5 Myths About Those Tinseltown Liberals
By Andrew Klavanhttp://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/10/10/AR2008101002454.html
Hollywood used to be called the Dream Factory, but nowadays it seems to be grinding out as much propaganda as anything else. Next off the weary assembly line: Oliver Stone's "W.," which opens on Friday. If the trailer is any indication, this movie will depict our current president's life as an evolution from drunken loser to dangerous idiot -- and just in time for the election, too.
The director of "Nixon" and "JFK," Stone has shown himself to be a master of rewriting reality until it resembles his left-wing ideology, but he's by no means alone. For the past 30 years or so, Hollywood storytelling has been guided by a liberal mythos in which, for example, blacklisting communist screenwriters during the '50s was somehow morally worse than fellow-traveling with the Stalinist murderers of tens of millions ("Trumbo"); Che Guevara was a dashing, romantic liberator instead of a charismatic killer ("The Motorcycle Diaries"); and the worldwide violence currently being waged by Islamo-fascists is either a figment of our bigoted imaginations or the product of our evil deeds ("V for Vendetta").
Hollywood moviemakers, in other words, have been telling lies -- loudly, constantly and almost always in support of a left-wing point of view. And these lies are most prolific and tenacious when the Hollywood left is lying about itself. Here's a list of their most egregious whoppers:
1. Hollywood has no political agenda -- it's just out to make money.
Would that it were so. All through 2007, Hollywood sent American multiplexes the message: "We don't like the war on terror." All year, American moviegoers sent a message back to Hollywood: "We don't care." "Lions for Lambs," "In the Valley of Elah," "Redacted," "Rendition" -- movie after movie in which our film-land elites derided U.S. efforts to smack down Islamist terrorism bombed at the box office. Even the guys who ran Fannie Mae would have figured out that this was a losing economic strategy. But not Hollywood; 2008 gave us even more anti-war flops, such as "Stop-Loss" and "War, Inc." As ace film blogger John Nolte pointed out, only one war-on-terror film, the mediocre "Vantage Point," did good business. Why? Because it showed Americans as the good guys they are. If Hollywood were all about making money, it would do that a lot more often.
2. Hollywood liberals speak truth to power.
In a pig's eye -- and a pig wearing lipstick at that. Sure, left-wing filmmakers are fearless when depicting snarling, evil Republican politicos, as in "The American President," or savage environment-destroying businessmen, as in "Michael Clayton," or the late Sen. Joseph McCarthy, as in the Edward R. Murrow hagiography "Good Night, and Good Luck." But those make-believe right-wingers and long-dead senators have no power whatsoever over the filmmakers. The people who do have power are the executives and directors who hire them, the reviewers who bolster their product and the elite opinion-makers who lavish them with prizes and prestige -- and they're all part of the Hollywood left-wing establishment. To the true Hollywood power, liberal filmmakers speak nothing but slavish conformity . . . and after a while, they start to think it's the truth.
3. Hollywood liberals are liberal.
Is censorship liberal? Movie ideas that don't toe the liberal line are hampered and censored at every level. I have personal knowledge of ideas that were shot down, drastically rewritten and limited in release simply because their themes were pro-American or pro-military.
But Hollywood supports unions, a stalwart Democratic cause, right? Well, yeah, if you watch "Norma Rae" or "Hoffa." But in real life, filmmakers routinely outsource their productions to places such as Vancouver and Budapest, where they can avoid paying union premiums. And when the Writers Guild struck last year, we saw studio liberals turn into corporate hard-guys in the blink of an eye.
All right, but anyone who saw "The Contender," with its tale of a female vice presidential candidate slandered by sexists, might think that the Hollywood left wouldn't run down a politician because of her gender. Yet Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has found that this applies only if you conform to the leftist agenda. Hollywood insiders have attacked Palin with sexist remarks so low and crude they can't even be repeated here.
4. Liberals don't exclude conservatives; conservatives just aren't that creative.
I get this in letters all the time -- and even fielded it while sparring recently on washingtonpost.com: "Why don't you just admit it? Conservatives have no talent!" But how often have we heard this argument made by those on the inside wanting to keep others out? "We're not excluding blacks; they're just not smart enough to manage baseball teams." "It's not that we wouldn't hire a woman; women just don't have a brain for business." There are a million pro-American, pro-God, pro-family, pro-liberty stories waiting to be told and plenty of good writers and directors to tell them. Can't they film "Hard Corps," the autobiography of Navy Cross recipient Marco Martinez, who went from being a New Mexico gangster to a Marine hero in Iraq? Or "My Men Are My Heroes," the rousing story of Marine 1st Sgt. Brad Kasal and the taking of Fallujah? Forget it. The door is shut, the fix is in, and the blacklist -- or at least a graylist -- is alive and well.
5. Hollywood leftists are patriotic in their own way.
Words -- despite what you might have learned at university -- actually have meanings. The meaning of the word patriotism is "love of country." If you don't love your country, you're not a patriot. "When I see an American flag flying, it's a joke," the late director Robert Altman told the Times of London in January 2002. "America is dumb," actor Johnny Depp, who lives in France, said in 2003. Receiving an award in Spain in 2002, actress Jessica Lange told the audience, "It makes me feel ashamed to come from the United States -- it's humiliating."
Making anti-war films while American troops are under fire is not patriotic. Exporting movies that consistently show the United States in a bad light is not patriotic. Ceaselessly casting America and its government as the bad guy is not patriotic, either. And while, yes, I admit that there are many people of good will and patriotism on the left, those who love truth, courage, tolerance and America might be forgiven for wondering whether it isn't time for regime change in Los Angeles.
Andrew Klavan's novels and screenplays have been turned into such films as "True Crime" and "Don't Say a Word." His latest novel is "Empire of Lies."
Liberal Views Dominate Footlights
By PATRICIA COHENhttp://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/15/theater/15thea.html?_r=1&oref=slogin
During this election season theatergoers in New York can see a dozen or so overtly political plays, about Iraq, Washington corruption, feminism or immigration; what they won’t see are any with a conservative perspective.
If you think the one-sidedness is a result of the city’s generous supply of liberals, then look west of the Alleghenies, where, from Pittsburgh to Des Moines, on down to Austin, Tex., and all the way back up to Ashland, Ore., the absence is just as noticeable. Artistic directors of regional theaters and playwriting programs throughout the country are quick to point out that most American plays avoid politics altogether or cannot be easily categorized.
Nonetheless, many have been struck by the lack of plays that, for instance, question multiculturalism, gay marriage and abortion rights, or champion an unfettered free market, a strong military and barriers to immigration. The problem, they say, is not that authors with those ideas cannot get their plays produced, but rather that they cannot be found.
Art Borreca, who has been the head of the Playwrights Workshop in Iowa since 1997, said he reads at least 100 new plays a year by students and applicants and had come across only one that had what could be considered a conservative viewpoint — and that was written by a liberal professor who thought his skepticism of multicultural courses was being unfairly characterized.
André Bishop, artistic director of Lincoln Center Theater for 16 years, said he reads about five plays a week, and from thousands over the years he could not think of a single one that would fall on the right end of the spectrum. “I’m trying to think if I ever read a play that I would call conservative,” he said, pausing a few moments. “I don’t think I’ve come across one.”
And at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, which embarked last year on an ambitious, decade-long project to commission 37 plays that depict moments of change in American history, the project’s director has been so unsuccessful in finding a play without a liberal slant that she even considered looking for a young writer at a conservative college to whom she could be a mentor over the next eight years.
“You cannot tell the story of the United States without including the story of conservative political and social movements,” said Alison Carey, whose wonderfully equivocal title at the project is director of American revolutions.
Not everyone is convinced that such theatrical voices are really so scarce. The playwright Jonathan Reynolds, who defines his politics as right of center, argues that being staged is more of a problem for writers who stray from the liberal line than artistic directors are willing to admit. He said it took 12 years to have his play “Stonewall Jackson’s House” produced, because no one would touch it.
Commenting on the failure of black leadership and political correctness, the play is about a contemporary black woman who asks a white couple to take her in as their slave. He said he remembered the initial reading at the Actors Studio in the mid-1980s with Elia Kazan and Norman Mailer. “Mailer said, ‘If you put this on, you’ll get lynched,’ ” Mr. Reynolds recalled.
It was finally produced in 1997 at the American Place Theater in New York. Peter Marks wrote in The New York Times that Mr. Reynolds had delivered a “rambling, funny, cranky and highly entertaining diatribe” against programs “especially of the liberal stripe.”
“Every single artistic director is of vaguely the same political stripe, either left of center or way left of center,” Mr. Reynolds said. He is seeking a producer for his newest play, “Girls in Trouble (Formerly Three Abortions),” which questions a woman’s absolute right to choose.
“It makes me angry and sad because it limits the theater’s effectiveness and relevance because it’s cutting out half the audience,” he added.
One place you might expect to find productions that champion traditional values is the network of Christian companies throughout the country. But even there, plays tend not to be overtly political. These theaters often present classics or works that contain uplifting messages and specific religious themes. Dale Savidge, founder of the Christians in Theater Arts, added that Christian artists span the political spectrum.
For example, the A.D. Players, a nonprofit Christian theater in Houston, has staged works by George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde and Horton Foote. It is currently showing a musical version of Robert Fulghum’s “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.”
Jeanette Clift George, the A.D. Players’ director, said she would like to see more plays that challenge the predominantly liberal popular culture. “I am appalled at the silence of the artist who is not in the mainstream,” she said. The right-leaning scripts that she does encounter tend to reflect their playwrights’ inexperience, she added. “I think there is a serious lack of mentors. I think the schools do not encourage a conservative statement.”
Mr. Reynolds conceded that he could not think of many conservative plays, mentioning only David Mamet’s “Oleanna,” about a college student who, egged on by feminist groups, accuses her professor of sexual harassment. Other potential conservative playwrights, he suggested, may have given up.
Although Mr. Mamet wrote “Oleanna” years ago, it was only this March that he publicly declared in The Village Voice that he was no longer a liberal. Mr. Mamet is declining all interviews because he is writing, his press agent said.
In the essay he wrote that liberals tend to think that everything is wrong and must be corrected, but that his own experience showed him that despite humanity’s generally swinish behavior, people manage to get along reasonably well. “A free-market understanding of the world meshes more perfectly with my experience than that idealistic vision I called liberalism,” he wrote.
A similar conversation about the limited range of viewpoints has been going on in Britain since Nicholas Hytner, artistic director of the National Theater, said he would like to stage a “good, mischievous, right-wing play,” but was having trouble finding one.
“I would love to deliver a play that ended up in a position that, for instance, was highly skeptical about abortion rights,” he said. “I would like to see a play about the white working-class communities that were completely displaced by waves of immigration. These are the offensive plays we’re not doing.”
Just why a lack of conservative voices should characterize the theater more than other arts, like fiction writing, in which conservatives like Saul Bellow, Mark Helprin or V. S. Naipaul readily spring to mind, has puzzled artists.
Mr. Borreca, of the Playwrights Workshop, offered a historical perspective, explaining that the tradition of political playwriting in Europe and the United States really started with Bertolt Brecht, a Marxist, who remains a strong influence.
Ted Pappas, producing artistic director of the Pittsburgh Public Theater, reached back further, saying “the theater since ancient Greece has almost been a town hall meeting and an opportunity for more radical ideas to be revealed in front of a mass community.”
James Bundy, the dean of the Yale School of Drama, also sees theater as “a subversive art,” although he insists that nearly all labeling is misleading. “Most of my experience of playwrights is from reading their plays or seeing them, and it’s hard to divine their politics,” he said.
That raises the question of how to define a conservative play in the first place. After all, you can see politics in anything, and even playwrights who identify themselves as being on the left often don’t hesitate to lampoon liberal as well as conservative orthodoxies.
Forty miles east of Yale, at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford, Conn., Martin Kettling, the literary manager, said he receives hundreds of new play submissions each year. While there were numerous political works with liberal takes on environmentalism, terrorism and the Bush administration in last year’s batch, Mr. Kettling said, “the vast majority of what I’m reading does not have a category.”
Still, for those who have actively sought to present a view from the right, they say they are presented with a problem that simply doesn’t exist on the left.
“I’ve never had a play come to me that I could say had a conservative perspective,” said Ms. Carey at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, adding that if anyone hears of a playwright with one in hand, “send him my way.”