When I watch a guy I know is a big Republican, part of me thinks, I probably wouldn’t like this person if I met him, or we would have different opinions…That sh*t fogs the mind when you should be paying attention and be swept into the illusion.
– Ben Affleck
Hollywood loves sequels, but they are almost always inferior to the originals. This true of the current sequel, “Blacklist II – The Republicans,” now playing at a theater near you.
Today’s Hollywood never tires of whining about the blacklist, which prevented communists – or suspected communists – from working in the film industry in the 1940s and 1950s. The 2005 film “Good Night and Good Luck” is an example of showing the blacklist in the worst possible light. Communist influence in movies was a real problem, but the blacklist was a clumsy remedy that harmed the innocent with the guilty.
Still, no matter how you feel about the blacklist, it ended half a century ago. Being obsessed with the past takes our attention away from the present. And the present has plenty of its own problems – international terrorism, for example. Hollywood has produced more films dealing with the old blacklist than with 9/11.
What’s more, Hollywood has altered scripts of films so they no longer deal with the problem of terrorism caused by Islamic extremists. Tom Clancy’s best-selling novel “The Sum of All Fears” describes a nuclear bomb in the hands of Middle Eastern terrorists. But when the film was made, the villains were changed to old European Nazis. No, that’s not what the current danger is – old Nazis. The current danger is extremist Muslims who absorbed the worst of the Nazis’ genocidal ideology, then combined it with religious fanaticism. But you’ll never learn that from Hollywood.
By looking backward at the old blacklist, Hollywood believes itself excused from the responsibility of looking at the current blacklist. But there is a blacklist:
The public affirmation of faith.
Ben Affleck is an award-winning actor and director. I loved his recent film “Argo.” In it, he portrays the CIA agent who helped six American hostages escape from Iran when fanatics took over our embassy in 1979. This was legally an act of war for which the Iranian regime has never apologized, much less compensated the diplomats and Marines who were held hostage and mistreated for 444 days.
Perhaps this is the reason Affleck felt the need to reiterate his liberal beliefs publicly. Perhaps portraying a “great American” (Jimmy Carter’s words) proved too much for his progressive friends, so he declared that he would have a problem with working with a Republican, much less befriending one. No, being an active fund-raiser for Obama wasn’t enough. More was required. Just as in a totalitarian nation, to remain successful he had to reaffirm his devotion to the approved dogmas.
Note Affleck’s unwillingness to be around people who express “different opinions.” Unfortunately, this is an all-too-common attitude of those who attended liberal universities, where they never were exposed to “different opinions.” They are unprepared to make logical arguments, so they can react only with avoidance and name-calling.
Affleck had to restate his progressive beliefs to be sure of remaining in the “in” group. If even a top actor and director had to do this, how much harder it must be for lesser Hollywood personalities to be sure they remain politically correct.
The accidental photo.
Sharon Lawrence is a fine actress who had a starring role on “NYPD Blue” and appeared in many films and TV shows. But her career was interrupted, and nearly ended, by a terrible accident. Did she run over a nun while driving drunk? Did a kilo of cocaine fall out of her handbag at the airport? No, it was even worse. By chance her photo appeared on the same page of People magazine as a photo of President Bush. The stories were unrelated – the photos just happened to be near each other.
Lawrence campaigned for Al Gore and is a Democrat. But Hollywood moguls incorrectly assumed she was (horror!) a Republican. She received hate mail and was insulted by strangers. A Hollywood producer said, “I have to ask, are you really a Republican?” This occurred at a production meeting, in front of others, and clearly had negative employment implications.
Ms. Lawrence had to initiate a campaign to inform her colleagues and “friends” that she was really not a Republican. Whether this campaign was successful is still in doubt. I don’t recall seeing her on TV lately.
The confusing name.
The Los Angeles Times carried an opinion piece by Peter Mehlman, a TV writer and producer. He complained bitterly that his last name is the same as Ken Mehlman, then-chairman of the Republican Party. But Peter felt it necessary to state, “I am not, and categorically deny ever having been in any way, related to Ken Mehlman.”
Peter may not be aware of the irony. His denial is eerily similar to the denial required of suspected communists who were hauled before the House Un-American Activities Committee. In order to work again, they had to proclaim before the cameras and microphones, “I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the Communist Party.”
But, you see, Peter’s need to deny his relationship is even worse than the suspected communists’ denial a half-century ago. They had to deny that they were members of a subversive organization dedicated to overthrowing our government. They had to deny that they personally had done something wrong.
On the contrary, Peter did not have to deny anything that he might have done. No, in order to continue working in his chosen field, he had to deny that he was merely related to someone who is, in his words, a “pariah.” He notes that the question was asked in the same tone as, “Are you listed under Megan’s Law?” To his “liberal” colleagues, conservatives are equivalent to child molesters.
Peter Mehlman was trying to save himself from the threat of Sippenhaft, the Nazi practice of punishing the relatives of those who were accused of disloyalty. Communists used similar tactics. He had to publish an article in a leading liberal paper, in the hope that prospective employers would know he was innocent of the “crime” of being related to a Republican official.
During World War II, an American was found with the last name of Hitler. Reporters asked him why he didn’t change it. He replied, “Let him change his name!” Back then, we were Americans, not politically correct wimps.
The rejected scripts.
Robert Avrech is an Emmy-winning screenwriter. He reports that he lost two writing jobs. Weren’t his scripts realistic? No, they were too realistic.
The first script was rejected when Avrech depicted terrorists as extremist Muslims rather than as right-wing Christians. He was told that showing terrorists as they really are would be “insensitive.” Apparently his bosses confused sensitivity with mendacity. In Avrech’s words, “The political divide in Hollywood is now being felt in the most important quarter: the war against Islamic terrorism. Basically, Hollywood denies that such a war exists.”
The second script was rejected because Avrech refused to depict a Rush Limbaugh-like character with a pack of defamatory lies. Once again, his work was rejected for being too truthful. As he says, “When I confront these people with the truth, they look at me as if I am some visitor from some foreign planet. Which I guess I am.”
Walking forward while looking back.
People have to watch where they are going, or they are likely to fall into a hole and get hurt. In the 20th century, they fell into some really deep ones – Nazism, fascism, and communism. The Hollywood blacklist may have had a good motive, but it was badly done and harmed the innocent with the guilty. But by walking forward while looking back over our shoulders, we are in the process of falling into the same kind of hole with which we are obsessed.
By harping on the old blacklist, we are diverting attention from the new one. We are ignoring the blacklisting of suspected conservatives. We are forgetting the enforced conformity in Hollywood – celebrities compete with one another to make the most anti-war, anti-military, anti-Bush, or frankly anti-American statements, preferably laced with obscenities. Meanwhile, they shower Obama with praise and omit anything that might be considered critical.
What’s more, we are overlooking the alteration of scripts to remove all mention of our current enemies. We are neglecting the wimpification of Hollywood, which used to depict our virtues, but now magnifies our defects.
I’ll know Hollywood is American again when Sharon Lawrence no longer worries about whose photo happens to appear on the same page as her photo, when Peter Mehlman no longer worries about who has the same last name, when Robert Avrech no longer worries about how much his scripts have to distort the truth, and when Ben Affleck no longer feels the need to announce that he does not want to work with Republicans.
Show-business celebrities pose as champions of “tolerance” and “inclusiveness.” I’ll believe them when they tolerate the inclusion of Republicans, or even conservative Democrats. Hollywood big shots claim to be opponents of blacklisting. I’ll believe them when they stop doing it.
You’ve got to go along to…oops!
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