In the four years Big Hollywood’s been online, we’ve argued, fought, debated, and on more than one occasion, went to war with the entertainment industry over this and that. This includes Academy Award-winning director Kathryn Bigelow over her anti-troop film, “The Hurt Locker.” But never once have we called for anyone to be boycotted, blacklisted, silenced, or ostracized over their political or cultural beliefs.
When some on our side suggested Michael Moore’s politics made him unworthy of a seat at the Motion Picture Academy, we stood with Moore. We’ve even heaped praise on the artistic merits of films that violate, insult, dismiss, smear, and lie about everything we believe in.
This is because we respect the difference between “debate” and “shut up,” and also respect the difference between politics and art. You can be historically, morally, and politically wrong about absolutely everything and still create great art out of your lies.
Whether it’s the motion picture or any other art form, to approach art in any other way is a form of soft-tyranny. To say or even hint at the notion that someone shouldn’t or can’t express an opinion or show what they believe to be true through their art is un-American. But to punish them when you have the power to do so, is outright fascism. It’s also a form of blacklisting, which is exactly what’s happened to Kathryn Bigelow at the hands of David Clennon, a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences:
I’m a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The Motion Picture Academy clearly warns its members not to disclose their votes for Academy Awards. Nevertheless, I firmly believe that the film ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ promotes the acceptance of the crime of torture, as a legitimate weapon in America’s so-called War on Terror. In that belief, following my conscience, I will not vote for ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ in any category… I cannot vote for a film that makes heroes of Americans who commit the crime of torture. …
As Kyle Smith so brilliantly put it….
Any reasonable definition of torture must exclude procedures that sane people would undergo on a lark. Journalists such as Kaj Larsen and Christopher Hitchens have volunteered to be waterboarded in exchange for nothing more than a cocktail-party anecdote and some copy.
…but I digress.
What we have here is an Academy member brazenly and openly abusing his power to punish a studio and a number of artists based solely on his own political beliefs. Moreover, he’s sending a chilling message to other filmmakers that there will be a price to pay — and not a small one — should they color outside of what members of the Academy consider politically appropriate lines.
The thing is, we’ve known for years this New Blacklist existed — that there’s a real price to pay in Hollywood for not fitting in politically. But now it’s taking another step. Instead of hiding in shame in the shadows where it belongs, someone is testing the waters to see if he can be the Rosa Parks of normalizing this Blacklist into open acceptance.
The question is, what will happen now?
Will Hollywood approve of Clennon’s outrageous behavior through silence, or worse, by jumping on board? Or will someone show some moral courage and stand up to a bully abusing his position in an attempt to justify and mainstream the punishing — not criticizing or arguing with — but the punishing of art and artists over political differences?
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC