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Hollywood needs to acknowledge liberal bias

Hollywood certainly seems to be liberal in political persuasion. If that is not the message actors and directors mean to convey, much needs to be done to dispel that belief.

Michael Moore, Oliver Stone, Timothy Robbins, Susan Sarandon, Spike Lee, Janeane Garofolo and many others actively voice their liberal ideals; Harry Belafonte and Danny Glover have both taken trips to Venezuela to meet with and praise communist dictator Hugo Chavez. The 2006 Academy Awards served as further evidence of the dominance of liberal themes, which were rife in the movies nominated for Best Picture.

Nominees for Best Picture at the 78th annual Academy Awards consisted of a proverbial buffet of topics that make most conservatives nervous. Brokeback Mountain is a film about two bisexual shepherds, Capote is about a homosexual author, Crash is about multiculturalism, Good Night, and Good Luck is about McCarthyism, and Munich is about assassinations committed by Israel. No matter what one’s point of view is regarding such issues, it certainly must be conceded that these movies have strong liberal leanings.

Hollywood’s political views were also highlighted during the Academy Awards in another way. When George Clooney accepted his Oscar for Syriana he said, “This Academy, this group of people, gave Hattie McDaniel an Oscar in 1939 when blacks were still sitting in the backs of theaters.” Truth is that it wasn’t until 24 years later that another black, Sydney Poitier, won an Oscar, and only three black actors won Academy Awards between 1939 and 1982.

Clooney’s defense seems less progressive and more an offensive, pandering display of tokenism. It’s not progressive to engage in tokenism. It’s also not progressive to deny that the industry one works in is liberal when all evidence points to the contrary.

Hollywood does not wish to be seen as liberal because revenues depend on even those of the conservative persuasion going to see films. Even for non-conservatives, the idea of an extremely liberal Hollywood is undesirable. Hard political stances do not tend to nurture good business relationships with most of the United States.

In order to protect itself from unwanted indictments of liberalism, Hollywood has brought up the specter of the blacklist with movies such as Good Night, and Good Luck. The Screen Actor’s Guild has made public statements condemning the blacklist, especially in light of the fact that many celebrities actively oppose the war in Iraq.

Such specters are powerful. At the height of McCarthyism, many people were being accused of being Communists. Mere suspicion of affiliation with communism was an offense that often resulted in loss of work, because such assertions were difficult to prove. Many in the SAG, as well as notable figures in general, were subject to the anti-Communist wrath of Joseph McCarthy. Censorship abounded.

The problem with resurrecting this unfortunate part of American history, however, is that no one – except perhaps Ann Coulter – wants to see the return of McCarthyism. But the mention of blacklists by high-profile Hollywood personalities is not a response to McCarthy-like tactics. Rather, it is a ploy to maintain Hollywood’s political involvement while hiding behind the wrongdoings in the past. Hollywood appears to be manipulating a tragic part of American history in order to evade responsibility for its products. The result has been the stifling of Democrats who do not mind the “liberal” label, as well as conservatives who have obvious objections.

In a column published by USA Today, self-proclaimed member of the “Liberal Hollywood Elite” Steven Levitan asks, “Why do so many conservatives hold us in the same esteem as the proprietor of the local porn shop?”

Levitan’s right: Many liberals hold Hollywood in no greater esteem. The reason seems clear: Hollywood, much like purveyors of pornography, refuses to take responsibility for statements made by its members and messages present in its product. The messages omnipresent in the work that both Hollywood and the porn industry produce are spinelessly rejected by the industries in which they were created. Both Hollywood and pornography assert a certain message and then, for business purposes, deny the existence of that message.

A little honesty would be refreshing. It would be refreshing for Hollywood to merely admit that much of the work produced is very liberal. It would be refreshing for pornographers to admit that what they are promoting is prostitution, ennobled only because it is filmed. Neither liberalism nor pornography would become illegal if such admissions were made, as even admittedly offensive speech is protected under the First Amendment.

Hollywood should come clean and admit that its concerns mirror those of liberals.

Barring that honesty, which will probably never be given, Hollywood should at least mask its liberalism better.