LOS ANGELES — The conventional wisdom is that Hollywood has never before been so gaga over any candidate as she is now for Democratic Sen. Barack Obama. In addition to raking in Oprah-level campaign cash, Mr. Obama is making Sen. John McCain, despite the Republican’s comedic turns on “Saturday Night Live” and in “The Wedding Crashers,” look like an out-of-it grandfather.
While it is true that the ratio of Obama-to-McCain bumper stickers in West L.A. is about 250-to-1, there are untold closet Republicans in the entertainment industry who dare not advertise their beliefs in movie studio parking lots. (Unfortunately, car keying is a tactic wielded liberally by the self-described “tolerant.”)
But in this land of superficiality and augmented assets, the inconvenient truth is that, in Hollywood, absolute conformity to the Democratic Party is a well-constructed facade. The environment is not so much unfavorable to the Grand Old Party as it is utterly totalitarian. There’s simply no lifestyle choice that receives a worse response at dinner parties.
Convicted murderer? Has anyone optioned the rights to your story?
Avowed Marxist? Viva la revolucion!
Scientologist? Do you take Visa or Mastercard?
Syphilitic drug abuser? Let’s talk!
Conservative? You should go.
Only proclaiming one’s self a practicing Christian is met with greater disdain - making Christian Republicans the gold standard in Hollywood pariah status. Fortunately, their Savior - that dude from Mel Gibson’s highest-grossing blockbuster that was shunned by the major studios - wrote the script on how to live with an unpopular point of view.
Since the communist-sympathizing Jane Fonda aerobicized her way into the mainstream of Hollywood politics, and about the time that John Wayne died, most Republicans in Hollywood began to shut their mouths. Other Republicans attempt to win over the bullies by referring to themselves as “moderate,” “libertarian,” “independent,” “classical liberal,” “pragmatist” or “JFK Democrat.”
The tandem of social and vocational ostracism usually shuts down even the strongest voices. Yet recently during the “Iron Man” media blitz, a New York Times profile on Robert Downey Jr. featured the following quote buried in the 23rd paragraph: “I have a really interesting political point of view, and it’s not always something I say too loud at dinner tables here, but you can’t go from a $2,000-a-night suite at La Mirage to a penitentiary and really understand it and come out a liberal. You can’t. I wouldn’t wish that experience on anyone else, but it was very, very, very educational for me and has informed my proclivities and politics ever since.”
Yes we can!
Maybe the cryptic Mr. Downey now considers himself a French separatist? Or perhaps a Zapatista? The Hollywood dinner party test strongly hints that the talented actor has lurched rightward during his long road to recovery. Playwright David Mamet recently expressed a similar Road to Da Masses conversion. “I took the liberal view for many decades,” Mr. Mamet bravely wrote in a Village Voice op-ed, “but I believe I have changed my mind.”
Si se puede!
Two entertainment icons go against the political grain during ascendant Obama times, yet there’s nary a peep from the media heralding their journeys. And their peers ignore the rejection of their faith for fear of creating sequels.
Mr. Downey and Mr. Mamet have reached points high enough in the food chain where they won’t always be disinvited from macrobiotic power lunches. They join an elite brunch that includes Adam Sandler, Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton who also brazenly wear the Scarlet “R” in the middle of the school cafeteria.
Michael Crichton - who, to the chagrin of Al Gore, exposes “environmentalism as a religion” - and comic genius Dennis Miller show that there are cracks in the wall artificially separating Hollywood from much of America. This stealth contrarian trend (featuring high-end talent with iconoclastic reputations) could gain steam in an election featuring a “maverick” like Mr. McCain, who gives nervous showbiz conservatives far greater career cover than toxic avenger George W. Bush ever did.
When asked recently what it was like to work with “Republican” Clint Eastwood (the question speaks volumes), Angelina Jolie, a “surge” supporter who also wants to produce Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged,” surprised Entertainment Weekly with her answer: “Actually, we don’t disagree as much as you’d think. I think people assume I’m a Democrat. But I’m registered independent and I’m still undecided. So I’m looking at McCain as well as Obama.”
You hedge, girl.
The situation in Los Angeles is fundamentally different from that in Washington, D.C., where members of both parties openly embrace their party affiliation (for now). Republicans in the federal government accept that they are the freaks and geeks. Democrats, the “cool kids,” have their status affirmed by frequent jaunts to town by Hollywood’s “Creative Coalition” - bestowing upon our congressman, Henry A. Waxman, a status he certainly didn’t hold in 11th grade. Only a Democrat can recount sipping a latte with Christine Lahti.
In New York while the liberal mind-set dominates - especially in the media - there are enough dominant industries (i.e. Wall Street) in which free marketers flourish. So the outnumbered and the outshouted experience in Manhattan is tempered by pockets of confident oppositionism, which explains the rise of Rudy Giuliani.
But Los Angeles is a one-company town. And because of bullying (or what Democrats would call blacklisting or “political discrimination,” if the shoe were on the other foot), Hollywood has become a one-party town. History will show this dynamic hurt both the creative and the political processes.
In the absence of checks and balances, we end up with a system that creates a mainstream film about Ronald Reagan - written, produced and directed by narcissistic and myopic partisans who only viewed the Gipper through the lens of AIDS activism. Like anyone would watch an epic movie about America’s victory in the Cold War.
Oliver Stone - a left-wing conspiracy theorist - gets to take a cinematic stab at George W. Bush before he even leaves office. Thankfully, he assures us he will treat the subject evenhandedly.
Every big-screen cartoon warns toddlers of anthropogenic global warming or the wrongs of corporate America. It’s almost like they conceived a process to scientifically extract the joys from childhood.
There are tons of movies on Nazi Germany. But why the dearth of stories on the rise and fall of the Iron Curtain? Are there no stories of tragedy and triumph in the 100 million or so dead, or those who came out alive?
All historical political episodes are seen through the eyes of Democrat protagonists and Republicans are cast as the villains. If only the GOP could outsource its PR burden to the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). Those guys sure know how to erase negative stereotypes from the big screen.
More than a dozen box office failures vilify the troops without a single counterperspective seeing the light of day. Yet one positive Iraq war film, “Brothers at War,” dares to tell the story of a noble and patriotic American family - but it can’t find a distributor.
The litany of negative consequences to the ideological rigidity of modern Hollywood is virtually limitless. The lack of tension between competing ideas has made the arts increasingly tedious and rendered the celebrities woefully uninteresting.
What’s worse, when Mr. Obama can come to town to cherry-pick untold millions in donations - and Mr. McCain is shunned because a simple FEC search of his artsy donors could ruin a phalanx of careers (not to mention many Lexus paint jobs) - then something’s desperately wrong.
Andrew Breitbart is the founder of the news Web site breitbart.com and is co-author of “Hollywood Interrupted: Insanity Chic in Babylon - the Case Against Celebrity.”