MCCARTHYISM, HOLLYWOOD AND THE BLACKLIST
By STEVEN TRAVERS
Conservative talk show host Dr. Michael Savage has been on the air since 1994, in San Francisco, then nationally, and as the leading voice on the Internet, which means an international audience. One of his most appealing attributes has been his uncanny review of films and television shows, often discerning political lessons from what he sees on screen.
There is no question that the film and TV industry has become the leading plank of the dominant media culture, which also includes music, the comedy world, sports, and its interchangeable identifications with politics, academia, news media, and society. Dr. Savage has regaled his incredibly bright audience with intellectual dissertations on what he sees on television. His audience has watched the same shows and movies: The Sopranos, The Good Shepherd, The Debt, Homeland, and other programs, sometimes political in nature, but not always. As one example, his review of Training Day (2001) starring Denzel Washington was the best ever.
Dr. Savage is one of the few in this dominant media culture who truly understands history. He has discussed the Venona Project, which revealed that many of President Franklin Roosevelt’s top advisors were paid Soviet spies; that Richard Nixon was right about Alger Hiss but FBI Director J. Hoover could not publicly back him up because he was engaged in a larger investigation of international Communism; and when the Soviet Union did break up in the early 1990s, Hiss’s guilt was made entirely known once and for all.
All of this occurred during a time of great angst in America. This era is encapsulated under a single heading many just called “McCarthyism,” but Republican Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy was preceded by the House Un-American Activities Committee, the Blacklist, and then after his demise, much of what he stood for was defined by those who by then considered themselves his enemies: Hollywood.
This era, roughly covering the late 1930s to the early 1960s, precedes a golden age in the film industry (1960s, 1970s), which after Apocalypse Now came to an abrupt end with the making of Heaven’s Gate (1980), and with very few exceptions, has never returned. Only recently, cable TV has become ubiquitous and less censored. It became the place where real talent emerges, often in long form by way of series that can last from one year to multiple seasons (many of these attracting the attention and on-air musings of Dr. Savage).
Since this two-decade “golden age” the entertainment industry produces films that depict angst, religious animosity and a refutation of traditional values. “They make us question ourselves, lose confidence in ourselves as Americans,” Dr. Savage said in a 2012 Gentry magazine introspective. A typical example would be American Beauty, a 1999 film starring Kevin Spacey that includes a laundry list of cancers, including break-up of a marriage, infidelity, underage sexuality, and one of Hollywood’s favorites: showing the tough Marine to be a hypocritical gay.
This is all the rage, despite the fact that movies like Seabiscuit, to name one successful film in the last couple decades,elicit laudatory commentary and big business from a public thirsty for something wholesome. Rap music has merged with punk and a hard-edged “heavy metal” sound to serve a hybrid of the counter-culture, although Christian rock and especially country and western has found itself to be the most popular, with its patriotic themes of God, country and family.
But nobody does it like Hollywood. The American film is the true art form of the 20th Century, Yet, why is Hollywood so liberal? The answer to that question is easy and complicated. First, it is not as liberal as many people think. There are “closet conservatives” in the industry, as well as some big names who lended themselves to causes. John Wayne, Charlton Heston and Frank Capra were just three well-recognized conservatives. There is an organization called the Hollywood Congress of Republicans, which meets regularly and has a web site. One of Dr. Savage’s good friends, the great character actor Robert Davi, often comes on his show and is open about his conservative politics. There are groups of writers and producers who meet in “cells” to discuss “conservative” or Christian-themed scripts and projects. They wistfully talk about making “our kind of movies” with others who are considered “one of us” when they wrest control of the industry from the likes of Rob Reiner, who once said, “In my perfect world, the bad Senator will always be a Republican. When the conservatives make their movies, then they can do it their way.”
Many of the “little people” in Hollywood – camera operators, stagehands, grips, etc. – are Republicans, and there are plenty among the actors, writers, directors and producers. But the industry has been taken over by Left wing activists who have created the most stifling form of “thought police” in America today. It is the closest thing to censorship. The joke among Hollywood conservatives is that they are members of the Republican Witness Protection Program. This censorship now exists on college campuses and public schools. This perhaps best explains the popularity of conservative talk hosts like Dr. Savage, a man who personally experienced censorship of a sort from higher education, only to gain the best kind of revenge: successfully living well.
The first thing to address is the new sensibilities of fame. In the “old” days, actors came from the general population. Many served in the military. Guys like Lee Marvin, Clint Eastwood and Steve McQueen were in the Marines, the Army, the merchant marines, then were “roustabouts” who fell into acting because they had the looks and happened to be discovered. John Wayne became an actor because he injured himself and lost his scholarship to play football at the University of Southern California. Their success was serendipitous. They certainly had egos and worked hard to get where they got, but underneath it all was a sense that they were just fortunate to have lucked into such a niche.
Too many of today’s stars are narcissistic fools, although it is not all their fault. The “fame machine” of publicists, tabloids and television has created a juxtaposed “us vs. them” world in which they feel the need to insulate themselves from the great unwashed. This, however, comes at a terrible price of guilt. The fact is that very, very few actors are really that much more talented than the thousands who fail, and they know it. There are only a limited handful of stars that were destined for greatness no matter what.
Marlon Brando and James Dean had that kind of talent. Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant had screen presence. Sir Laurence Olivier was going to be a star. But for many other actors, their success was about luck, or something else. Many slept their way to the top. It would not be surprising to know that some made a deal with Satan.
Jane Fonda was beautiful and talented, but was she really that extraordinary? Without the Fonda name, would she have become a star? Alec Baldwin was a handsome son of a gun with a great voice and screen presence, which goes for George Clooney, but in reality, there are plenty of unknowns who possess those same qualities. Julia Roberts strikes many as ordinary. Barbra Streisand is a singer extraordinaire, but an actress ordinaire.
So what is the point? The point is that the current crop of actors does not emanate from the populace like Wayne, McQueen or Clint Eastwood once did. They do not come to Hollywood on leave from military service, or on their way home from an American victory in some foreign war. High school drama departments have become de facto gay youth clubs. The first gays many people became aware of were in high school drama class.
The New Hollywood studies drama at elite universities and schools like the Actors Studio in New York, immortalized by Lee Strasberg’s “method,” which emanated from a Russian drama teacher named Konstantin Stavlaski. After World War II, the second half of Stavlaski’s writings was discovered, revealing that the so-called “method” that propelled Brando and Dean was not what the author had intended, but the style became a fixture in the American acting scene.
When a handsome young man or gorgeous woman ascends to the top nowadays, they find their world turned inside out, with sycophants, managers, an adoring public, a fawning press, and more money than they could ever have imagined thrust onto them, seemingly overnight. Unlike athletes, who face competition from teammates and opponents, hear the boos of the crowd, and are subject to the ridicules of intemperate sportswriters, the actor is a protected species. They are not allowed to demonstrate “human” traits beyond platitudes about the rain forest, Alar on school kids’ apples, or other things they know little about. Amazingly, an actress who plays a farmers’ wife on screen, for instance, will be called before Congress to testify about the conditions of midwestern drought, as if their two weeks of preparation for the role somehow qualifies them.
Our newly inducted members of the Beautiful People’s Club then have to deal with a question that nags at their innards. “Do I really deserve this?” The answer is, no more than the guy in their old acting class who did not get the break they got. That is not the answer they want to hear. Wracked by guilt over their own success, they develop a phobia for things that are earned, like national greatness, military objectives, and corporate success stories. In the Biblical sense, as Dr. Savage has often pointed out, these fairies and “Hollywood sluts” worship the modern version of the Golden Calf, known as the Oscar.
This does not apply to everybody. Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are two of life’s lottery winners who happen to have grown up together back in the day in Boston. Early on they recognized how good they had it and refused to play the swelled head. Gary Sinise is nothing less than a patriot and hero. But they are exceptions to the rule. The biggest liberals in Hollywood tend to be utterly condescending and imperious, with little real respect for ordinary people.
Again, this does not apply to everybody. Rob Reiner is an enormous liberal, but to his credit he studies issues, puts his money where his mouth is, and has a genuine desire to help the community. Many disagree with his politics but admire his passion. Sean Penn, Madonna and Barbra Streisand are blowhards who have no concept of reality, and there is little about their personal lives deserving of genuine respect.
Many conservatives have taken the position that actors are stupid because most of them never went to college, or even dropped out of high school, but this misses the point, too. They are not stupid. Acting is an important profession. As the current virus is proving, with movie theatres closed, if we took away movies and TV shows, the worldwide clamor would be devastating. Folks need to be entertained. Entertainment also carries social importance. Certainly, Shakespeare’s works are as much social commentary as entertainment. The Greeks before him used the stage to make political points, sometimes to the playwrights’ physical detriment.
It was an actor, John Wilkes Booth, who felt destiny had put him in the misguided position to “save the Confederacy” by assassinating Abe Lincoln. Actors do not avoid college because they cannot get in. They are consumed by the passion to act, which spurs them to leave for Broadway or Hollywood as soon as they are out of high school, or causes them to drop out of college because a degree is not what will open doors for them. While many live in a kind of “dream world” of sex, drugs, and parties, most are intelligent. It was that intelligence and pursuit of creativity that pushed them into high school drama in the first place, where the ability to read well is essential to an actor. Acting requires perception and social empathy that are not normal traits of the Dumbellionite Class.
Most educated people will admit the majority of what they learned came from independent study and reading for pleasure in the post-college years, anyway. Working actors read many scripts that enlighten them to a myriad of issues. The really successful ones can employ advisors, and have plenty of time to read newspapers, magazines, and bone up on issues.
Let’s face it, some of the most liberal actors are great at what they do. Tim Robbins is so far to the Left that he is almost a Communist. In his handsome youth he did not look the part. He was tall, athletic and good-looking, and landed roles that portrayed him as athletes and business executives. His parents were folk singers, which may or may not explain why he arrived at an egalitarian worldview that gives no credence to America’s role as peacekeeper and savior. He just sees in this country exploitation, killing machine, corporate corruption and racism. He views people with his opinions to be the only ones capable of saving the world from conservativism.
For these reasons, conservatives have identified Robbins as something less than a traitor, but not much more than a hare-brained activist. It would be very easy to dismiss him and never watch his movies, except that he is responsible for some all-time great screen moments. He co-starred in the hilarious Bull Durham (1988), and in 1992 held together one of the greatest movie ever made, The Player. That film was directed by another Leftist of remarkable antipathy towards conservatism named Robert Altman. Altman’s art cannot be denied. He had the ability to create “conversations” among numerous characters that give his films, particularly M*A*S*H and Nashville, an entertaining, documentary feel. This emanates from the French cinema verite embodied by Jean-Luc (“I have no script”) Goddard.
During the Monica Lewinsky imbroglio, Alec Baldwin told Jay Leno’s audience that they should go to Republican Congressman Henry Hyde’s house and stone the man and his family to death because they endorsed President Bill Clinton’s Impeachment. The fact that he paid little price for this statement is extremely telling. First, any conservative who said anything remotely close to that would have been drawn and quartered. The reason for that is because conservatives are known to be intelligent, educated, serious people, so when they say something it is taken seriously. This fact is understood and accepted by conservatives. People just dismissed Baldwin as a kooky actor, which is, in a nutshell, why their Dumbellionite statements never get traction. However, because they live in their little “look at me” worlds, these people have actually fooled themselves into believing they matter for something other than being a pretty or handsome popcorn mouthpiece on Saturday nights. They do not. An example of this came when Baldwin tried his hand at talk radio, which as Dr. Savage knows and often explains is an extremely difficult undertaking. Like all other liberals before him, he was a total bore, drew no audience, and his show was canceled basically over night.
That is not to say they do not have a platform from which to build a case. Baldwin is not stupid. He certainly is not as stupid as his “killing Henry Hyde’s family” statement would have the public believing. He has passion and cares about America, and for this he actually deserves some admiration. But where he and many of his ilk fail to get it is that their high profiles come with responsibility, at least if they plan to go public with their politics.
Baldwin may read the New York Times, but he fails to gauge the political winds. To him, a conservative Republican is an evil monster. It appears that one would have to scrape layers of insulation and adulation from Baldwin in order to get to any core understanding of people that is necessary in the political world. Baldwin thinks that conservative Republicans are racists, homophobes, heartless, baby killers, polluters, exploiters and imperialists. Only now, with age, possibly Baldwin may have achieved a measure of wisdom. There is, however, no evidence of this.
Democrats turn radical
There was a time in which a Democrat like California’s U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein could be sat down and rationally spoken to, and with. Insulated by her state’s dark blue voting patterns, she and her husband, Richard Blum, have been safe to steer illegal deals to his “business,” which includes millions of dollars funneled through our mortal enemy, China. Feinstein and Blum are a living picture of globalism and its corruptions.
While Dr. Savage has, like John the Baptist shouting in the wilderness, informed the world of their crimes, it has fallen on deaf ears, probably because there is as much money to be made by Republicans as by Democrats (only through Donald Trump, who has enough money not to be corrupted, has the heavy lifting of exposing all of this begun).
While Senator Feinstein’s junior partner in the Senate, Barbara Boxer, was consistently to the left of Leon Trotsky, Senator Feinstein could see that Republicans want minorities to succeed, and might even agree that personal responsibility and a reform of old line affirmative action policies is necessary. At least it seemed that way until the Brett Kavanaugh hearings.
Ever since Barack Obama was elected in 2008, the Democrat Party has veered so far to the left that comparisons with old line Soviets are no longer jokes or metaphors. The enforced Socialism of the virus crisis has exposed this. We are living the New Green Deal. We are experiencing a world, temporarily one would hope, absent capitalism. All the goals of the far Left are no longer goals; they are existing “new normals” we are experiencing in real time. After just a few months there are new reports showing the ozone lawyer is getting smaller. This will not matter to the Left. “Solving” problems is never of value to them. Then what will Leonardo DiCaprio have to complain about?
Senator Feinstein might have understood that Republicans may not endorse gay marriages, but believe gays should be allowed all the freedoms under the Constitution (just not more so). Most liberals, like Alec Baldwin, probably could not be made to see this.
Senator Feinstein may still understand that tax cuts are not “heartless,” and has enough knowledge of economics to know that relieving the burden on the wealthy has the potential to spur growth. Her constituency and philosophy may differ on this, but she can see the reason in the Republican argument. Baldwin and his ilk appear, from this angle at least, to be blinded by narrower ideology.
Feinstein knows American soldiers are not gung-ho to kill children or drop napalm on farmers, but Baldwin types seemed pre-disposed to suspect the worst. Feinstein used to be able to listen to an argument that global warming may be a natural phenomenon, and she may produce sources to dispute it, but she was capable of reasoning the issue and understanding that it deserves further study; at least until the Left took over complete control of her party. Baldwin was the kind of guy who was closed-minded on such things, easily dismissing Republicans as uncaring polluters, as if they breathe different air than he does.
Dianne Feinstein knows that in American history, this country has liberated millions and relieved suffering from one corner of the globe to another. Baldwin, who once portrayed Jimmy Doolittle, will have none of it. He will acknowledge our righteousness in World War II, but to him defeating Communism, and apparently terrorism, were little more than historical blips in which liberals were unfairly painted as enemies by the Right, with Muslims made, as Barack Obama lied in 2004, forced to “cower in the night.”
The difference between a once solid, respected Democrat like Senator Feinstein, and Alec Baldwin, is not just that Feinstein went to Stanford, and has immersed herself in a lifetime of knowledge, reading books, policy papers, and listening to advisors. She has dealt with the citizenry, asking for their votes, and she has worked closely with members of the political opposition, all with a common goal for America.
Baldwin was born with the gift of looks and vocal charisma. Once he hit it big (ironically playing the patriotic Tom Clancy character Jack Ryan in The Hunt For Red October), Baldwin’s life changed. He became a multi-millionaire, with gorgeous women offering fantasy sex to him. Publicists protected him. Friendly interviewers promoted him. Tabloid fans adored him. Baldwin’s temper, checked in his “previous life” by the norms of societal expectation, now could explode because he was no longer part of that normal society. He was a movie star. Suddenly, his opinion on matters of policy was elevated, and he believed his own importance. His story is hardly unique.
On the other hand, Ronald Reagan is often cited as “just an actor,” but his political education was long and arduous. He cut his political teeth during the Red Scare, and Communists in Hollywood were not just a myth to him. They were real. He knew their names and he helped the government identify them. He went on the speaking circuit for General Electric, and spent years learning issues and how to deliver them. He went through a maturation process, realizing that the Democrat Party he had always identified with had left him, not the other way around. Slowly but surely, year after year, he became more politically savvy. When he finally entered the fray he was ready and never turned back.
Michael Moore is a disgruntled, angry little man. Aside from being ugly he looks bad. He made it big with a documentary about the Detroit automobile business. His premise was, essentially, that it was not fair for big corporations to make profits, and if they did not they should not be allowed to fire employees even if they could not afford to keep them on. It was Communist sophistry.
He made another documentary about guns that the fact-checkers discovered was filled with lies. America is a country in which legal gun owners hunt, and protect their families with these weapons. Criminals who illegally own guns commit 99 percent of gun crime. Much of the crime that is prevented is done by legal gun owners stopping illegal gun owners from using their guns in the commission of crimes. But many criminals with illegal guns are minorities. Liberals like Michael Moore would prefer to shift the focus from this fact to the fact that most legal gun owners are white Republicans. He pointed to the shooting at Columbine as evidence that white gun owners are responsible for American crime. This is untrue, and Moore knows it. He says it anyway. Webster’s has a word that describes this, and it starts with the letter “l.” Michael Moore should be excoriated for writing a book (the title of which describes him) called Stupid White Males just as much as a Republican would be if he wrote a book called Dumbass Negroes.
None of this even includes his utter nonsense, Fahrenheit 9/11. The media of course called it “compelling.” Most Republicans realized George W. Bush was going to win in 2004 when they saw Moore’s documentary and realized if that was what the Democrats were hanging their hat on, the race was over. It was.
Most conservatives put their politics aside and frequent movies starring these liberals, because they really do not pay much attention to their pedantics. However, if an actor is on the cusp, so to speak, they may make another choice. Take Julia Roberts, who said “Republican can be found in the dictionary after reptile,” which is not true. She demonstrated the truism that one is better to say nothing and be thought stupid than to open their mouth and remove all doubt. After years of hype, people came to realize she was highly over-rated. She received industry recognition for a movie that few outside the industry thought much of, when she portrayed the trashy, foul-mouthed Erin Brockovich, a story about an isolated incident in the California desert in which the Pacific Gas & Electric Company inadvertently polluted the water supply of a tiny town. The implication, like Moore’s work, is that big businesses are not the friends of the public, favoring tax cuts and pollution over the safety of kids. What is never mentioned in these portrayals is that companies like PG&E provide goods and valuable services desired by millions, at a fair price. They employee thousands, who fund dreams and families through the salaries and benefits derived through their success in a capitalist, free market system that is second to none in the world. They pay the taxes (plus make enormous charitable contributions) that provide the rising tide that lifts all boat in this, the greatest society ever conceived.
But Hollywood would just portray them as enemies. They cheer when they are slapped with billion-dollar lawsuits that result in job losses, higher prices, and help to grind the wheels of commerce down. Julia’s average acting skills are now identified by many movie consumers who choose not to patronize her work.
Woody “Hemp Man” Harrelson was for many years a Godsend to the Republicans. The fact that he is a Democrat discredits the Democrats more than Republican money can buy. Then there are guys like Mike Farrell and Ed Asner, who are washed up but tried to stay in the public eye through political activism. Farrell was a sharp fellow who could give and take with the conservatives. Asner, however, was the old school liberal, still seething because the Communism he and his pals were associated with was identified for what it was. Asner had acting talent, but he has been known to vocally state that no Republicans would work on projects that he was involved. This is ironic since one of Hollywood’s greatest Republicans, Duke Wayne, helped give him his first big break in El Dorado.
Asner once had enough clout to make such an outrageous edict stick. Unlike Farrell, Asner did not prepare himself for the interviews he conducted. Farrell at least made the “informed” decision that, for instance, backing Augusto Pinochet over Salvador Allende in Chile was bad, and correlated that with invasion in the Middle East (??). Anyway, he at least knew some history. Asner just spouted nostrums about how we would get our heads handed to us in Iraq, which he said a few weeks before we destroyed Saddam Hussein, and a couple years before General David Petraeus’s “surge” effectively won that war.
Asner eventually claimed that since President Clinton was a liar, George W. Bush must be, too. Farrell, to his credit, went on TV and stuck to his (misguided) guns. Liberals like Asner and Farrell are not unpatriotic. If they had hard feelings against America, it was more out of a hope to make America a better place. Generally, they are of the “fairness” school of political discourse, which unfortunately is the same one that prompted Robert Oppenheimer to share atomic secrets with Soviet colleagues/spies. The idea is that it is not fair for one country – America – to be as powerful and successful as it is. They do not trust America to handle its power. Asner, Farrell and their kind believe in a better society. They are not bad people. They are due respect for their desire to live in a better world, and to use their influence in so doing. Just because they do not have post-graduate degrees does not make them ineligible to voice reasoned opinions.
Hollywood’s love affair with Castro
What is beyond reasonable belief is the fascination, indeed an actual love affair, between Fidel Castro and Hollywood. Surely these celebrities are aware of the thousands he has and his brother imprisoned and killed before Fidel’s death in 2016. Castro has probably murdered roughly 1 million people. The real truth will not be known until Communism is toppled. So called “fact check” web sites owned by the likes of George Soros want you to believe it is a “manageable” number. This is like “justifying” Mao Tse-tung by saying he “only” murdered 50 million, not 70 million as a recent Mao biography claimed; or that we have “only” aborted 60 million babies since Roe v. Wade (while those mean Christians “inflate” the real number to 65 million). As Joseph Stalin said, “A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic.” Apparently abortionists and Communists ought to know. This information is common knowledge, not hidden from Hollywood.
When Castro toured the U.S. in his early days, he was feted by the New York Broadway crowd, surrounded by showgirls who appeared to be his sex offerings, while sycophant producers, actors and other show folk crowded around him like a guru. That was before his murderous repressions were known. Still, he got the star treatment. It becomes hard to say that this man, an enemy of freedom and of America, could be idolized by anybody who does not, by virtue of idolizing him, hate America. Do they hate freedom? Is that possible? The answer is more complicated, obviously. There is something psychological about the mindset of celebrity, capitalism and patriotism that cannot be explained. Perhaps money, fame and idolatry place these celebs in a place they think is above the norm, as if the usual rules of conduct and decency are for somebody else.
Hollywood once labeled Castro a “genius” and a “source of inspiration to the world.” Conservative media critic Michael Medved said these accolades were “sickening.” Dennis Hays, former head of the anti-Castro Cuban American National Foundation, compared the Cuban dictator’s “hold” on Hollywood to a “cult” following, not unlike that of Jim Jones and David Koresh.
Saul Landau, who won an Emmy, produced documentaries on Castro.
He “has brought a greater equality in terms of wealth distribution than I guess any country in the world today,” said Landau. Many of his policies were “praiseworthy.” This analogy has been used countless times, but Adolf Hitler cut down on crime and Benito Mussolini made the trains run on time.
Steven Spielberg dined with Castro, then announced that it “was the eight most important hours of my life.” Spielberg may be a liberal, but Saving Private Ryan is one of the most patriotic movies ever made. Were conservatives just closed-minded about Castro? Can Spielberg’s dinner and comments be misconstrued?
Jack Nicholson spent three hours with Castro in 1998.
“He is a genius,” said Nicholson. “We spoke about everything.”
He was “a source of inspiration to the world,” according to supermodel Naomi Campbell. “I’m so nervous and flustered because I can’t believe I have met him. He said that seeing us in person was very spiritual.” She met Castro with fellow model Kate Moss. Castro was a notorious ladies man who has slept with hundreds, probably thousands of women. One can only guess at a Campbell-Moss-Castro menage a trois.
“Socialism works,” “explained” economist/comedian Chevy Chase. “Cuba might prove that. I think it’s conclusive that there have been areas where Socialism has helped to keep people at least stabilized at a certain level.”
Chase’s statement was as telling as any. If he, and others like him, actually believes this, then there is a sense that there is no hope. It has to speak to a commitment to a certain ideal that these people want to be true so badly that they will believe it is true no matter what. When O.J. Simpson was on trial, psychologists posited that he had worked himself into a mindset in which he actually convinced himself of his own innocence. Perhaps liberals have done the same thing.
American media moguls like the president of CBS TV, the head of MTV and the editor of Vanity Fair called Cuba “romantic . . . soulful and sexy . . .” according to the New York Post. This is particularly galling since it was those qualities that embodied the casinos and nightclubs of pre-Castro Cuba.
Robert Redford, Spike Lee, Sidney Pollack, Oliver Stone, Woody Harrelson, Danny Glover, Ed Asner, Shirley MacLaine, Alanis Morissette, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Kevin Costner ventured there like pilgrims.
Costner has been rumored to be fairly conservative by Hollywood standards, but he went there in 2001 for the premiere of his film, Thirteen Days.
“It was an experience of a lifetime to sit only a few feet away from him and watch him relive an experience he lived as a very young man,” Costner said. This is at least a reasonable statement
Cultural critic David Horowitz called Redford’s 1990 film Havana, “grotesque,” in its fawning of Castro. Harry Belafonte and Ted Turner promoted Castro as if he was Winston Churchill. The New York Times said of the 2002 film called Fidel, “This is an exercise not in biography but in hero worship.” In Cuba, Belafonte, an open Communist in the 1950s, railed against his own country and his President. Hollywood wanted Bush to end the trade embargo imposed on Cuba since 1961, but Bush would not do so until Castro honored human rights, released political prisoners and held free and fair elections. He never did any of that and, yet was accepted by President Barack Obama.
“It’s very sad, and I wish Steven Spielberg and Danny Glover or any of these other guys would spend a little time with some of the political prisoners in jail before they make broad stroke comments about Cuba and Cuban society,” Hays said.
He said he hoped celebrities would “open their eyes” before they promoted Castro’s Cuba.
“Remember, this is a man who has killed tens of thousands of his own citizens,” continued Hays. “He’s killed over 30 Americans, he harbors fugitives from U.S. justice, he has supported terrorism and narco-terrorism throughout the hemisphere, causing untold thousands of other citizens’ deaths.” Castro’s was a “ruthless dictatorship that denies people the freedom of speech, the freedom of press, the freedom of association . . . What is the problem here? Short of Saddam Hussein, it’s hard to find a figure in the world that has caused more human misery than Fidel Castro.”
Yet Spielberg, who produced the depiction of the German slaughter of Jews, dined with a man who slaughtered Cubans and Catholics.
“[Spielberg is] totally blind to gulags in Cuba. [During his recent visit to Cuba] he made no mention of the thousands of people who are harassed and imprisoned on a daily basis,” Hays added around 2002.
“Part of the Hollywood mindset is an almost childlike fantasy to escape to fantasy world,” said Medved, the author of Hollywood vs. America. “The one characteristic we connect most to really successful people in Hollywood is immaturity and that fits very well into utopian paradises of various kinds, like Cuba.” Celebrities become “animated by guilt . . . One of the ways people deal with that guilt is they become revolutionaries, and Castro is perfect for them because he is an intellectual . . . [Castro] is a rich guy, he’s always been a rich guy, he’s from the elite like most of Hollywood.”
Of Spielberg’s eight most important hours of his life, Medved noted, “Not the hours when he met his wife, not the birth of his children, it was the eight hours he spent with Fidel.”
“It just shows that Spielberg may be a talented filmmaker, but he hasn’t got any moral brains,” Horowitz, a former 1960s radical, said. “They say, ‘isn’t it wonderful, [Cubans] are all driving these vintage cars and they keep them running.’ Well, it is not so wonderful because they are too poor to get anything else.” It is a “national disgrace” that has “been going on for years and years.” Castro was a “sadistic monster . . . the longest surviving dictator in the world,” yet “[Hollywood] can’t tell a dictator from a Democrat or a country deliberately and systemically impoverished by its leader. These people don’t know anything. It’s just depressing to even talk about it. They are ‘useless idiots,’ if I may turn [Vladimir] Lenin’s comment around.”
“[Castro] has acknowledged that he personally slept with over 1,000 women . . . it would be fairly common for Castro to go through four or five women a day,” said Medved. “For people who have invested a great deal of life proudly trying to see how many beautiful women you can conquer, there is a natural tendency to identify with Bill Clinton or Fidel Castro.”
Robin Bronk was the executive director of the Creative Coalition, a liberal celebrity-based activist group whose founders included Ron Silver (who became a conservative prior to his untimely death), Christopher Reeve, and Susan Sarandon.
“Celebrity activism is as old as [silent film actress] Gloria Swanson,” she said.
“We live in a society here in the U.S. where celebrities are put out there as opinion leaders. Just as they have their agent and their manager and their publicists, they are expected to have their issue,” which “if utilized the right way, there are a lot of spokespeople who are speaking on behalf of issues that are not necessarily the best spokespeople.
“Typically people in the arts tend to be more liberal and less conservative. I think it’s the nature of that constituency.”
Filmmaker Saul Landau disputed the “celebrities are just stupid” angle during the Bush years.
“How the hell is he duping them?” he said of Castro. “They’ve got two eyes, they’ve got two ears. Cuba is the king of all of Latin American countries. You don’t have millions of homeless people in Cuba, you don’t have 42 million people who don’t have access to medical care.” Cuba, he says, OUTPERFORMS the United States “when you talk about the right to food, the right to shelter, the right to a job, the right to a retirement.” This is tantamount to saying that the Redwood Pop Warner team has a better football tradition than Notre Dame.
“I have not seen any evidence that he is a sadistic monster or a brutal dictator,” he added. “People in Miami who are running their anti-Castro lobby, are, in my opinion, not representative of the Cubans in the country. Cuban human rights violations take the form of procedural violations. They involve legal and political rights rather than economic and social rights. They broke a lot of eggs” to achieve their goals (apparently unaware that this term was Stalin’s “explanation” for the starvation of millions). “It’s very difficult coming from the U.S., to imagine a political leader with whom you could have an intelligent conversation. Well, I guess you could with Bill Clinton, but you certainly can’t with the moron that is in there today.”
Castro has a “religious aura” about him, he said. “When he comes into a room, a wind follows him. He intimidates people by his very presence, he emanates, he vibrates power.”
Dear Christ Almighty!
The actual Cubans who experience Castro never say anything nice about him. In the 1950s, actress Lucille Ball was suspected of having Communist sympathies, but her husband, Desi Arnaz, had none. He recounted how Communists came to his house in Cuba and burned it down because his family was successful, and that he “hates” Communism. Actor Andy Garcia is a Cuban refugee.
“Sometimes, you feel like what’s really going down in Cuba is protected in a way by the American media, and it’s a shame, because the truth needs to come out,” Garcia told Fort Lauderdale’s City Link. “People need to be aware of what’s really going on down there.”
Garcia’s 2000 HBO movie, For Love or Country: The Arturo Sandoval Story, profiled a jazz musician who fled Cuba for America. “For me, there’s no substitute for liberty and freedom. People die for that.”
“People don’t have a lot of information, and when they ask me about it, I tell them about the drama of exiles, the repression, the firing squads, the horror of Communism,” singer Gloria Estefan, another Cuban refugee, told Exito Online in 1997. “My whole family paid a heavy price for freedom. My father not only fought in the Bay of Pigs, he volunteered to fight in Vietnam. He fought for these same freedoms. How could I forget that Fidel Castro was the person who did me so much harm?”
In 2002-03, Castro upped his crackdown on dissidents with the speedy convictions of at least 74 nonviolent government opponents in nonpublic “kangaroo-court” proceedings. Rounded up were independent journalists and pro-Democracy activists, including reporter-photographer Omar Rodriguez Saludes, writer Raul Rivero and magazine editor Ricardo Gonzalez, who received sentences up to 27 years each.
The U.S. State Department called the actions “the most egregious act of political repression in Cuba in the last decade.” Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa said that Castro’s crackdown was the “natural progression of a dictatorship that has been oppressing human rights for years.” The House passed a condemning resolution, 414-0, and Amnesty International, Reporters Without Borders and International PEN, among others, joined the chorus of condemnation.
Castro’s “one hell of a guy,” was TV mogul Ted Turner’s response.
He is “one of the most mysterious leaders in the world,” said Barbara Walters (not considered a major liberal; she got her start in public relations under Bill Safire) on ABC’s 20/20.
Castro relies on “the unswerving naïveté and obtuseness of the American Left, which consistently has managed to overlook what a goon he is,” wrote Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen.
He is “one of the Earth’s wisest people,” said Oliver Stone, who also made a loving documentary of Castro that was so fawning HBO could not run it. New York VIPs paid up to $6,500 to jet to Cuba with Yoko Ono to meet with Castro.
“It’s especially ironic that press and publishing executives are paying an enormous premium to meet with a man who is busy jailing journalists and writers for being journalists and writers,” Mickey Kaus commented.
McCarthy and backlash
But why is Hollywood so liberal? It starts with anti-Semitism, Joe McCarthy and Joseph P. Kennedy, who ironically was a friend and supporter of McCarthy. McCarthy dated his daughter. Bobby Kennedy worked for him. JFK refused to condemn him even after he was President, calling him a great American.
It would be nice to blame Hollywood’s liberalism on Joseph P. Kennedy, who seems to be to blame for many other ills of the 20th Century. He made a big splash in Hollywood and squired plenty of actresses around. When his kids grew up they gravitated toward California, which became a home away from home. With their money and good looks, they fit right in among the Hollywood set.
John Hersey, who married one of Kennedy’s former girlfriends, in the New Yorker, built JFK’s PT boat legend. JFK’s life, from his prep school graduation to his Congressional debut; his health, his women, his Naval career; his Pulitzer, years in the Senate, the 1960 campaign fraud; his mob ties, friendship with Frank Sinatra, affairs with Marilyn Monroe, the death of Monroe; everything in his life and the life of his family has been dissected and is known. Virtually none of it was known when he and Robert Kennedy were alive and courting votes.
The reason for this is because Kennedy was a hero of the Left. The Left controlled the media. The “job” of the Left is not to reveal truthful accounts of events that shed a bad light on heroes of the Left. Its “job” is to reveal truthful or any other accounts of events that shed a bad light on heroes of the Right. They proved to be good at it.
Had they revealed 20 percent of the truth about John Kennedy, he would not have defeated Richard Nixon in 1960. He would never have been elected President. Neither would any other Kennedy, assassinations or no assassinations. JFK likely never would have beaten John Cabot Lodge for Massachusetts Senator in 1954.
The Kennedy myth is only one example of the way the media has long dominated what America thinks. There is good news, however. In this beautiful nation we live in, Truth is available. There are numerous people who seek and discover the Truth, and for those of us who do this, it sets us free. Hallelujah.
Howard Hughes was America’s richest man. Riches denote success and hard work, the American Dream. It is the opposite of Communism, and therefore related to conservatism. Such people are more likely to be members of the Republican Party. Hughes was a Republican, and to make matters worse, a supporter of Richard Nixon. For all the aforementioned reasons, the press attacked him. His biographer, Charles Higham, claims he was anti-Semitic because a poet who once was supposed to have written something anti-Semitic was on his payroll at one time. The problem with this charge is that, unlike the true anti-Semitic charges leveled on Joe Kennedy, or the anti-Semitic charges that the mainstream press did not report about Hillary Clinton, Hughes was mostly sympathetic toward Jews. He had some “run-ins” with Jewish film executives, but this describes anybody who rose to any kind of prominence in Hollywood.
Anti-Semitism may be the root of the liberal media in America. Film critic Michael Medved reported that over the years, he has received “. . . mail from viewers and readers in all regions of the country who suspect that the disproportionate number of Jews in Hollywood leadership positions might somehow account for the alienation of the industry elite from the American mainstream. Some of these letter writers, Medved wrote “. . . appear to be sincere attempts by basically well meaning people to understand what’s gone wrong with the popular culture. Others reflect anti-Semitic attitudes of the most poisonous and pernicious variety.”
Since Hollywood became a place where Jews could succeed, it became a place where they could “fight back” against the anti-Semitism that they faced. Anti-Semitism became associated with elite WASPS, who did not allow Jews in their country clubs, which in turn were associated with the Republican Party. The early Communists (namely Marx) were Jewish. Since their was prejudice against Jews in America, this helps explain why many American Communists were Jewish. The fact that millions of Jews died under Communism is a troubling issue for liberal Jews. Nevertheless, Jews became influential in Hollywood and the media, and in turn the media became liberal.
No “business in the world is so firmly associated in the public mind with the Jewish people as the American entertainment industry,” said Medved. Kennedy, the son of one of the most virulent anti-Semites in the country, became associated with the Civil Rights Movement, which was populated by Jewish liberals, many in the film industry. Kennedy campaigned regularly in California, where he raised funds and lent himself to the glamour and glitz of the industry. He absolutely loved it.
Kennedy also came after McCarthy. It was the rise of Kennedy that coincided with the final ending of the so-called “Blacklist” that had, according to myth, prevented Hollywood screenwriters and directors from working for a few years. Through the power of film, Hollywood painted a picture of an American Gestapo, peeking into bedrooms and trampling on the civil rights of poor liberals, who, God forbid, happened to be millionaire Jewish Hollywood big shots. Very oppressed people.
Check out some of the trash that depicts McCarthyism, and you may notice something odd. The Senators, always readily identified as Republicans, are usually fictitious. They are carefully chosen for their pursed lips, pinched expressions, uptight manners and general disaffection for humanity. But they are often not based on real people. They almost ever depict McCarthy. Why? Because these “events” are not based on real things that happened. It is, virtually all of it, a damnable, Orwellian lie (to borrow from Ann Coulter, author of Treason).
Hollywood was not always liberal. D.W. Griffith’s Birth of A Nation (1915) was downright racist, but like Leni Riefenstahl’s Nazi Olympics documentary, it was brilliant. John Wayne, often directed by the patriot John Ford, portrayed cowboy heroes, dominating screens in the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s. Gone With the Wind (1939) was a fabulous, endearing portrait of the Old South that would never be made today because it “glorified” a racist society. The Hayes Codes provided standards to protect viewers from so-called “indecent” activity like pregnancy and couples sleeping with each other. J. Edgar Hoover found out that Charlie Chaplin, a British citizen, was a member of the Communist Party, and had the temerity to inform Chaplin that he knew this fact.
In 1939, Frank Capra made Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, starring Jimmy Stewart. According to sources a film was made 10 years later that depicted the Republican as a good guy, but this could not be verified. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington apparently is the last big screen film in which the Democrat was the bad guy, and even then it is only inferred. In Capra’s classic, a midwestern political machine based on the corrupt Democrat organization in Kansas City that Harry Truman rose to power in, is exposed by an idealistic young Senator (Stewart). Claude Rains plays the Truman character. He looked just like him, and in the end gives a Senate floor mea culpa of his complicity with Democrat crimes, which is highly, precisely and to quintessential effect the same one “Give ’em hell Harry” should have given, but never did. All is not lost for the Democrats, however, because Stewart is still a Democrat, and the hope for the future. In reality, the Democrats just got more corrupt, and Hollywood would be their willing ally.
Capra made hopeful family pictures like It’s A Wonderful Life, and Hollywood had a decidedly patriotic feel to it. Daryl Zanuck was an American legend, and his 1962 classic The Longest Day, featuring an all-star cast led by Duke Wayne, holds up to this day as an accurate portrayal of D-Day. After a spate of quick combat pictures after the war, however, things had changed. Film noir became stock in trade. Movies of dark psychological character study, social conflict and post-war angst hit the scene. The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit, starring Gregory Peck, exploited the “failure” of the American Dream. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, audiences began to see something different, but they could not quite put their finger on what it was. It was subliminal, except when it was obvious.
Since the U.S. had been allied with the Soviets in the war, it seemed natural that Hollywood would put out movies depicting the Russians in battle. Fair enough. It seemed just as fair as making movies about the British. But the Soviet war pictures were different. They were less about realistic portrayal of their courageous defense of Stalingrad, and more about the “joys” of Marxism. Movies like Song of Russia were pure propaganda, promoting Communism as the future. Other films would show handsome Russian soldiers in foxholes with beautiful Russian girls and wise old Russian men, spouting phrases straight out of The Communist Manifesto while happily killing Nazis. Gregory Peck was in such a movie, and he must have been ashamed, not just because he was doing Stalin’s PR., but because it was such utterly bad cinema.
As Slim Pickens would have said, “What in the wide, wide world of sports is goin’ on here?” Congress noticed these clunkers and began to ask, “Who in God’s name is making this stuff?” The House Un-American Activities Committee had been investigating Communism for several years, and suddenly became elevated in the public eye by a Republican Congress consisting of patriotic war veterans after the 1946 midterms. Hollywood of course would have the gullible public believe HUAC was created simply to make those liberal Hollywood Jews stop making liberal movies. In reality, it grew out of the Venona Project, which had identified hundreds of Communists working in the Democrat State Department, the Army, and both the FDR and Truman Administrations.
The 1950s have been described as an “American reign of terror” in Hollywood. Many of those questioned about their terrible stint on the Blacklist, when pressed further, often refer to extended periods in Paris or the south of France, where they found work in the avante garde French movie business which saw its heyday in that decade, led by the work of Jean Luc Goddard. A real Gulag Archipelago. In the meantime, American boys fighting the very Communists they sympathized with were getting their asses shot off in the Chosin Reservoir.
Based on a great novel by Allen Drury, Advise and Consent was a 1962 film that holds up today as one of the best political movies ever. It revolves around the nomination of Henry Fonda to be Secretary of State. The fictional account portrays Fonda, based on Alger Hiss, and his nomination raises a huge hullabaloo. In Hollywood’s perfect world, Hiss/Fonda is not convicted, and a bungling Burgess Meredith plays the Whittaker Chambers character. Instead of using his Christian resolve to uncover the Truth via his “pumpkin papers,” he is discredited as a liar. It also offers an insidious plot to blackmail a bi-curious Republican Senator. It is good stuff, but definitely political revisionism.
1960 was the “official” end of the Blacklist. A young director named Stanley Kubrick had made a brilliant movie about military justice, Paths of Glory, starring Kirk Douglas in 1957. In 1960, he directed the classic, Spartacus. Spartacus starred Douglas as a slave of the Roman Empire, depicting his deadly rivalry with the Roman General Crassus (played to perfection by Laurence Olivier). The film was rife with social message. The slaves who rise up against their Roman oppressors are metaphors for the working class, especially minorities, rising up against white oppression. One black slave, played by ex-football star Woody Strode, gives his life so Spartacus can live. The fact that he was black was well calculated. Dalton Trumbo, a former Communist, wrote Spartacus. He penned it under an assumed name because he was still Blacklisted. When it came time to edit the film for release, Douglas, a huge star and its producer, made the decision to list Trumbo as the writer. His power and the film’s success combined with this act ended the Blacklist. In a notorious scene that was cut from the original but has since been restored, a slave named Antoninus (Tony Curtis) bathes Crassus/Olivier. Strange wordplay about a preference between snails and oysters at first seems irrelevant until one realizes it is Trumbo’s effort to introduce a homosexual theme to the story, using snails and oysters as metaphors for straight and gay love, and the moral relevance of both. Isn’t that special?
Hollywood would employ former Blacklisted writers and directors. There were not very many of them, and only a few of them possessed real talent. But the real “end of the Blacklist” was the new direction of film content. Film was established as the most powerful medium in the world, a combination of high art and cultural media. Hollywood was going to get their licks in. Big time.
With the death of John Wayne, outside of the occasional Clint Eastwood film and perhaps a handful of others, the American movie industry is now a kind of arm of the Democrat National Committee, or worse yet, world Socialism.
In 2015, the industry produced Trumbo, a bio-pic of Dalton Trumbo. The film was average at best and tried to stay factual without beating Republicans over the head, but this is not the point. The point is that films like this demonstrate a strange, unfathomable association with Communism. To look at this in clear light, consider what would happen if they made movies sympathetic to the Nazis. They certainly cannot make movies about “Republican Nazis,” since none could be found walking around on the Earth.
So the question is asked, “What is the difference between the Communists and the Nazis?” Well, one answer to that question is, “About 100 million people.” Approximately 11-12 million people died in the Holocaust, about half of them Jewish. The Nazis were pikers compared to the Communists, who if one tries to estimate how many were killed in North Korea, the revised murder count of the Cultural Revolution, and adds it to the “statistics” compiled by the rest of international Communism since 1917, may be as high as 120 million human beings. In the U.S.S.R., particularly during the “doctor’s plot” near the end of Joe Stalin’s life, the Soviets probably killed as many Jews as Hitler.
Other similar characteristics include “cradle to grave” Socialism, whether it is Czechoslovakia’s “Socialism with a human face,” or Hitler’s National Socialism. It is all “big government liberalism” in one form or another, and it is all the opposite of the desire for small government favoring rugged individualism and free market capitalism, that is at the core of conservatism.
Yet Hollywood continues to make films glorifying the likes of Dalton Trumbo. Yes, he may have been treated unfairly, as were others, but the continued fascination and sympathy for these people never seems to ask the really obvious question, which is: Why on Earth would you join the Communist Party in the first place?
Perhaps Christians are the best conspiracy theorists on this subject, positing the idea that such a thing can happen only in a fallen world controlled by the Enemy.
Steven Travers is a former screenwriter who has authored 30 books. He is a USC graduate, played professional baseball, attended law school, worked in politics, served in the Army, and was a sports agent before finding his calling as a writer. He has written for the San Francisco Examiner, L.A. Times, StreetZebra, Gentry magazine, and MichaelSavage.com. He lives in California and has one daughter, Elizabeth.