The Hollywood dream factory is the stuff of nightmares these days.
That’s no reflection on the horror genre, on the rebound thanks to slick indies like It Follows, It Comes at Night and the highly anticipated Hereditary. Nor does it connect to the dwindling number of souls who line up to buy movie tickets these days. That’s a different kind of scary for industry bean counters.
It’s the politics, stupid.
Only it’s not just stupidity. It’s mean. Confrontational. Condescending. Dismissive. Sometimes even hateful. So much of what we hear out of liberal Hollywood these days is invective we wouldn’t expect from anyone in our lives. Friend or foe. Surly neighbor. Alienated uncle or aunt. It’s coming from folks whose very livelihoods depend on us supporting them.
Let that sink in a minute.
We indirectly pay their bills, and they can’t stop insulting large swaths of us.
The current rage is politically driven, no doubt. Donald Trump’s ascent shattered something in many stars, but we can’t place the blame solely on the unconventional leader. Celebrities need to take a good, long look in the mirror. Will they like what they’ll see?
Turning to the Dark Side
The latest liberal Hollywood attack came from an unlikely source: J.J. Abrams. The man who successfully brought Star Wars back to life via 2015’s The Force Awakens will shoot the ninth film in the saga. Chapter eight, The Last Jedi, crushed the box office, as expected. Only the numbers weren’t quite as dizzying as some predicted.
Many Star Wars fans found plenty to complain about with the film. A tiny minority pinned the blame on too many strong female characters.
Others rightly noted the woke turn in the saga and serious storytelling flaws.
In a sane world Abrams might process that feedback and see what he might do differently. Or, he’d process the comments and feel the franchise remains on the right path.
Both are sober choices for an artist.
Abrams took a third path during an interview with IndieWire.com. Asked about the blowback tied to Jedi’s woke status he pounded critics in a way his Hollywood predecessors never would.
“Their problem isn’t ‘Star Wars,’ their problem is being threatened.”
“‘Star Wars’ is a big galaxy, and you can sort of find almost anything you want to in ‘Star Wars,’” he said. “If you are someone who feels threatened by women and needs to lash out against them, you can probably find an enemy in ‘Star Wars.’ You can probably look at the first movie that George [Lucas] did [‘Star Wars: A New Hope’] and say that Leia was too outspoken, or she was too tough. Anyone who wants to find a problem with anything can find the problem. The internet seems to be made for that.”
Was there a single soul over the past 40 years who complained about Princess Leia being too mouthy?
Let’s be fair to Abrams. He might have been addressing a small sub-set of fans. Still, what director does that in the first place? He must know how toxic quotes spread on social media. Insulting folks who might see your product is Bad Marketing 101.
He wasn’t alone, though.
Sony head Tom Rothman fired off the following pithy comment prior to the 2016 release of “Ghostbusters.” The comedy reboot replaced the four male leads with four female stars, which sparked an ugly, unnecessary culture war. Some hardcore fans sensed a politically correct update that would besmirch memories of the first film. Others were probably on the fence until they saw the film’s terrible trailer.
Rothman’s take on the imbroglio?
“Everybody says we’re making the female Ghostbusters, but I say, ‘No, we’re making the funny Ghostbusters.’ Yes, it happens to be four women,” Rothman said.
So far, so good. He wasn’t done, though.
“It’s original. You get pissing and moaning on the Internet — sexist comments – but, you know, f— ’em,” he said.
Actually, the audience “f—ed” Sony.
The film underwhelmed at the box office, killing a potentially massive franchise. Press reports said the film cost the company north of $70 million.
Abrams and Rothman’s comments proved snarky, condescending and unproductive. They were veritable bouquets compared to what we’ve witnessed over the past 12-plus months.
Love Doesn’t Trump Hate in Liberal Hollywood
Candidate Donald Trump was dubbed Hitler by a gaggle of famous faces, including Sarah Silverman, Tom Green and Louis C.K. Trump’s Election Day victory only poured gasoline on the incendiary rhetoric.
Oscar nominee Michael Shannon targeted Trump voters following the mogul’s shocking victory. Shannon told an interviewer the nation may require a second civil war to right the electoral wrong.
There’s a lot of old people who need to realize they’ve had a nice life, and it’s time for them to move on. Because they’re the ones who go out and vote for these a**holes. If you look at the young people, between 18 and 25, if it was up to them Hillary would have been president. No offense to the seniors out there. My mom’s a senior citizen. But if you’re voting for Trump, it’s time for the urn. (emphasis added).
The Metro interviewer, working hard to be both fair and balanced, confessed his parents voted for Trump “and I’m still not sure how to talk to them about that.”
Shannon had the answer.
F— ’em. You’re an orphan now. Don’t go home. Don’t go home for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Don’t talk to them at all. Silence speaks volumes.
Far-left comic Amy Schumer managed to one-up Shannon. She called Trump voters “weak, clueless KKK members” via her Instagram account shortly after Election Day.
That was then, when the emotions from Trump’s improbably victory were still raw. So what explains this recent Tweet from comedian/Big Sick star Kumail Nanjiani?
F*** Trump. F*** John Kelly. F*** Mike Pence. F*** Omarosa. F*** Paul Ryan. F*** Mitch McConnell. F*** Steve Bannon. F*** Betsy DeVos. F*** Sarah Huckabee Sanders. F*** Trey Gowdy. F*** Devin Nunes. F*** Carter Page. F*** Rob Porter. F*** Sean Spicer. F*** Hope Hicks. F*** Jared.
The comedian eventually took the Tweet down, not before several sites shared its content.
‘Live from New York … You’re a Racist!’
Last but not least is Saturday Night Live. The show has a field day mocking President Trump, a leader who gives material to satirists ’round the clock. That’s only natural, even if the show’s entrenched bias shows every time they ignore an outrageous liberal pratfall.
The iconic show takes it a few steps further. The NBC comedy has called both Trump and his supporters racist.
The show also stood by and let host Aziz Ansari echo similar thoughts,.
We haven’t even mentioned the Harvey Weinstein scandal and how many Hollywood players knew something, if not more, about Weinstein’s alleged assaults on countless starlets.
They said nothing … for decades. Let that sink in, too.
Let’s not forget how Hollywood is overwhelmingly white and male while its stars simultaneously beat the diversity drum.
Is this a picture of a decent industry?
Stars occasionally rise to the occasion to right a serious wrong. Celebrities rallied last year on Houston’s behalf following the devastation wrought by Hurricane Harvey. Many stars give, and give, to various charities without calling a press conference.
All these acts are noble and good. And they’re getting serially eclipsed by behavior that’s anything but decent. That’s the nature of journalism.
If it bleeds, it leads. We’re watching all the same. And taking mental notes.
For many consumers, celebrity culture in the Age of Trump is ugly to the core. Is that the image liberal Hollywood really wants to project?
[Cross-posted from Hollywood in Toto.]