There’s a strange non-review of An American Carol in last week’s Time magazine. It begins like this:
There are the things you admit to in Hollywood–that you’ve been to rehab, that you wrecked your first marriage, that it took 12 people to pick out your outfit. And then there’s the thing you don’t admit to: that you vote Republican. “I preface it by saying I’ve been convicted of child molestation, and that breaks the ice,” says director David Zucker of sharing his political views with liberal-leaning colleagues. “Then being Republican doesn’t seem so bad to them.”
You can read the rest here. Non-review movie articles are certainly not unheard of in the newsweeklies, though they often accompany a review, which is not the case here. It is also noteworthy that this article does not carry the byline of Richard Corliss, Time‘s main movie guy.
I would suggest that Time‘s curious treatment of this right-wing satire tells us a lot about how effective conservative criticism has been in spooking the “MSM” (MainStream Media) into a posture of cowering deference. I suspect that Time wouldn’t dare review this movie — rather, they wouldn’t dare review it negatively; and since the consensus of those who have reviewed it seems to be that it stinks, that means it’s safer not to review it at all.
There is a non-review story here, of course. Outright political satire (as opposed to anti-political, “equal-opportunity offender” stuff like the recent Kevin Costner bomb, Swing Vote) is rare in Hollywood cinema; satire from the right moreso.
But one looks to publications like Time to articulate Conventional Wisdom. And the CW here is encapsulated in that opening paragraph: Poor Hollywood Republicans — they’re victims of discrimination.
Of course “everybody knows” this is true — it’s Conventional Wisdom, after all. But it’s not true. It’s false on the face of it. Yes, there are some outspoken “Hollywood Liberals”: Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, Jane Fonda. Many other stars, screenwriters, directors, etc. are less outspoken, but “lean left.” And I don’t doubt Democrats outnumber Republicans in “the industry” — it is a creative community, after all, and creative types tend to put a premium on things like tolerance and freedom of speech, “liberal” values.
But conservatives, outnumbered as they may be, have never been in short supply in Tinsel Town. And many of them have had, and continue to have, thriving careers. The cast of American Carol includes Kelsey Grammar, James Woods, and Jon Voight. None of these guys is a big enough star to “open” a movie, but they’ve been very successful. Dennis Hopper, who also has a role in the film, has been even more ubiqitous lately than he was in his pre-conservative conversion days (in fact, he’s pictured in a full page ad for Crash, the Series immediately following this article in the print edition of Time).
John Wayne was a Republican. So was Jimmy Stewart. So was Charlton Heston. So, in fact, were all of the heads of the major studios, except for the Warner Brothers, back in the studio era. And for all the speculation that has occasionally surrounded Hollywood Liberals like Warren Beatty running for office, it is Hollywood Conservatives that have successfully “crossed over” into actual electoral politics, again and again: Ronald Reagan, George Murphy, Fred Grandy, Sonny Bono, Clint Eastwood, Arnold Schwarzeneggar.
More to the point, politics did not impede the Hollywood careers of any of these conservatives. This should not lead us to think the world of entertainment is a pure meritocracy (for how would you then explain Schwarzeneggar’s success as an “actor” — in “English-language” films?!). But the notion that being a conservative in Hollywood is a burden or a handicap doesn’t bear up under the slightest skepticism or scrutiny.
Fortunately, Zucker and company don’t have to worry about that from the intrepid newshounds at Time.