Hollywood's Pious Hypocrisy
Hypocrisy is endemic in Hollywood. That is one reason Barack Obama and other Democrats feel so welcome there. Hypocrisy is a wide spectrum disorder in Hollywood. Similar to a virus, it has many types and mutates as time goes by. There are the obvious displays.
However, one form of hypocrisy mostly escapes notice, and it cuts to the heart of the Democrats' phony posturing. President Obama slammed Mitt Romney for the same thing during the campaign but, of course, is silent when it comes to celebrities. Its practice may also be responsible for the sheer mediocrity of movies.
Hollywood stars routinely tout the virtues of the little guy battling the rich and powerful. They are legendary in their support for the income-leveling agenda of Barack Obama-while enjoying a sybaritic lifestyle (multiple houses, servants, nannies to act as proxy parents, chauffeurs) that make them the 1% of the 1%. They have access to private planes (John Travolta has a veritable air fleet) to avoid long lines and exposure to the hoi polloi at airports. These are the same planes that Barack Obama condemned while vilifying the rich. Of course, Barack Obama and his family hypocritically revel in the same luxe lifestyle.Fat cats abound in Hollywood-anyone think Obama would scathingly attack them as he has other wealthy figures?
Of course, this lifestyle sucks up as much energy as Al Gore does calories. The carbon used up by giant and multiple houses, the limos, and other accoutrements of great wealth cannot possibly be paid back to Mother Earth by showy driving around of donated Teslas. Meanwhile, Matt Damon uses Arab oil wealth to campaign against the miracle of fracking that has saved Americans many billions of dollars through cheap and relatively green natural gas and oil, while enriching communities and the "little people" across America.
In films over the last half century, villains such as terrorists, communists and criminals have been moved to the prop warehouses while the new villain has been spotlighted: big bad corporate America. The China Syndrome and Silkwood all but killed off companies involved in the nuclear renaissance in America, even though both were filled with fabrications (even the New York Times criticized Silkwood for its dishonesty). The tale of blue-collar Erin Brokovich battling a chemical company over a purported cancer-causing chemical in the eponymous movie was just that -- a tale that liberal media outlet Salon exposed as built on one inaccuracy after another. Scientists have attacked the basic premise around which the movie revolves. Ms. Brokovich has since made a career of using junk science (in the view of TIME magazine) to generate wealth for herself.
The biggest inconvenient truth about Al Gore's Oscar-winning Inconvenient Truth was that it was largely propaganda -- lacking scientific validity. But does that matter to the voters in the Academy, most of whom lack college degrees, and some of whom, for example, leading liberal Barbara Streisand cannot even spell? Recall that Barack Obama called Republicans members of the flat-earth society who do not believe in science.
Who cares about science when white, Republican corporate America can be indicted on movie screens across America?
Many such movies fantasize politicians in bed with corporate titans -- crony capitalists whose friends in high places in Washington and other political centers of power grant them lucrative favors (see, for one example, State of Play where a private security company corrupts Washington). Meanwhile, as Glenn Reynolds notes, Hollywood takes advantage of tax loopholes to avoid paying its "fair share" and pulls strings in cities and states across America to be granted tax breaks, credits and outright "gifts" of money as inducements to film in certain locations. Studies have shown this comes at the expense of taxpayers and provides no economic benefit to anyone other than residents of Hollywood. The taxpayers-the little people-get screwed to reward the moguls of La-La land. Reynolds wryly comments this is not the tax story they will tell at the Oscars.
Yet what to make of the close ties between Hollywood titan Jeffrey Katzenberg and Obama? This movie mogul mega-donor was eager to tap into the Chinese market and funneled millions of dollars into the Obama campaign -- including a single event that raised far more than any other event for Obama.
Was there a payback?
Katzenberg's studio has landed a private and lucrative deal with the son of former Communist Party leader and Chinese President Jiang Zemin to obtain access to the Chinese market and to open a studio in Shanghai. That studio will help Katzenberg work around quotas on foreign-made films being allowed to enter China
The deal was made possible with help from the Obama administration who arranged a meeting between Katzenberg and top Chinese leaders. Directly after that meeting, Chinese officials flew out to Los Angeles to sign the deal. The Sunlight Foundation, the good government group, asked if this deal was fast-tracked and made possible because Katzenberg was such an important donor to Obama.
Perhaps that question was merely rhetorical. After all, crony capitalism has marked Obama's reign. Barack Obama defined politics as a way to reward one's friends. Anyone wonder if that will be carved in a future monument to Barack Obama?
While Obama campaigns for gun control and bemoans the violence that afflicts the inner cities, he remains mute when it comes to the role that Hollywood plays in creating and exacerbating that violence. If commercials can be so influential in people's minds, why can't cruelty and violence shown on screens and heard in songs -- including by some of the same rappers that Obama parties with in the White House. George Clooney has been in some very violent films yet has quite a close relationship with Barack Obama. Yet Hollywood hypocrites demand gun control across America (a video mocks their hypocrisy). They have grown wealthy by selling violence and bloodshed; others have paid the price with their grief and their lives.
There are of course more examples of Hollywood hypocrisy, but one in particular puts paid to Barack Obama's constant campaign verbiage regarding the role of opportunity in America. In his speech in Osawatomie, Kansas he was hailed for channeling Teddy Roosevelt when he stated that the "ladders of opportunity have grown farther and farther apart." At many other times he was scornful towards those who rigged the game to favor the few at the expense of the many. During his 2012 campaign he angrily stated that "he was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth" (an insult clearly meant toward Mitt Romney, son of a successful auto executive and governor).
Did his fans in Hollywood hear these words -- insults that could be easily hurled at many of them as insultingly as it was towards Romney.
Nepotism in Hollywood
While flying recently I was stuck reading an in-flight magazine. There was an article on Colin Hanks, son of Tom Hanks, a huge and prominent supporter of Barack Obama. Tom Hanks endorsed and campaigned for Obama in 2008 and narrated the 17-minute Road We Traveled paean to Barack Obama that ran in 2012. The film was laced with claims regarding how wonderful Barack Obama had been for the proverbial "little Guy" struggling to survive. Colin Hanks was not featured in the movie.
But Colin was glowingly profiled in a column titled "Colin Hanks has never settled for the easy road":
Colin Hanks may come from movie-making royalty, but that doesn't mean he's resting on his laurels. For the past decade, Hanks has worked hard and steadily - from his breakout role in the 2002 cult film Orange County to parts on hit shows like Dexter and Mad Men. Never content to be a Hollywood flash in the pan, the 35-year-old prefers hard work to a silver spoon. "What people don't understand is that this industry isn't glitzy - it requires work and energy and a great deal of time and effort," he says. "There is so much work behind the scenes. It's actually a job." (italics mine).
It's actually a job! Do steelworkers think working on a Hollywood set is a "job"? Meanwhile, between Hollywood gigs he is working on a documentary on Tower Records because "Not a lot of people know the full history of the company and how it started". Imagine how deprived we have been all these years.
Now does anyone think Colin's career was not paved by his father? Does anyone think that his mother, Rita Wilson, would be in many films? Hollywood is all about suspending disbelief but it strains credulity to think that Colin was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth and that the casting game was not "rigged" in his favor by his patron and padre.
But no need to pick on Colin in particular. The nepotism club in Hollywood is pervasive. Perhaps this is one reason films have been so mediocre for the last few decades.
We have Gwyneth Paltrow, another member of Hollywood royalty (mother: actress Bylthe Danner; father: Hollywood producer/director Bruce Paltrow):
"I love the English lifestyle, it's not as capitalistic as America. People don't talk about work and money, they talk about interesting things at dinner," the Shallow Gal was quoted as telling NS, the weekend magazine supplement of daily Portuguese newspaper Diario de Noticias. "I like living here because I don't fit into the bad side of American psychology. The British are much more intelligent and civilized than the Americans," the 34-year-old reportedly mused.
Needless to say, she hosted a fundraiser for Barack Obama in London. Obama is for giving the little people an opportunity to succeed after all.
Sean Penn has also been DNA-lucky. His father was a famous director who gave Sean his first acting role and undoubtedly paved the path to success for his son. That certainly has not prevented Penn from attacking America as such an unfair and unjust nation-say, compared to the paradise Hugo Chavez has created. Perhaps in one area - nepotism -- he would know. Does he see the hypocrisy?
Two leftist Hollywood siblings who will never give the Barrymore family a run for their money when it comes to creating a legendary acting name are Jake Gyllenhall and his sister, Maggie. Their father is a director and their mother is a screenwriter. Could they have made it big in Hollywood on their own?
So many times when I drag myself to a movie -- hoping against hope that they will be as enjoyable as they formerly were -- I find myself disappointed. I often find that some of the key people involved in the waste of celluloid are relatives of the powers-that-be in Hollywood.
Scott Caan, currently starring in Hawaii Five-0, is the son of James Caan. Josh Brolin is the son of actor James Brolin (married to Barbara Streisand). Did family ties promote their careers? The honor roll who have either benefited from nepotism themselves or have unfairly benefited family members is extensive -- the Fonda siblings, Kate Hudson, Kiefer Sutherland, Drew Barrymore, the previously mentioned Obama fan George Clooney (aunt was Rosemary Clooney), Rob Reiner, Tim Robbins, Martin Sheen (the last three critics of America for being so "unjust"), and many more.
The hypocrisy is palpable.
Now sometimes the sheer lack of talent may weed out actors (what ever happened to the upward career trajectory of Oscar-winner Mira Sorvino, daughter of actor Paul?).
However, it is far more likely the same crew gets role after role while the less well-connected toil in dead end jobs while forcing themselves to go from audition to audition, from rejection to rejection.
Meanwhile, Hollywood millionaires still tout their regard for the little guy while decrying the unfairness in America. Spare us the self-righteous piety.
For a group of people who spend a lot of time gazing at themselves in the mirror, on magazine covers and on screens across America they are a remarkably unreflective group of people. For all the looking they never see the hypocrisy.
No wonder Barack Obama finds Hollywood such a congenial place. He feels right at home.