For over a year, Big Hollywood contributors have been documenting Hollywood's intolerance towards all things conservative -- both when it comes to our ideas being given a fair shake in the industry's product and, most importantly, the intolerance towards individuals whose beliefs stray from the liberal plantation. Again and again, people have come to us to share the stories of how their social and political beliefs hurt their show business careers in ways both big and small. And to their great credit, most of these individuals have said so on the record;
with their names and faces prominently displayed in the upper left-hand corner of their Big Hollywood testimony.
Without fail, every single time someone tells their story here, the insulting snark hits from every corner of the web, dismissing out of hand our ever growing list of witnesses to this new blacklist. Sure, the Gawkers and the Farkers are entitled to their fun. They peddle in shallow superiority and there are plenty of buyers. Welcome to Al Gore's creation.
Lately, however, Patrick Goldstein, a film writer at the L.A. Times, has been taking his own partisan shots. Tuesday, after Jonathan Kahn came out in the Wall Street Journal
, there was this
[I]t's seems like quite a stretch to say that Kahn's politics have held him back. But that's what all too many conservatives do. They put the blame for their stalled careers on liberal Hollywood, when lack of marketable talent might be a far more likely source for the problem.
What's curious about this argument regarding Kahn needing "marketable talent" is how Goldstein willfully ignored this part of the WSJ story:
One person stunned to hear of Mr. Kahn's double life as a tea-party troubadour is top Hollywood record producer and Grammy Award-winner Walter Afanasieff. The two have worked on projects for years and are now midway through writing and producing an album for a young singer.
And what part of the following confused Goldstein?:
"And I'm just finding out about this now? Oh my God, I'm getting chills hearing it," Mr. Afanasieff says, when informed of his friend's sideline. "I mean, he's a member of a huge, Democratic, liberal organization called the Los Angeles entertainment business."
After digesting the news, he adds, "It's very wise he's going incognito."
Just to be clear: Goldstein writes about
the entertainment business, Afanasieff works in
the entertainment business. Goldstein thinks someone with a years-long working relationship with a Grammy-winning producer lacks marketable talent. Goldstein also thinks he knows more than a Grammy-winning producer about whether or not going incognito is wise for entertainment industry conservatives.
But "marketable talent" is a canard. When a well-known marketable talent
like Andrew Klavan made claims similar to Kahn's, Goldstein didn't pause for a second to summon a different kind of wrist-flicking dismissal
But where's the evidence that conservatives are denied jobs because of their political beliefs? For all the vague charges being bandied about, I've never heard any specific examples of suppression in action. If you're a conservative and can offer me chapter and verse, I will be happy to take up your cause.
So before I issue the challenge, let's start with a question:
Where's your curiosity, Patrick? Where's your healthy skepticism about the powerful? Most of the people that are talking about this are doing so openly. Not only are there more than one but they're telling the same story. Hmm? My understanding is that your job is to cover the film industry, to report and break stories, and yet your reaction to witness after witness after witness is never anything more than borderline contempt and complete disbelief.
Have you or anyone at the L.A. Times even bothered to try and contact Klavan or Kahn... Or anyone?
Of course not.
That kind of testimony upsets the comfortable narrative. Why, the very idea is too much for the progressive mind to bear. Conservatives aren't discriminated against, they discriminate!
This is what skeptical looks like.
Since you're obviously incapable of coming to grips with that, I'm going to challenge you instead to prove us wrong. No one's asking you to prove a negative. On the contrary, this challenge doesn't require you to rely on anyone not already in love with Hollywood.
THE PATRICK GOLDSTEIN 'PROVE BIG HOLLYWOOD WRONG' CHALLENGE
Your Test Subjects -- Lefties Who Love Them Some Hollywood:
Now we both know that throughout Tinseltown there are hundreds of character actors who aren't quite stars but work pretty steady. We see them in bit parts on television, on the big screen and in commercials. We recognize their faces but don't know their names. And they're not rich, not by any means. But they have competent representation, a solid if unspectacular resume, and spend most of their days running around town to audition and take meetings with potential employers who see thousands of people a month and therefore won't remember the last time they met our test subject.
This will be your pool -- a group of fairly established actors who live paycheck to paycheck. Mature adults who know how the world works.
Best of all, they're just like you: Liberals who love liberal Hollywood.
The Challenge -- 'Conservative Like Me':
You will find ten test subjects who meet the above criteria and for the next two months they will document what it's like to go undercover as they make the employment rounds as open conservatives in Hollywood.
Hi, I'm Patrick Goldstein with the L.A. Times. You have a sec?
For the L.A. Times? Course.
This may sound a little unorthodox, but I'm looking for some willing subjects to help with an investigative piece we're doing. People like yourself who pick up a half-dozen one or two line gigs a year.
Obviously, I'm always looking for that featured role, but sure.
You're familiar with McCarthyism, the blacklist and all that?
Well, we want to find out if something similar to that is happening today. A number of people have gone on the record claiming that their political beliefs are costing them work in the industry--
--and we would like your help in discovering whether or not that's true.
Of course. What do you need me to do.
For the next two months we'd like you to, in a way, go undercover--
Wonderful. Can you tell me a little bit about what a normal week is like for you, work-wise. How many meetings, auditions...
Well, pilot season's over, so things have slowed. A good
day right now is two meetings.
So 5 to 10 a week?
Give or take.
Perfect. Your assignment is that for the next two months, whenever you're around people you don't already know in the entertainment business -- especially people who can hire you -- you're going to pretend that you're a conservative Republican.
Don't get me wrong, no one's asking you to be strident or obnoxious. Nothing like that. We'll have you slap a "Newt 2012" sticker on your car, and once a week you'll spend the day wearing a Sarah Palin t-shirt
sit in the waiting rooms reading Sean Hannity's new book.
But that should be okay because people in your circle wear Obama t-shirts to meetings and auditions, right?
Again, we don't want you to be obvious. Don't bring up politics unless someone else brings it up. But if they do bring up a particular issue, you'll politely disagree and take the conservative side. In other words, all we're asking you to do is be as openly and politely conservative as they are liberal. You are now pro-life, opposed to same-sex marriage, and a Global Warming skeptic.
Nothing crazy. You're not a birther or calling Obama a Marxist or anything. In fact, we want you to be as thoughtful and considerate as possible as you explain why you didn't vote for Obama and why you think the health care bill is a debacle, the Iraq War was worth fighting, and how much fun you had at last weekend's Tea Party.
I should probably talk to my agent about this.
The first story you could write is about the reaction to this proposal. Since it's only crazy conservatives who believe right-of-center beliefs hold them back, why would anyone object to playing an open conservative for a couple of months as they search for a job.
Then after you find ten subjects, have them keep a diary and write the final story about how wrong all those nutjobs at Big Hollywood are.
This is what curiosity looks like.
My idea may not be perfect. But I'm not a journalist -- and the last person who called me one got knocked on his ass -- but you're looking for "chapter and verse" and I'm telling you that we've already done our job by getting our folks to go on the record. Now I'm daring you to do your job. Lay down the lazy snark and act like you work for a newspaper.
MEMO TO THE REST OF YOU:
All over the Internet I see people who claim to work in the industry laughing at those of us who believe holding openly right-of-center views can hurt a Hollywood career. If we're so wrong, try my Conservative Like Me
challenge. Just take two months to prove us wrong by convincing your co-workers, bosses, potential employers, clients and potential clients that you've changed your political views.
Prove us wrong.
Replace the Obama sticker with with a Jesus fish.
Prove us wrong.
Tell your potential client you were listening to Glenn Beck on the way over.
Prove us wrong.
Wear your Factor Gear.
Prove us wrong.
Talk about the pro-life rally you went to over the weekend.
Don't be obnoxious, don't be rude, don't be strident... Just be one of us.
Oh, and that revulsion you're feeling at just the thought of pretending you hold a conservative belief...? That proves our point.
You lefties are all about empathy and sympathy and walking a mile in someone's shoes.
Until you put up you can all shut up.