If you think the news media’s Trump Derangement Syndrome is out of control, look at what’s happening in Hollywood.
We already know celebrities still haven’t processed Donald Trump’s shocking victory. The unconventional president “broke” a crush of stars, and the list is growing.
It’s even worse than that, according to Vanity Fair.
The far-left magazine serves up a behind-the-scenes pastiche of an industry reeling over Trump’s very existence. Author Nick Bilton showcases a number of scripts circulating around Hollywood as well as what industry players have to say about them.
It isn’t pretty.
Several scripts feature Matt Drudge, the new media superstar whose bare bones web site draws millions of eyeballs each week. Others imagine Andrew Breitbart, not as the Happy Warrior who inspired citizen journalists, but as a loner smoking dope in his college dorm.
It’s all part of an amazing essay capturing the current Hollywood mood. The article’s subhead says it all:
Trump’s West Wing denizens, with all their intertwined backstories, are a screenwriter’s dream. But liberal Hollywood wonders: how do you make drama if everyone is evil?
Dig into the piece, and you’ll find just what many artists think of not just Trump but anyone aligned with the Right – “these people are monsters.”
There are so many stories and screenplays in Hollywood about how Trump got to where he is that it can feel as though every single breath taken on earth for the past 70-plus years somehow led to November 8, 2016. (And I’m not even including the numerous screenplays being written about Trump himself, like the one based on Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury.)
The article’s author laments that, in making figures like Drudge and Breitbart pathetic, it also makes them human. And that just won’t do.
Mind you, Hollywood can build franchises around murderous hit men (John Wick), TV smashes about amoral drug dealers (Breaking Bad) and turn supervillains into quasi-heroes (Suicide Squad). Depicting a GOP member as broken but believable? That’s beyond the pale. Still, there’s a chance we’ll never actually see these projects on screens large or small.
“I can’t see these getting made simply because I can’t see anyone wanting to play a sympathetic Drudge or Breitbart,” one award-winning producer told me. “It’s like playing a sympathetic Jeffrey Dahmer.”
For context, The Drudge Report posts links to other news outlets, occasionally sorted to curry favor with right-leaning audiences. Breitbart helped start The Huffington Post, inspired a new generation of conservative artists and reached out to those with whom he disagreed.
Dahmer killed 17 people and often ate their remains.
The author does tweak Hollywood hypocrisy between the alarming anecdotes. He mentions how some stars could gather in a $40 million mansion – mere blocks from L.A.’s Skid Row – to talk immigration.
The article’s main purpose, though, is to reveal what’s on the minds of modern storytellers. Here’s one “well-known screenwriter” offering a take on crafting conservative characters.
“It’s like you’re overlooking the fact that these people are monsters because it doesn’t make for good film or television,” he said to me. “It defeats the entire purpose of making these things in the first place; these are not moral people we’re talking about, they are not just, they are not good, they are evil and deserve to be painted as such, or not painted at all.”
Trump’s ascension broke many cultural norms, something conservatives noted with alarm from the dawn of his presidential campaign.
What we’re seeing now is a new level of norm-breaking, though. Hollywood members cannot embrace a Republican as anything more than “evil.” Think that will impact the stories we see in the coming months?
Now, more than ever, conservatives must engage pop culture. They need to work around the Hollywood “system” to do so. That could mean crowdfunding projects in the Phelim McAleer style. Or, leverage networks like Vimeo and YouTube to share contact studios won’t share.
That’s assuming those platforms won’t ban the material without explanation.
It might even mean following Dave Rubin’s model – creating new platforms that respect free speech while conquering existing models.
Either way, the Vanity Fair article is clear. Conservatives, for the foreseeable future, won’t get anything close to a fair shake from Hollywood.
[Cross-posted from Hollywood in Toto.]