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Conspiracy Meetings on Thursday.

I'm in a comment black hole at Done With Mirrors and rather than tit-for-tat until Cal can't stand it anymore, I'm moving my part of the discussion over here.

Here's why the tired old wheeze about "liberal Hollywood" grinds my last nerve. It's not because I doubt that "Hollywood" is "liberal." Get a big bunch of creatives together anywhere and you have a hotbed of liberalism. It's inevitable. (The last really conservative creative was Salvador Dali. No, Tom Selleck doesn't count.) People whose job involves making shit up tend to be liberals -- make of that what you will. The whole creative thing involves moving the bits and pieces of reality around, and that's not a job for the kind of guy who gets his answers from books of Holy Writ.

I hasten to add at this point that "creatives" is a vague sort of term, not really defensible, but useful because we all kind of understand who it describes. Writers, directors, painters, musicians, poets, choreographers, cinematographers, editors, sculptors, fashion designers . . . all those people that conservatives think of as fairies and weirdos.

Anyway. Yes, creatives tend to be politically liberal. Just like accountants tend to be politically conservative.

Where we get into trouble is at the point where we start accusing accountants of injecting conservative ideology into their work. Except that we don't do that, do we? We don't do that because we all have an idea what it is that accountants do, and we sort of intuit that the job probably has more to do with numbers, and with the specific requirements of the job, than with ideology.

Well, news flash: the creative business also has a lot to do with numbers. (The kinds following a dollar sign.) And it's really mostly about the specific requirements of the job. I don't know about painters, those people are nuts, but we in the writing business are mostly about telling a story, and then getting someone to pay us for it. The "telling" part is surprisingly difficult to do well enough to get paid for it. So the requirements of the job -- plot, character, structure, typing, self-loathing, irrational fits of anger, all that shit -- are really kind of what we focus on. At no point during my work day do I ask myself, "How can I ram my ideology down someone's throat?" Instead, I spend my day thinking, "How the hell am I going to pay off this subplot?" And, "Does this make any goddamned sense given what's happening between Fred and Barnie?" And, "Wait, am I subconsciously ripping off a Flintstones episode?"

This is a sore subject with me because work that my wife and I did has been described as everything from reactionary to satanic. Here's my favorite, an obviously intelligent man who analyzed one of our book series as "a post-colonial analogy." Believe me when I say that the term "post-colonial" never entered our consciousness at any point during the five years we were writing the book series in question. You know what entered our consciousness? What we were really thinking? "Oh, my God, we have no story!"

But art is always a Rorschach test. People see what they want to see. People see projections of their own preoccupations.

The obvious truth is that Big Media -- movies, TV, books -- is run by a handful of gigantic corporations. You've got your Sony, your GE, your NewsCorp, your Disney, your Viacom, and a few others. Huge corporations, none of which could remotely be considered socialist-pinko-pacifist front organizations.

In order for the liberal Hollywood conspiracy theory to hold water, you'd have to believe the following:

1) Creatives, struggling to succeed in one of the most competitive businesses in the world, have plenty of spare time to lard their work with America-hating leftism. Fuck the plot, let's have the character sing the internationale in chapter nine.

2) Gigantic coporations, run by guys whose compensation depends on the performance of their company's stock, turn a blind eye to liberal propagandists who spend corporate resources on projects designed to appeal only to hairy-legged feminists, Subaru-driving assistant professors, and Al Qaeda sympathizers.

Writers, directors and others don't spend their days trying to do their jobs, no, they spend their days trying to turn your children gay. And mega-corporations finance these activities. That's the gist of it. It's as absurd as any other conspiracy theory.

Whether it's publishing, movies or TV, here's how motivation breaks down for the average creative:

60% Score a decent payday.
30% Don't fuck up, don't fuck up, please God don't fuck it up.
6% Achieve revenge on all those who've slighted you.
3% Especially women who refused to sleep with you.
1% Ram your political ideology down the throats of the unwitting masses. Nyah hah hah hah!

Take every political movie you can think of from the last couple of years. Everything by Michael Moore. The latest Redford movie. Syriana. That DePalma Iraq movie. Every single liberal political movie you can imagine. Add up all their budgets. All together. They don't equal the marketing budget for a Spiderman movie.

There is no liberal Hollywood conspiracy. No liberal publishing conspiracy. No liberal TV conspiracy. Unless of course you mean the conspiracy to make a buck.

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“Conspiracy Meetings on Thursday.”

  1. Blogger Randy (Internet Ronin) Says:

    Experience told me that I had a pretty good idea what I would find at the link and I was not the least bit let down. Sometimes it is best to leave the field because there really is no attempt at rational discussion, just an exchange of talking points.

    FWIW, I agree - no conspiracy, just a heavy concentration of like-minded people who cannot fathom the idea of writing or producing anything different. They also have a long history of acting like lemmings. "X was a success, so let's do our own version of it, or let's do Rambo XCXLVI. (Imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, Hollywood is awash in in it and has been for five, six or seven decades.)

    So, I suggest you light a roaring fire, pull up a chair, and, most importantly, don't forget The Macallan. (I had a chance to sample a bit of same a few days ago, 12 year IIRC. You are right - that stuff is awesome! Smoother than smooth. Very impressive.)

  2. Blogger Alan Stewart Carl Says:

    I haven't read the thread over at DWM, but that won't stop me from commenting.

    Generally, a conspiracy requires some kind of sureptitiousness. Last time I checked, the liberals in Hollywood are pretty open about their political beliefs and, when they do make a liberal movie, pretty open about their motives. What's the big deal? Any movie audience member whose politics suddenly changes because of a Robert Redford film is probably lame-brained enough to have his or her politics swung right back by your average three hours of Fox News programming. It's always open season on the easily swayed and both sides have their weaponry.

    I've always hated the whole "liberal hollywood is trying to ruin the country" nonsense. Glad you are, once again, on the side of truth and light.

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