December 7, 2005


Hollywood Ending? (Edward B. Driscoll, Jr., 12/06/05, Tech Central Station)

Andrew Breitbart, the co-author, with Mark Ebner, of Hollywood, Interrupted, and the West Coast Editor of The Drudge Report, explained to me recently that Hollywood's current star driven-production system plays a huge factor in Tinseltown's woes.

"Just like the old studio system needed to be overturned", Breitbart observes, "so does the current anti-studio system. The current system is one in which stars have undue power, and they're not necessarily the best arbiters of taste. As a matter of fact, since they're the ones in charge, and artists in Hollywood tend to be left of center, and tend to agree with one another, and tend to not really hear the other side whatsoever, I think that the disconnect that exists in Hollywood, which far exceeds just the political realm, is best represented, and is easiest seen, through the political realm".

Using George Clooney's new Syriana as one of his examples, Breitbart says, "I thought that Hollywood, in another era, would be, by virtue of the marketplace, trying to appease the masses. And in a post-9/11 world, there would have been countless movies that expressed the heroism that existed on that utterly important day". Instead, Hollywood spent the first three years after 9/11 in a period that James Lileks once dubbed, "The golden era of beating around the bush".

This was followed in 2004 by the golden era of beating up the Bush, with numerous lefty films such as Fahrenheit 9/11, The Day After Tomorrow, the inferior remake of The Manchurian Candidate, and others.

Finally, in 2005, Hollywood began to address terrorism and its accompanying geopolitics head-on. Well, sort of, at first. As columnist Mark Steyn wrote this past spring:

"The Sean Penn thriller, The Interpreter, was originally about Muslim terrorists blowing up a bus in New York. So, naturally, Hollywood called rewrite. Now the bus gets blown up by African terrorists from the little-known republic of Matobo. 'We didn't want to encumber the film in politics in any way,' said Kevin Misher, the producer.

"But being so perversely 'non-political' is itself a political act. If there were a dozen movies in which Tom Cruise kicked al-Qa'eda butt across the Hindu Kush, it would be reasonable to say, 'Hey, we'd rather deal with Matoban terrorism for a change.'

"But, when every movie goes out of its way to avoid being 'encumbered', it starts to look like a pathology. Whenever some hapless studio exec finds he's accidentally optioned a property that happens to have Islamist terrorists in it, the first thing he does is change the enemy. Thus, the baddies in Tom Clancy's The Sum of All Fears were de-Islamicised and transformed into German neo-Nazis, a very pressing threat to America in 2005."

Hollywood is only just now beginning to release films that actually focus directly on the War On Terror. And what does it do? In films such as Syriana, Jarhead, and others, Breitbart observes that Hollywood comes at its political statements "from the perspective that really, we're the ones who are to blame for the predicament that we find ourselves in".

Funny bit on NPR yesterday as Robert Siegel introduced a story on Syriana with a glowing recommendation about how compelling the film is. Journalistic objectivity doesn't long survive the encounter with Leftist agitprop.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 7, 2005 12:41 PM

The other thing to note about contemporary Hollywood is that while the stars have the power and are in general liberal, the folks who raise the money also generally share that view. That's why a star who suddenly decides to get serious and do films with a political message can survive a series of box-office duds, because they can schmooze their backers better on ideological topics. Those who are either non-ideological or who are (gasp!) openly conservative have to live and die far more by their most recent box office recepits.

Posted by: John at December 7, 2005 1:11 PM

Looks like Mel Gibson"s gonna live.

Posted by: jdkelly at December 7, 2005 1:55 PM


Exactly. Because of his outspoken politics, Alec Baldwin is no longer bankable to headline an A-list picture. But because of his politics, he'll never lack for work in supporting roles.

Posted by: Ed Driscoll at December 7, 2005 2:03 PM

If he gets any fatter, Baldwin can pick up where Marlon Brando left off.

Posted by: erp at December 7, 2005 5:45 PM

Ah, but Baldwin was great in Hunt for Red October. Too bad he didn't continue with the franchise.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at December 7, 2005 6:56 PM

Syriana sounds pretty much like Clooney's last Iraq movie "Three Kings". That movie sucked so bad that all the Harley's in the parking lot got suck-started. And yet the critics all raved how good it was.

Posted by: ray at December 7, 2005 8:36 PM

But "Three Kings" was good in comparison, It even
unintentionally made the case for this war; If it
were made today; they'd be applauding the gunning
down of the Kurs, but blame it on Halliburton.

Posted by: narciso at December 8, 2005 10:18 AM