Thanks, Kevin. High praise coming from you. :-)

Oh, and Otter, I meant to say that I agree with you about Bush's spending. That's my one of my biggest beefs with the Neocons.

2/08/2006 1:06 PM  
Blogger Evil Ed said...

I think it makes sense that American artists rail against the kind of oppression they perceive in their own society. What does Clooney know from Islam?

Say what you want about liberals, but none of them would seriously support censoring right-wing opinion, whereas conservative voices like Blankley and Coulter often accuse liberals of "treason" and suggest they be prosecuted. O'Reilly thinks Soros should be hanged, and San Francisco--the whole city--isn't worth protecting. That kind of threatening rhetoric is indeed chilling.

I also notice that none of the many conservative publications out there--the WSJ, Weekly Standard, Washington Times or any others--have published the cartoons either.

2/09/2006 4:58 AM  
Blogger carnaby said...

also notice that none of the many conservative publications out there--the WSJ, Weekly Standard, Washington Times or any others--have published the cartoons either.

Yes, but was that out of a phony "respect for Islam," which is obviously phony for CNN and NYT, since they will publish an image of the Virgin Mary made out of elephant dung and vaginas?

And has Ann Coulter or any other conservative actually threatened or carried out barbarous acts against people they dissagree with? Does Michael Moore fear that his head will be chopped off by Christian extremists? Heck, he isn't even afraid of us gun nuts whom he angered with his Bowling for Columbine dishonesty.

These people are the worst cowards.

2/09/2006 8:02 AM  
Blogger carnaby said...

I suppose I should add, though it should be obvious, that Michael Moore doesn't fear us gun nuts because there is nothing to fear from us. We haven't theatened him, nor will we. Among the rights we hold dear are those outlined in our precious constitution. Moore can say what he likes, and we will defend his right, and ours, to say these things.

2/09/2006 8:04 AM  
Blogger Rusticus said...

"Say what you want about liberals, but none of them would seriously support censoring right-wing opinion"

Uh, ever hear of the Fairness Doctrine? The liberals want to re-enact that pieace offal because it's aimed to do just that.

Read the DU much? Wade in and see how many posters shout "That We Must Silence The Christian Hate Mongers!"

Do it as a drinking game and you'll need a new liver by weeks end.

Fanastic piece, Sarah.

2/09/2006 8:32 AM  
Blogger Stickwick Stapers said...

I think it makes sense that American artists rail against the kind of oppression they perceive in their own society. What does Clooney know from Islam?

Sure, Ed, everything is relative to one's own experience. But it's also a matter of how correlated one's view is to reality. When American celebrities are paid and rewarded either for expressing their liberal views or in spite of them, this is in direct opposition to their claims of chill winds, &tc. My favorite example of this irony (hypocrisy, actually) is everyone's favorite working-class schlub cum New York multi-millionaire, Michael Moore, who fattened his bank account by telling people that they just can't make it in this country.

As for Coulter et al., they are not politicians nor are they in positions of governmental power. I don't pay a lot of attention to these people, because they tend to make inflammatory statements for the same reason as their liberal counterparts -- it sells. There is a huge market for telling people what they want to hear, whether on the right or left side of the aisle, and, yes, it's disturbing. But liberal complaints about restrictions on free speech and dissent are particularly galling, because where this actually occurs with any frequency is in the shining leftist bastion of academia.

And what, you ask, does Clooney know from Islam? As much as any regular citizen who pays attention to what's going on in the world. Nevermind the fact that he recently produced and starred in a film set in the Middle East, Clooney has at least one residence in Europe -- is he blind to the degree to which Muslims are infiltrating European countries and changing the cultural/political topography? Perhaps, but that's an indictment of his own ignorance and narrow view of the world, and Americans can no more afford that kind of myopia now than they could in 1939 and 1941.

2/09/2006 12:32 PM  
Blogger Evil Ed said...

I should have come back sooner. I hope this comment isn't lost in the sauce...

Anybody claiming that conservatives have a "respect for Islam" hasn't been reading any editorials for 4&1/2 years. The reason they're not publishing the cartoons is the same as that of the liberal publications: fear. This is perhaps unfair to Christians, but it also reflects well upon them.

Liberal movies make money not because Hollywood is full of liberals, but because America is full of liberals. It's also full of conservatives, as Mel Gibson could attest. It's a free market. While most artists (& professors) are liberal--which is no more curious than most business majors and soldiers being conservative--the big decisions are made by producers, most of whom are only concerned with turning a profit. In other words, Moore and Clooney make money because enough people like their movies, and pay to see them. A movie about Islam's faults just wouldn't do well at the box office. There is a market for conservative movies too, and I would say that there are such films--Tom Clancy adaptations, Military/Police action flicks, Passion, Narnia, etc.

I'd also say that most conservatives are a little dishonest about what actually entertains them. "Desperate Houswives" is a hit in Texas as well as New york. Members of both parties enjoy depravity in their entertainment, but some of them are more comfortable with it than others.

Take "Good Night & Good Luck." The movie is a statement against McCarthyism. How far-left is that, really? Are you pro-McCarthyism? If not, then what exactly is your beef? If so, then you really are in favor of suppressing speech, and prosecuting proponents of unpopular ideas.

McCarthy is an example of where liberals are afraid we're headed--guys like O'Reilly & Hannity resemble him a bit too much for our tastes. They make lists, they accuse their opponents of anti-Americanism, they use the tactic of guilt by association. They're not senators, but they are influential.

Of course, we're all free to say what we want in America, and that's what makes it a great place to be. But these days I perceive more of a tilt towards the right than ever in my lifetime. For example, after the state of the union speech, each cable news network, including CNN, hosted panels of commentators including only one Democrat and three conservatives. How is that right? Ann Coulter is nationally syndicated and appears regularly on TV news programs. Michael Moore's writings are relegated to his own blog.

Ultimately, I think the prevalence of liberals in the entertainment field is a product of the democracy of the market--people buy their products. Anyone is free to make a Moore-style right-wing film, but they shouldn't cry censorship or bias when nobody goes to see it.

2/10/2006 4:55 AM  
Blogger Stickwick Stapers said...

Ed, first of all, thanks for coming back. We like a bit of debate here at Carnaby Fudge. However, you've missed the point of my rant entirely. Nobody here is complaining about the prevalence of liberal movies. Make 'em, see 'em, I don't care. My point is that they do get made, and meanwhile for Hollywood liberals to bitch and moan about their opinions being stifled and dissent being crushed is ludicrous. When Republican stormtroopers start charging into theaters and burning the reels, then they've got a point.

Ultimately, I think the prevalence of liberals in the entertainment field is a product of the democracy of the market--people buy their products.

Actually, I think you're wrong. People are seeing movies less and less, and I blame the fact that liberals have given up on entertaining people. Film professors no longer teach students to judge movies on the basis of artistic merit, but instead on how well they address social issues. So, while these films rate high on the consciousness-raising meter, they are preachy, self-righteous, and dead-boring. Critics may like them, but their mediocre returns attest to the fact that not many people of any political stripe find them worth the price of admission. Most people just want a good story, not a sermon.

Anyone is free to make a Moore-style right-wing film, but they shouldn't cry censorship or bias when nobody goes to see it.

I don't think a Moore-style right-wing film would sell. Conservatives don't need to be preached at. We know our point of view, and we feel comfortable with it. On the other hand, liberals have this need to constantly assure themselves of their relevance, because, to quote The Curmudgeon, every last one of their core principles, if they can be called such, has been rejected by the American public. Moore's style of filmmaking, like liberalism in general, satisfies the desire of insecure people to feel better about themselves by pointing out everyone else's flaws. This is why Kerry's presidential campaign was based almost entirely on, "I'm not Bush." OK, but who are you? I don't think any of you know, and the only way you can avoid owning up to this is to keep the glare on someone else. Which is why there are so few positive liberal movies. If liberal films aren't celebrating some form of depravity, then they harp that war is evil, guns are evil, corporations are evil, Republicans are evil, Christians are evil, whites are evil, men are evil, heterosexuals are evil. Even if someone accepts this as truth, it still doesn't tell us what's good about liberalism. Do we see films depicting the wonderful and uplifting aspects of your ideology? You tell me. I'd really like to know, Ed, what films you think celebrate the positive aspects of liberalism without resorting to demonizing someone/something else.

2/10/2006 9:58 AM  

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