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Hollywood showdown: lefties v neo-cons
January 20, 2006 5:32 AM   Subscribe

Hollywood fights back: is this the year Hollywood finally nails its political colours to the mast, or are we seeing just the latest salvo in a battle for the political heart of the industry? [NYT registration required.] In the red corner, "uninformed, misleading, money-hungry, two-faced, elitists" making films about gays, feminists and commies. In the blue corner, "towering intellectuals, hard-core conservatives, supermen and superwomen, and just good common people" making films about god, democracy and family values. And if you wonder what difference it makes anyway, just ask eBay founder Jeff Skoll. He thinks films have the power to shape public opinion, and has launched a website to galvanise support for social change.
posted by londonmark (41 comments total)

 
Both of your corners seem to be on the same side. I'm confused.
posted by melt away at 5:41 AM on January 20, 2006


You know, I was thinking about what a terrible year Hollywood has had, and then I saw that they were making a movie wherein Adam Sandler has a magic TV remote, and then I thought, "oh."
posted by selfnoise at 5:52 AM on January 20, 2006


More fun that way? To me at least. There are way more loopy neo-cons blogging about this stuff than liberals.
posted by londonmark at 5:53 AM on January 20, 2006


Don't you mean, loopy liberals... or is it, dopey liberals?
posted by Witty at 6:04 AM on January 20, 2006


Neal Peart represents America because he's a Canadian who likes Ayn Rand? Huh?
posted by shecky57 at 6:13 AM on January 20, 2006


And Red Dawn on a list of Best Movies? Double huh?
posted by shecky57 at 6:15 AM on January 20, 2006


Yep. Dumbo too. Fab.
posted by londonmark at 6:17 AM on January 20, 2006


Witty -- not really living up to your username.

Red Dawn is a classic. At least the scriptwriters (if there were any) offered the Cubans a path to redemption.
posted by xpermanentx at 6:19 AM on January 20, 2006


I happen to think that It’s a Wonderful Life, which was #33 on The National Review's list is actually extremely liberal (despite the leanings of its director). George Bailey gives up dreams of riches and travel in order to help poor immigrants own their own homes. He has to battle against that shriveled old capitalist pig Mr. Potter. His speech when there is a run on the banks is all about individuals prospering most when they work together as a community. These all seem like the essence of liberalism.
posted by ND¢ at 6:28 AM on January 20, 2006


How did Ghostbusters slip in at #78?
"If we're wrong, we go to jail - peacefully, quietly. We'll enjoy it. But if I'm right, and we can stop this thing, Lenny, you will have saved the lives of millions of registered voters."
posted by Lord Kinbote at 7:02 AM on January 20, 2006


Actually, I sort of agree with Gerard Baker. While Brokeback Mountain seems to be everybody's favorite target these days, and undeservedly so, he's got a point. I remember when movies were entertaining, instead of a way to provide some social programming. Some of these films are like sitting through the adult version of "Davy and Goliath."

The worst part is that sites like participate.net will encourage and reward even more polarized tripe instead of true cinematic art, by encouraging folks to hand money over for crap like Syriana instead of reminding Hollywood that we like a little entertainment with the message. Instead of preaching to the choir, folks should be figuring out how to write and produce movies that bring in those who want to be entertained, and then slip some social messaging, subtly, in the middle of it.

(I know - we're Americans. We've given up on subtle and gone for strident.)

Yes, movies have the power to inspire, to educate, to open minds. But, if they're just tripe with an axe to grind, who cares? I mean, I'm quite liberal, but damn it, once in a while I'd like to have entertainment, not ideology, try to drive my entertainment dollar.
posted by FormlessOne at 7:04 AM on January 20, 2006


Wonderful Life has that liberal sort of up-from-under theme, but it is at times reactionary. Look where black people are in the ideal town of Bedford Falls (only appear as maids or in menial positions) versus Pottersville (Nick's Place plays jazz and there are blacks on the street).
When I blurted out in the theater, "Oh, My God, there are Negros on the street!" my satirical intent may have been misinterpreted.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:06 AM on January 20, 2006


"George Bailey gives up dreams of riches and travel in order to help poor immigrants own their own homes. These all seem like the essence of liberalism."

That's the essence of a fantasy no matter which political side you take.
posted by j.p. Hung at 7:10 AM on January 20, 2006


Piedmont Housing Alliance
posted by ND¢ at 7:17 AM on January 20, 2006


The requirements to be listed here are not membership in any particular political party -- only that you not be anti-American! Why is that so difficult for those who have benefitted so much from the American way of life?

In other words, if you see something you don't like, STFU, because that's what a good German American does: he toes the line. I grant you, I may not think Natalie Maines is the sharpest pencil in the box, but she's got every bit as much right to state her views in whatever forum she likes as Sean Hannity does (who gets paid millions to insult certain groups of Americans on a daily basis), and not be called "Anti-American".

This whole "debate" is just fucking moronic, if you ask me.
posted by psmealey at 7:36 AM on January 20, 2006


Brokeback Mountain really isn't an issue movie. Honest.
posted by jokeefe at 8:03 AM on January 20, 2006


I haven't seen Brokeback Mountain, and I don't intend to, but for the life of me I can't figure out what all the fuss is about. It's just another cowboy romance movie, right? It would probably bore me to tears.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:14 AM on January 20, 2006


Here's a big surprise: Twelve Angry Men isn't on the "conservative movies" list.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:23 AM on January 20, 2006




Joy Behar is a celebrity?
posted by youarenothere at 8:24 AM on January 20, 2006


I remember when movies were entertaining, instead of a way to provide some social programming.

Bread and circuses are social programming, too.

The Bicycle Thief, a movie about the soul-crushing effects of poverty and class inequality, is a CONSERVATIVE movie?
posted by papakwanz at 8:38 AM on January 20, 2006


Exactly, all art is political wheher it plans to be or not. (cf Brecht, and his Short Organum for Theatre) Even mindless entertainment counts as an ideological position, and I think any film that makes its political leanings clear is just being more honest than the usual tripe without an axe to grind. Even more so, taking a film like Syriana, one can find its ideology located not in the way it intersect with "the issues," but rather the way it eschews an Aristotelian narrative model in favor of a more holistic form of storytelling. Beyond the oil issue, in an ideological sense, Syriana's structure advocates a democratic cinema in which an audience member is expected to create his or her own meanings. Of course the strength of so many of the films on all those lists is that you could read a variety of contradictory meanings onto them, so yeah, i don't really feel like i'm being particularly coherent here... but every filim has an ideology. (and always has)
posted by jrb223 at 8:45 AM on January 20, 2006


The point about Brokeback Mountain, I think, is that it's the first mainstream film to depict love between two men who are the central protagonists and who do not fit into any gay stereotypes. They are let down by the prejudices of society and that, in a country where you can still be killed for your sexuality, is a political statement.

If the fuss is about nothing, it's because the film doesn't go far enough -- probably a trade-off for success. That Ennis requires the love of a daughter to be redeemed at the end is an unforgivable betrayal of the character, but I bet it pleased the execs. And there seems to be an unspoken agreement among critics that playing gay is demonstration of outstanding ability, which at its best is condescending to the actors, and at worst subliminal homophobia. I act straight all the time; it's really not hard.
posted by londonmark at 8:49 AM on January 20, 2006


Yeah, I'm crying foul. The underlying social/political/cultural message of movies has always been controvesial and commented upon, whether it's outright axe grinding or just subtly reinforcing the one view or another. The one of the most important films in the history of movie making is Griffith's 1915 "Birth of a Nation", famously portraying the KKK as heroic and black men as threatening to white women. The Hay's production codes of 1934 were put in place after the the Catholic Church threathened to boycott Hollywood for corrupting the morals of the America. And don't even get me started on the upsurdity of putting "It's a Wonderful Life" on the National Review list. Frank Capra was a lefty, and was investigated by HUAC for his communist leanings.

HUAC, for crissake! These issues are not new, in fact thing were much more contentious in the past.

Me thinks these articles and websites have been thrown together by people who don't really know much about Hollywood history. People only tend to notice when the axe being ground is from the opposing team, whereas movies that support your world view are "just" entertaining.
posted by tula at 9:01 AM on January 20, 2006


Brokeback Mountain really isn't an issue movie. Honest.

I beg to differ.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 9:01 AM on January 20, 2006


things were much more contentious...(to aggitated to type)
posted by tula at 9:04 AM on January 20, 2006


People only tend to notice when the axe being ground is from the opposing team, whereas movies that support your world view are "just" entertaining.

Amen.

Well... unless you're talking about the first Dirty Harry movie, which has a bit more to offer. That movie shows the corruption and injustice of the what the world has come to in the hands of the civil libertarian left, but later shows our hero taking the law into his own hands and doing what must be done to correct the shortcomings of that system.
posted by psmealey at 9:11 AM on January 20, 2006




thanks, psmealey, my first amen...and 'too' aggitated again, sheees!
posted by tula at 9:33 AM on January 20, 2006


Brokeback Mountain shouldn't be a big deal, but is. First for not playing the characters by sereotype. You can put gay men on the screen, as long as you swish them up or make them sensisitve and tragic. And second for revealing that there have been gay men outside of rural areas. These things shouldn't be big deals, but following after The Producers and Rent, it certainly is.

It is interesting that Ang Lee wrote and directed one of the few other gay comedy/dramas that don't make me cringe: The Wedding Banquet.

I read something by Whoppi Goldberg a while ago in which she proposed that just as black performers had to graduate from blackface, to comic stereotypes, to tragic issue movies, to roles where a character just happens to be black, that gays and lesbians will follow the same trajectory.

I think that Hollywood peddles just as much feel-good jingoism and family-friendly pap as liberal critiques. How much money does Bruckheimer rake in on movies and television?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:43 AM on January 20, 2006


Glad to see Rocky 3 on that list, LarryC. Gayest movie evar.
posted by sciurus at 9:59 AM on January 20, 2006


To complement (and to some extent overlap) the lists of conservative and liberal movies given in the original post, here are a couple of lists of libertarian movies.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:05 AM on January 20, 2006




While Brokeback Mountain seems to be everybody's favorite target these days, and undeservedly so, he's got a point. I remember when movies were entertaining...

Did you see Brokeback Mountain? I was entertained. I didn't think it was nearly as sad as everyone else. 4 stars.

I didn’t even want to see ‘Cold Mountain',” protests one.

Heh. Me neither.

America is a much more diverse place than we’re given credit for.

Amen. And much less at the same time.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:04 AM on January 20, 2006


'Brokeback Mountain': A Hit with Red State Women.

I guess they also like to see two guys getting it on.
posted by gyc at 11:42 AM on January 20, 2006


Brokeback Mountain really isn't an issue movie. Honest.

I beg to differ.

My feeling is it's about as much an issue movie as La Boheme is an urgent polemic about the need for universal health care and the invention of penicillin.

Which I suppose it could be seen as, in some ways.
posted by jokeefe at 11:49 AM on January 20, 2006


Don't all movies have "issues"? Just picking three out at random: Blade Runner, The Assassination of Richard Nixon, Dead Man (name the connection!).
posted by mrgrimm at 12:21 PM on January 20, 2006


"And there seems to be an unspoken agreement among critics that playing gay is demonstration of outstanding ability, which at its best is condescending to the actors, and at worst subliminal homophobia."

Oh, come on, londonmark!

There is no such single thing as "playing gay" in BBM.
Both actors had a hell of a lot more to accomplish than that. The "gay" part is an essential facet, true - but still just a part of their characters -and their destiny - in the film.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 1:51 PM on January 20, 2006


BTW, please don't shout if this is really old hat.

But I've only just seen the red state update Brokeback clip - and it is so perfectly, utterly brilliant for those who think they surely must have seen/read the last word on the film.
It's at:http://www.travisandjonathan.com/redstateupdate6.html
(Again sorry, I don't know how to do the live link thing. But god, it's worth it!)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 2:00 PM on January 20, 2006


(Again sorry, I don't know how to do the live link thing. But god, it's worth it!)

1) Highlight the word(s) you want to link.
2) Click the "link" button.
3) Enter the link into the pop-up
4) Click OK


It's hard to mess up a good Western, no matter what you put in it.

Ha. Kinda funny.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:54 PM on January 20, 2006


mrgrimm,
Thanks.
(I think I'll have to quietly email you tomorrow, if you don't mind - because I'm still being spectacularly, embarrassingly thick about this link thing. But thanks "in public" for trying to help a luddite...)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 8:41 PM on January 20, 2006


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