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May 22, 2010

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otherbill

The fact that he took time to write out that little recruiting scriptlette is... astounding.

I briefly worked at a law office that sublet an office space to Andrew Klavan. I he could afford that, he's doing a fair bit better than any of the working writers I know.

otherbill

Ya know- that bit on Klavan is cheap. I worked in that office years ago and I don't know the guy or his situation. Kindly consider it retracted.

That'll learn me to post before my morning coffee.

The Siren

There are several ways to go about treating the Hollywood blacklist era if you're a dogmatic conservative who either hasn't actually read much about the era, or is busy ignoring the stuff you have read. There's the "they had it coming" school, like the guy at the old Libertas who told me in all seriousness that John Garfield was a threat to national security. There's the "it wasn't that bad" school that declares those blacklisted were basically a bunch of whiners who could go to Europe and work with all the Commies they wanted, so what's the problem? And then there's the increasingly popular "me too, Ma" school that attempts to equate frosty stares at cocktail parties with unemployment, surveillance, political exile, being forced to work under a pseudonym and of course, having to testify under threat of fine or imprisonment.

I'll believe in this "conservative blacklist" when John gets his passport revoked.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.

I'll believe in this "conservative blacklist" when John gets his passport revoked.

I'll go further than that. I want to hear about conservatives being the victims of mistaken identity, having to have other writers front for them and ultimately jumping out of hotel windows.

Glenn Kenny

Lionel Chetwynd probably WOULD jump out of a hotel window, but he'd probably die of a stroke before he could actually get the thing open.

Sorry. That was really below me. And yet I enjoyed it. What can I say.

Zach

What's really scary/depressing about that piece is that Nolte considers being "a global warming skeptic" to be a NORMAL, non-crazy feature of the "conservative side." That is, if he's on the level, which I assume he is.

Ed Hulse

Participating in discussions like this one is always a no-win proposition for me, and I'll probably wish I'd kept my mouth shut, but here goes....

I don't defend or minimize the blacklist (although I'll admit to being at least partially simpatico with what the Siren categorizes as "the 'it wasn't that bad' school"), but to intimate that Hollywood doesn't discriminate against conservative filmmakers because they aren't jumping out of hotel windows is wildly disingenuous, if not downright fatuous. And I wouldn't blithely discount "frosty stares at cocktail parties" in a town and an industry so keenly fixated on networking. If Hollywood righties aren't being blacklisted, why are so many of them still afraid to be identified as having conservative views? Why is it that any writer in town can get a pitch meeting if he has a script critical of the Iraq or Afghan war -- even though not one such movie has turned a profit -- when writers with scripts that take an opposing view can't get the time of day?

I know a few Hollywood conservatives who are active in the business. Only one of them is "out of the closet," principally because he's been a writer and producer of two consecutive hit series. He's admitted to me that, were he not a marketable commodity on that account, he would not be so sanguine about his future prospects.

As for the cheap shots by Glenn and otherbill...no worries. We're used to them.

Glenn Kenny

Re "cheap shots:" Ed, as you actually know, I'm hardly a reflexive conservative-basher. I maintain unreserved admiration for the likes of Koestler, Chambers, Conquest, Caldwell and others—men of the right who can actually think and write. But Chetwynd and his buddy Roger Simon are smug, fatuous, pandering hacks. And as long as Nolte continues formulating his arguments in the mode of a not-particularly-bright 12-year-old ("Wear your Factor gear"?? Seriously? That's what you want to wave a flag for?), cheap shots are pretty much all he's likely to solicit, or deserve for that matter. Don't even get me started on the guy's ostensible "Christianity."

hisnewreasons

Conservatives say that they can't make the movies they want to make? To that I respond -- Welcome to Hollywood. Bitch. Who the hell ever does get to make their dream project? I'm inclined to dismiss this ahistorical talk about 'blacklisting' as another variation of 'whose-dick-is-he-sucking' gripes aimed at the writer who actually had his screenplay greenlighted.

And, yes, sometimes that writer has sucked the right dick. Or they are poltically sympatico with someone. Or their daddy has a friend who has a friend. Name one industry where that sort of advantage can't occur. And name one workplace where people haven't, for one reason or another, kept their mouth shut for the sake of a job.

It's one thing to ask for a workplace without fear of Controversial Topics creating disharmony. It's another thing to speak from a soul deep in resentment and personal entitlement; to claim exemption from the usual personal navigation everybody has to do at some stage in their life.

And that is the reason why I have no sympathy for some Republican who probably got paid fifty-grand to do a rewrite on the Marmaduke movie while I'm working for twelve dollars a hour.

Jaime

The problem with the current state of the conservative viewpoint/Republican party leadership is that they've allowed their image to be co-opted by clowns whose harangues and diatribes bear no resemblance to traditional Repub/con arguments - arguments that, taken in conjunction with the *actual* (rather than advertised) lib-Dem platform, would *actually* form a constructive back-and-forth in our government, on Main St/Wall St, etc.

At the moment, however, what we think of when we talk about the Repubs/cons is the unfortunate Glenn Beck, Rand Paul, and so on. If I was a Repub/con I think I'd be downright embarrassed.

Find myself sympathetic to "hisnewreasons"'s bucket of cold water. Claiming, "I'm not getting ahead, must be me politics" is a bit of a lazy line.

Peter Nellhaus

I'll believe there's a blacklisting of conservatives when Kelsey Grammer and Jon Voight are reported begging for work.

NickHangsOutOnSunset

I've believed for a long time that feeling put upon is 75 percent of being a late 20th or early 21st century conservative. I've also noticed that in the rare instances where a conservative rises to the challenge of producing a concrete example of harmful bigotry the example is either ancient, insignificant or both. A case in point is another Big Hollywood post that ran just three days before Nolte's written by Dan Gifford. Gifford starts by saying "It (the Hollywood blacklist) exists as certainly as political correctness and passive-aggressiveness exist in Hollywood ... it abounds and destroys the talented." He goes on to back this up with two case studies. The first involves a dead film and TV who I've never heard of director named Alex Grasshoff. According to Gifford, Grasshoff lost his "best friends and Hollywood standing" when he produced a short for the RNC backing the re-election of Richard Nixon. Yes, I said, Richard Nixon. That would be in 1972. Thirty-eight years ago. Doesn't matter to Big Hollywood, it's incontrovertible proof that Hollywood is trying to destroy them now, in 2010. And Grasshoff's dire fate? Reduced to directing episodes of CHiPS and Night Stalker.

Gifford's second example is just as risible. He heard from a writer on L.A. Law (a very popular show in the late 1980s, also known as 20 years ago) about another writer who wasn't permitted to work on the show because of his right wing politics. Years later, in 1991, a writer named Neil Shulman told Gifford that he was denied work on L.A. Law because of his right-wing politics. Gifford has decided that the two writers are the same and let's Shulman go on for a number of paragraphs about his travails at the time. In a nutshell, Shulman had a great meeting with a supervising producer at L.A. Law and submitted a dozen story ideas. The producer gushed and gushed and between that meeting and the next one Shulman wrote an Op-Ed in the L.A. times. After that, all his story ideas were rejected and he never went to cocktail party with anyone from L.A. Law ever again. In other words, they rejected me after telling me how fabulous I was, therefore I'm being discriminated against. This was, I can only conclude, Shulman's first day in Hollywood.

The gap between the magnitude of claims alleged and the feeble scraps of evidence advanced to support them is so huge that it make liars and crybabies out of Nolte, Breitbart, Gifford (and Beck and O'Reilly and et al) and a political movement that prides itself on its Spartan virtues.

hisnewreasons

There's another thing I've noticed about artistically-inclined righties. They complain about not being respected by other conservatives. Sample from Andrew Klavan -- "Many conservatives often seem to have given up on culture or not to care. There’s a strong strain of philistinism on the right." I hope Klavan was wearing a black turtleneck and smoking a clove cigarette when he wrote that.

This particular well of self-pity doesn't strike me so much as being stereotypically Republican as stereotypically Hollywood.

D Cairns

Let's not forget that, even supposing a prejudice against conservative talent, there's a difference between feeling you'd better keep quiet on political subjects for fear of losing work, and having detectives follow you around and interview your friends and neighbours in order to dig up "dirt" on you. It often simply wasn't an option for Hollywood lefties in the blacklist era to keep their politics to themselves.

Stephen Bowie

Blacklisting means you don't get to work, period, not that you "only" get to work on CHiPs and THE NIGHT STALKER.

I looked up that Dan Gifford article, and his comparisons between the '50s blacklist and his alleged "conservative blacklist" are specious and offensive.

Jeff McM

Complaining that Hollywood is too full of liberals is like complaining that the NBA is too full of African-Americans.

bill

So, let me sum up: being a Conservative in Hollywood does restrict your employment options, but because it's not as bad as the Blacklist, it's fine.

Glenn Kenny

I think we're placing too much emphasis on the conservative aspect here, and not enough on the dink. It's true that liberal dinks in Hollywood tend to get a fairer shake than conservative dinks, but that doesn't make them not dinks. My whole point is that bumper stickers are for dinks, period. (OK, except for the one that Negativeland was marketing around the time of "Escape From Noise," the one that read "Car Bomb." Now THAT was a funny bumper sticker...) And that John "Factor gear" Nolte is the King of Dinkdom, and he would be even if he was the world's most tireless rescuer of baby seals.

Fuzzy Bastard

@ bill: I believe the summary is more like, "Given that being a conservative in Hollywood is nothing at all like being on the McCarthy-era blacklist, comparing the occasional frosty stare to being subpoenaed before Congress is ridiculous."

Stephen Whitty

"Factor gear" had me laughing. Mostly because I first read it as "Factory gear," and had some image of overpaid screenwriters slouching around West Hollywood in "Love Will Tear Us Apart" T-shirts or something.

Frank McDevitt

"Factor gear"? That's actually a thing?

Glenn Kenny

@ Frank McDevitt: Indeed. I sometimes forget this blog has an international audience, or at least one that doesn't have the same compulsion to expose itself to Fox News as I do. "Factor gear" is that which Bill O'Reilly, the host of the Fox News program "The O'Reilly Factor," hawks from his show and his website. You know, baseball caps, tote bags, t-shirts, that kinda stuff. You can shop for it here:

http://www.billoreilly.com/store

As you can see it's all top quality stuff that in no way screams "dink" at the top of its lungs, no way, no how.

Frank McDevitt

Oh I'm an American, fully aware of Bill O'Reilly and whatnot...but I had no idea that he had his own merchandise, let alone the fact that it went by the embarrassed-goosebumps inducing nickname "Factor gear".

Jeff

The point is that most of us have jobs in the real world in which it is best to keep your politics to yourself in order to get along, network, and be successful. Surely, if I can keep my strong political opinions to myself in my workplace, those in Hollywood can do the same.

As has been pointed out, liberals in the McCarthy era were not given the option of keeping their politics to themselves. If they were remotely suspected of having leftist sympathies, people would go through their trash and harass their families to find out what political organizations they were a member of, and force them to testify before congress about it. There are plenty of smart conservatives in Hollywoodland who have strong political convictions, but don't feel the need to make those convictions the focus of their professional lives. Read the thoughtful interview with smart conservative Robert Duvall in the current Film Comment. He comments on this issue directly.

Jeff McMahon

Exactly. The issue here isn't 'people with conservative opinions have trouble keeping jobs'. It's 'jackasses who turn every conversation into politics are difficult to get along with'.

hisnewreasons

I worked for a year in a place where a radio played Rush Limbaugh and Bob Grant on a daily basis. So I'm actually sympathetic with conservatives actors, writers, etc. when they end up in a place where liberal actors, writer, etc. loudly talk trash about their political party.

My sympathies end when they start asserting that liberals would obviously recognize their genius if they weren't ideologically blinded. Or believe that any sense of decorum should be abandoned. 'Cause this sort of thing cuts both ways. If you want to joke, as Andrew Klavan did, that liberals are just like rapists, then why should you be surprised when liberals don't want to work with you?

And while we're at it, why would a conservative want to work in Hollywood? If you believe that Hollywood is equivalent to the Vichy government -- thank you again, John Nolte! -- why degrade yourself? As Roy Edroso has asked, why doesn't some conservative sugar daddy put together a Republican alternative? (Well, there's an obvious answer which probably doesn't need saying.)

bill

That's so funny, because I was just about to post this: "Why doesn't a Conservative simply build a whole new Hollywood from scratch? Should be easy."

Also, I wonder if Righties couldn't simply leave America and start their own country? Worth thinking about? What do you guys think?

Ed Hulse

Let me get this straight: If you're a conservative in Hollywood and want to get work, keep your "strong political opinions" to yourself. If you're a liberal, however, feel free to trumpet your political views as often as possible during concert tours, awards presentations, press-junket interviews, and talk-show appearances. And whatever you do, never, ever pass up an opportunity to take a shot at George W. Bush or Sarah Palin or Glenn Beck. Okay, got it.

Glenn Kenny

Jeez. Well, Ed, some people may be saying what you're saying they're saying, but I ain't one of them. Just for the record, I thought George Clooney's "Liberals have always been on the right side" pontifications a few years back to be both, yes, staggeringly historically inaccurate and personally embarrassing, and I say that as a guy who's both a fan of Clooney and something of a liberal. I rely on movie stars to inform my political views about as much as I trust Jonathan Safran Foer for barbecuing tips. But nothing Clooney has ever said even holds a candle for sheer loony offensiveness to, for instance, Jon Voight's fulminations about "socialism" (kind of like the Monty Python bit where the guy finds a Communist peeping out of his wive's blouse), Beck's teary-eyed, eschatological snake-oil salesmanship, or even Andrew Klavan's smirky, smug rape analogies. I understand that some non-lunatic conservatives might look at these guys and see some kind of payback in the form of resolute in-your-face conviction, but by the same token...well, it's not exactly winning stuff to anyone who's on the fence, or who's read their Hofsteader. I'm not even gonna get into the sheer ridiculousness of the implicit attempt to claim victim status for Bush, Palin or Beck. My heart absolutely bleeds, particularly for W.

My point being, not that I'm drawing any kind of moral equivalency here, but merely a stylistic one: You should remember what John Lennon said about carrying pictures of Chairman Mao.

UPDATE: In the Jonah-Goldberg-Commemorative "Which Only Strengthens My Point" Department, see Jeffrey Jena's 700-plus-word rant on being defriended on Facebook by Elaine Boosler:

http://bighollywood.breitbart.com/jjena/2010/05/24/elayne-boosler-unfriended-me-on-facebook-for-being-conservative/#more-347670

...right below John Nolte calling a Two-Minute Hate on Stu VanAirsdale. As I said. Dinks.

hisnewreasons

To Ed Hulse --

Seems like the goalposts are being moved quite a bit. At first, this was about whether Republicans can find work in the entertainment industry and if this was the equivalent of the fifties blacklist. Now it's about whether they can shoot their mouths off like Sean Penn.

Well, they can shoot their mouths off, just like I could have shot my mouth off years ago in that Limbaugh-friendly workplace. But they shouldn't be surprised when that creates tension on the set -- an area already at risk for conflict due to money, sexual affairs and egos.

That's not a conspiracy. That's just life.

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