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News flash! Hollywood is full of liberals! Good thing the Terminator is looking for work…

May 31, 2011

Ben Shapiro with America's no. 1 torture hero, Jack Bauer.

Apparently under the mistaken assumption they live in a free country, 70 Hollywood figures have “admitted” to Ben Shapiro, the Justin Bieber of right-wing punditry, that they are liberals. This hardly qualifies as news, but for a tireless careerist  like Shapiro, it’s an “expose” of a “radical” leftist agenda.

“I was shocked by the openness of the Hollywood crowd when it came to admitting anti-conservative discrimination inside the industry,” Shapiro told The Independent on Sunday. “They weren’t ashamed of it. In fact, some were actually proud of it.”

“Anti-conservative discrimination?” You mean having an opinion and expressing it in a creative work product like a TV show or a movie? Isn’t that what we used to call “free speech?” I guess Shapiro next will call for conservative hiring quotas in Hollwyood.

By “anti-conservative bias” Shaprio also means “liberalism.” Imagine that, being proud of having principles in common with FDR, or Martin Luther King, Jr., or Dorothy Day, or Clarence Darrow, or Theodore Roosevelt, or James Agee, or Woody Guthrie, or Jane Addams, or John Wesley Powell, or Harry Truman, or Robert Kennedy, or Pete Seeger, or Alexander Hamilton, or Susan B. Anthony.

How un-American!

Shapiro, of course, has wrung a book out of what everyone else since, oh, the Eisenhower administration, knows simply by being awake. With typical righty hysteria, it’s called Prime Time Propaganda: The True Hollywood Story of How the Left Took Over Your TV.

What exactly does Shapiro find so “shocking?” According the Independent, Shapiro is aghast to learn that “Sesame Street” taught civil disobedience, that “Happy Days” had an “anti-Vietnam subtext,” and that “MacGyver” carried an anti-gun message.

At this point, let me admit that I’m attacking Shapiro’s book without having read it. Read it? I don’t have to read it: His premise is ridiculous on its face. No amount of “reporting,” or “analysis,” or whatever attributes he might claim, and which I would then have to place between quotes to denote my skepticism, can rescue it.

I’m not saying Hollywood is anything but predominately liberal. I’m saying: What’s wrong with that?

1. I don’t know about you, but I learned about civil disobedience not from “Sesame Street,” but in my ninth-grade English class. I’m guessing Shapiro thinks Walden Pond should be tossed in favor of Atlas Shrugged.

2. By 1974, when “Happy Days” first aired, almost the entire country had turned against the Vietnam War.

3. If “Macgyver,” a harmless action-adventure show, had an anti-gun message then advertisers who bought all those trillions of dollars of commercials over the decades are fools, because, clearly, TV can’t influence human behavior. Are guns illegal? Have people stopped shooting each other?

Apparently in that alternate universe I think of as Conservative Land, it’s perfectly okay for billionaire rightests like the Koch brothers to use their power and influence to promote conservative views and causes, yet there’s something amiss if, say, Gene Roddenberry inserts a diversity message into an episode of “Star Trek?”


The really salient fact, though, is that at bottom Hollywood is neither liberal nor conservative. Tinsel town political views are what’s called epiphenomena, the froth atop the wave. Hollywood’s real business is business — all that matters is making money.

That’s why “radical” Hollywood produced a hit TV show, “24,” that was little more than a prolonged commercial for torture in the war on terror. There was also “The Unit” (2006-2009), a show that mythologized the exploits of a secret commando corps.

And what about “Blue Bloods,” the current hit cop/family drama starring Tom Selleck, one of Hollywood’s most prominent Republicans?

What’s that? You didn’t know there were any Republicans in Hollywood? Ah, but there is– a minority, true, but more than you could imagine. You may have heard that Patricia Heaton is a Republican, she got a lot of press for it a year or two ago. Likewise Joel Surnow, the outspoken producer of “24.”

And of course Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former Republican governor of California, whose brand-new disgrace in an ever-widening sex scandal shows (yet again!) that libidinally impaired judgment is a bi-partisan affliction. Right now I bet he’s consulting with Bill Clinton on what the definition of “is” is.

But comedian Drew Care? Yup. Also: Adam Sandler, Heidi Montag, Gary Sinise, James Woods, Shannon Doherty, Robert Duval, Bruce Willis, Mel Gibson, Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, Heather Locklear, Kid Rock, Jessica Simpson, Kelsey Grammar, Britny Spears, Angie Harmon, Kevin Sorbo, Matt LaBlanc, Rick Dees, Sela Ward, Yaphet Koto, Andy Garcia and (say it ain’t so, Buffy!) Sarah Michelle Gellar, to name but a few.

Even some  ’60s counterculture heroes could not resist the siren call of conservativism, once they got some age on their faces, some money in the wallets, and some career standing: Sonny Bono, for example. Rip Torn. Jon Voight. Dennis “Easy Rider” Hopper, for pete’s sake!

And lest you think it’s all actors (“Actors are cattle.” –Alfred Hitchcock), there are Republicans behind the camera, too: Sam Raimi, Clint Eastwood, Frank Miller, John Milius, David Zucker, David Mamet, Stephen McEveety, Candace Bushnell, Andrew Klavan, James Ellroy, Stephane Meyer, David Greenwalt, John Hughes, Meg Kelly, Tom Minear, Vincent Gallo (!), William Friedkin, to name some directors, producers and writers.

The National Review Online even managed to put together a list of the 25 “Best Conservative Movies,” and by my estimation they missed a bunch:  Anything with Bruce Willis, Chuck Norris, Steven Seagall, or Tom Hanks. Saving Private Ryan. Sin City. Star Wars. Blue Valentine, and any other movie in which a pregnant woman elects to keep the baby (which seems to be all of them, these days).

Really, Shapiro is playing a common transparent righty gambit here — loudly overstating a case that’s either false or not that big of a deal. It’s what Eric Alterman called “working the refs” in his essential 2004 book, What Liberal Media? The Truth About Bias and the News. Righty pundits cry bias, or “discrimination,” knowing they have no case, in hopes of moving the accepted normal standards to the right.

Hollywood is liberal? That’s not news. And here is something else that shouldn’t be news, but apparently somehow is:  Liberalism is as American as apple pie. Or free speech.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Candice Simmons permalink
    May 31, 2011 1:37 pm

    The beauty of America is that we co-exist at work, at home, at play. It’s a good thing. It’s the right (and left) thing.

    • Chauncey Mabe permalink*
      May 31, 2011 1:50 pm

      That may be the ideal, but it’s not the strategy currently employed by the righty punditocracy, where, in the infamous words of Ann Coulter, just having liberal views makes me a “traitor.”

  2. May 31, 2011 2:47 pm

    That is right. If you think, give a dam and try to help society you are a traitor and should be killed. According to “Ann The black Widow Coulter”. The country is under attack to take much of your rights away while telling you the opposite. Even the moderate republicans are being run out. Where is Tom Sellick when you need him. I heard he want to play the role of Charston Heston. I have said this before. The Best Dam Double Date In The Country. Mike McCann, Ann Coulter, James Carville and Mary Matilin. Made for prime time. Would we make it through a glass of wine?

  3. Candice Simmons permalink
    May 31, 2011 2:57 pm

    Yes, but they are going nowhere.

  4. Manuel permalink
    June 20, 2011 8:53 pm

    So, if you give birth to your baby, you’re a conservative? If only.

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