So spake Oscar Levant.
Comedian Fred Allen had another great quote: “You can take all the sincerity in Hollywood and stuff it in a gnat’s navel and still have room for three caraway seeds and an agent’s heart.”
Hollywood is well known for its off screen characters. Its vicious producers who treat their staff worse than slaves. Its drug addled celebs who are always checking in and out of rehab. Its fake wannabes who tell you how wonderful you are while they hate you in their mind. It’s a place known for the carpet of eggshells its minions must tread lightly on. And even the most powerful can fall from grace if their company’s stock slides or a big picture bombs.
No one is really safe there. So fear is the true king of Hollywood. Or make that Emperor with a capital E.
In such a climate it’s not surprising that many there have extreme personalities and beliefs. They look to strange religions and philosophies to sooth their worried minds. It’s bad enough that most of us mortals only have to worry about our jobs and our health. In the ‘Logan’s Run‘ reality of La La Land, you’re “old” at 35 and a senior citizen north of 40. As ridiculous as that sounds.
And the place is noted for its lack of faith. While there are many religious people there, they don’t want to admit it unless it’s a religion that’s not part of any Christian orthodoxy. Can’t have that. Christians are seen to be equal to Islamist bombers, or worse, rednecks! Yes, this is a belief held by those who think Kaballah Water and E-Meters are the height of rational thought.
But not everyone in Hollywood is like you see in the tabloids. Many are working people whose craft just happens to be entertainment. They really aren’t that much different that the rest of America. After all, that’s where most of them came from.
For every loon, crank, deviate and strange-o, there are three or four decent, ordinary people there with a head on their shoulders. And many people there are like you and I, trying to get ahead in this crazy world and take care of their family.
Yet fear rules that town. And one of the greatest fears is being perceived as belonging to the wrong club. As Lionel Barrymore once put it: “Half the people in Hollywood are dying to be discovered and the other half are afraid they will be.”
You see, at one time Hollywood was largely made up of all kinds of people, of all sorts of political persuasions. But at some point after the 50s, that changed with the culture. People on the left took over most of the positions of power. And many of them felt they had to punish anyone who deviated from the approved script. Perhaps they felt they had to use the media to push their political views, as they felt conservatives had done to them. Perhaps they felt their perception of reality is the only one that matters and nothing else was acceptable.
If you wanted to get ahead, you had to play the game by their rules.
The end result is we’re pounded day in and day out with one cliche after another. The old cliches like the flighty woman and the black pimp were replaced by new ones, only even more trite. Policemen were only seen as good in the Hayes Code days, now they’re mostly seen as bad. Unless they have a hit TV show. And corporations are evil. And men are stupid. Women are all smart and capable. Minorities are almost never the bad guy. And villains are white guys unless they’re part of a multi-cultural gang with a delicate mix of minorities.
And if you don’t accept this view, or if you do something really insane like believe that America is an exceptional place which is a force for good in the world. Why, you better not let anyone hear you!
Think about it…what kind of place would make people feel ashamed of sticking up for their side in the war on terror? What kind of place would make it a social crime to support your government or want to express patriotic thoughts in a public forum?
Fortunately, while fear may rule Hollywood, it doesn’t scare everyone. People are coming out to say that it’s OK to be yourself. If Tom Cruise can defend L. Ron Hubbard’s “tech”, if Madonna can invest millions in “Kabbalah Centers”, if Stephen Soderbergh can make movie love to a murderous thug like Che Guevara, why can’t we say we think American is a mighty fine place. What’s the harm in that? Why is that “crazy” or “stupid?”
Many of the people sneering at “conservatives” fail to realize that most people, including “liberals”, even lefties, happen to like the United States. They may have their problems with it. Everyone does. We all have plenty of reason to complain about the state of things. But ultimately, there’s no where else most of us would want to live.
Notice that Michael Moore did not move to Canada or Cuba despite their “great health care”. Sean Penn may have visited Iraq when Saddam was in Power, and hobnobbed with Hugo Chavez, but he didn’t buy a house in their countries. Funny how the people who claim to have so many issues with the states sure do like living here.
See! They do have something in common with conservatives.
In fact, many of the Hollywood crowd who liked to condemn President Bush or question our motives in Iraq are just saying that to look cool. To fit in with their crowd. In the 50s, it helped to be a smoker to fit in. In the 60s and 70s, it helped to be a druggie. The trend lately was be a lefty, America-basher. But with Bush out and Obama in, we can’t have that anymore. You can’t bash America with a black president. That wouldn’t be PC! Besides, he’s a Democrat.
Watch Hollywood change its tune. Meanwhile, those of us with a consistent point of view have something to say. To paraphrase Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction: “I’m not going to be IGNORED!!!”