Tuesday, August 05, 2008

WILLING SUSPENSION OF DISBELIEF. When last we attended kulturkampfer Andrew Breitbart, he was telling us that the Hollywood blacklist of the 50s was nothing compared to the dirty looks conservatives get in filmland these days.

Now he devotes a Washington Times column to Jon Voight's recent right-wing ravings, which he claims were "swiftly attacked by establishment entertainment journalists expertly wielding the tools of the new McCarthyism." How's that for a hook: Voight is marked for death!

Those who are not fans of the genre may be disappointed at the thinness of the plot. When blogger Jeffrey Wells says of Voight, "I finally get what Angelina Jolie has been on about all these years," Breitbart thunders, "Mr. Wells went well below the belt by attacking Mr. Voight's parenting skills. And for what? Because one citizen expressed his contrarian political opinion in a town that doesn't embrace free speech anymore." Variety's Peter Bart repeats an anecdote demonstrating Voight's awareness of his own intellectual limitations; Breitbart, mortally offended, says that Bart is "desperately attempting to be as cruel as possible" (before repeating some dirt on Bart!), and announces, "[Bart's] message to Mr. Voight: You're dead. Hollywood never forgets."

Like I said, it's for fans -- if you're not familiar with the form, you may have trouble getting into the story, especially if you know that failure to toe the liberal line hasn't done much harm to Bruce Willis' career. Or Arnold Schwarzenegger's. Or Trey Parker's and Matt Stone's. Or Judd Apatow's, etc.

Breitbart anticipates this argument, but his rejoinder is less than convincing, and even less than coherent:
Those who argue that Mr. Wells' point of view is not representative of a larger mind-set among the Hollywood elite should think back to 2005, when Barbra Streisand publicly canceled her subscription to the Los Angeles Times for the crime of hiring a conservative to pen editorials a few times a week. That writer, Jonah Goldberg, went on to write the book "Liberal Fascism," which hit No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list. Perhaps the title resonated with the masses.
So Babs cancelled her subscription and Jonah Goldberg went to #1? What does that have to do with... well, anything? Never mind -- Breitbart throws us a twist ending ("Is it any wonder Jon Voight didn't have his opinions published in a hometown rag?") and brings up the closing credits. So it doesn't make sense -- neither does David Lynch! The critics will eat it up!

Competing for rightwing box-office is Weekly Standard's current cover story, "Hollywood Takes On The Left," which tells us about David "Airplane" Zucker's new comedy film, all about Rosie O'Donnell and Barack Obama and other deranged liberals. The cover promises an inspiring story of plucky wingnuts saving the day, but that's all marketing; Zucker and author Stephen Hayes know what the audience really wants when the lights go down, and they play it as a paranoid thriller. Zucker's partner, Steve McEveety, worries about losing his shirt. The star, Chris Farley's brother, says, "If it's the last movie I do, I'll go work for Steve's company." Zucker says he's "donated his career" to defeating Obama with this movie, and "Shouldn't I be allowed to say that?" and "Why can't I put it out there?" as if pleading for his little movie's life before a liberal death squad.

Yet such problems as Zucker et alia are having seem to be the kind any less-than-hot production company might reasonably expect ("Zucker had originally hoped to cast Dan Whitney aka Larry the Cable Guy as Malone, but a timing conflict kept him from getting it done"). But don't tell the wingnuts that. Their version of Hollywood entertainment doesn't come from movies, but from outrages. Breitbart and Hayes are those happiest of entertainment figures: showmen with a winning formula.

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