Special Guest: Andrew Klavan on Anti-Americanism in Hollywood
Andrew Klavan, best-selling author of many novels picked up by Hollywood, joins us today to discuss the role of Hollywood in the war effort. For more about him, read his articles here and here, see this appearance on Uncommon Knowledge, or visit his blog, Klavan on the Culture.
1. We all can fall victim to idealizing the past, remembering the good and forgetting the bad. Was Hollywood really better back during WW2?
The life of an art form has its peaks and troughs just like anything else, and there seems to me no question that movies went through a genuine golden age during the 30’s and 40’s. But that’s only part of the issue. Filmmakers-and particularly studio heads-in the old days had a sense of responsibility toward the rest of us. The current crop are slavish conformists to the left-wing intellectual elite. They are protected from the consequences of their mindless bad boy radicalism by money and by sympathetic media. But the thing is: to my mind, even if you make a great film, if it endangers American troops in the field fighting to defend you, well, congratulations, you won the Oscar, but as a human being, you’re trash.
2. The late Samuel Huntington wrote in his final book: “A major gap is growing in America between its increasingly denationalized elites and its ‘Thank God for America’ public.” Do you buy this? Is the Hollywood craziness a symptom?
Yes, I do and yes it is. I’ll tell you why I think it’s happening too. One of the prime motivators of human action-and one rarely spoken about-is the desire to appear virtuous before those you admire: it soothes the inner sense of shame. Leftist conformity has given American intellectuals and artists cheap virtue-free virtue, really, virtue without deeds or discipline. Vote liberal and you’re a hero no matter what. Do you beat your wife or drive your kids into addiction or drive a car under the influence of cocaine or betray your nation with anti-American propaganda? No worries, dude, you’re a leftist, you’re good. But point out that welfare destroys neighborhoods or that Islamists are evil-and whoa, you’re out of the club.
3. The Robert Redfords of the world are likely to reply to criticism by uttering something along the lines of, “questioning my government is patriotism!” Do they have a point? If so, how far does it carry them? Ultimately, what is the proper role of Hollywood when it comes to the war effort?
Sure they have a point but they’re using it dishonestly. There’s nothing wrong with saying, for example, “Hm, I think the war in Iraq is a mistake because of x, y and z.” But how do you get from that to “Bush is a murderer,” “American soldiers are rapists,” “It’s a war for oil!” It’s pure posturing. They pat themselves on the back for being radical and courageous while in fact they’re simply agreeing with and kowtowing to all the powerful people in their lives-critics, producers and the like. It’s childish and shameful.
4. It has been said that Michael Bay makes his movies for Middle America. If true, this would seem a profitable business model — Pearl Harbor, Armageddon, Bad Boys, and so on. Has anyone considered making a pro-American war movie about the Long War? What kind of budget are we talking about here? With Jerry Bruckheimer as a producer, Gary Sinise as an actor, and yourself as a screenwriter, surely something good could happen.
Take a look at the lousy reviews Michael Bay gets and you’ll understand why it would be a huge act of courage and an uphill fight to make that kind of film. Don’t think Bay doesn’t feel those attacks either. Don’t think he just counts his money and shrugs it off. He’s an artist. He works for love and respect even more than money. Making art that supports American-style individual liberty and names its enemies is the single most radical, revolutionary and daring thing you can do in the arts. You’re going to get battered for it. It takes real guts, not the George Clooney make-believe kind.
5. Andrew Breitbart, writing last month: “There are thousands of creative and business minds toiling in anonymity in Hollywood who want the conservative movement to bring them aid, cover, money and a mission to finally take on a generation of one-party creative rule.” Of course, being pro-American shouldn’t be a conservative-liberal issue, but is Breitbart right? Are they all just waiting for a catalyst to mobilize?
Yes, Andrew’s one of the few guys who gets it. Conservative artists are waiting for ground cover: money and employers who will re-hire them even when the New York Times says their movie stinks. Because the Times does that, you know. They don’t say: oh, we disagree with this movie’s politics. They say, this film is terrible, don’t waste your money. Or they don’t review it at all. Since I started speaking out, my novels have gone from getting raves in over 200 venues, to being savaged in one or two. Conservative artists are waiting for an infra-structure of praise and awards and love to support them. Except for me. I’m just blazing away because I know I’m right, I know I’m good, and when it comes to the love of leftist elites, frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.