Conservatives attack Hollywood for lax morals and liberal politics. But Christopher Tookey, who sees 300 films a year, thinks that they protest too muchby Christopher Tookey / March 20, 1996 / Leave a comment
On both sides of the Atlantic, Hollywood is suddenly the right’s favourite bogeyman. According to the Republican front-runners in the presidential race, it is seething with liberals. Pat Buchanan and his Christian Coalition have pledged themselves to chase those “purveyors of sex and violence back beneath the rocks from whence they came.” Bob Dole promises that “if I’m the president of the United States, I’m going to urge consumers to turn off their television sets and not patronise these movies.”
A lot of influential figures in Hollywood are Democrats. Why else would we get The American President, Rob Reiner’s sympathetic portrait of an idealised Clinton in the White House? Or Dave, Ivan Reitman’s account of a laid back, liberal lookalike, standing in successfully for a stiff, Bush-style president? Soon we shall be seeing another presidential movie from a similarly leftish angle, the Oliver Stone epic Nixon, which portrays the ex-president as the pawn of the industrial-military complex in general, and J. Edgar Hoover in particular.
Michael Medved’s 1992 attack on Hollywood’s values in Hollywood vs America laid out a long list of movies which attacked America’s most cherished traditions-religion, marriage, family, heroism, patriotism. Since the book appeared scarcely a week has gone by without a critic castigating a Hollywood film for political correctness, or lowering the moral tone. I’ve even done it myself.
But Hollywood is driven by profit, not social engineering. Many moviegoers across the political spectrum are increasingly concerned at its cynical use of extreme violence as entertainment-but among the worst offenders are Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Willis. All three are active Republicans.
Perhaps we should judge presidential candidates by what they do, rather than say. Last May, Bob Dole publicly castigated the Hollywood giant, Time Warner, for “debasing our nation and threatening our children.” Six months later, Dole was inviting the Time Warner chairman to a $1,000-a-plate Beverly Hills banquet to celebrate his new telecom Bill, which was made to order for the big Hollywood players like Time Warner: it dismantles cable regulations, permits a single broadcaster to take over a large proportion of the market, hands out $40 billion worth of new airwaves, and doubles the time between license reviews to ten years, thus rendering Hollywood moguls less accountable to the public than ever before. With enemies like Dole, why should Hollywood need friends?
Besides, there has always been an important reactionary side…