'L.A. Times': Political Films Flop Because They're Not Partisan Enough

Now that George Clooney’s been involved in yet another high-profile, political box office disappointment, it’s predictably time for the Los Angeles — we read it so you don’t have to — Times to charge to the rescue with the absurd claim that the current 100% failure rate of left-wing films over the last few years has nothing to do with partisan politics. In fact, the L.A. Times practices the art of The Big Lie through the ridiculous claim that the lack of partisan politics might explain their failure.

Let’s start with this nonsense:

And yet [Clooney’s] “Ides” seems bound for the same ephemeral status as so many other political allegories that have come and gone in recent years: “Man of the Year,” “Swing Vote,” “Bulworth,” “Lions for Lambs,” “Wag the Dog,” “Atlas Shrugged,” The Manchurian Candidate.” They’re movies that run the ideological gamut, yet most of them garnered middling reactions from both critics and the American public. And almost none of them have endured (with the possible, though only possible, exception of “Wag the Dog”).

There are plenty of challenges to dramatizing Washington these days. Among the much-digested issues: Real-life drama can seem so outlandish that no scripted entertainment can match it, while winds shift too quickly for comments on the process to be relevant by the time a film comes out. There may or may not have been something novel in “Ides'” message about the toll the system takes on idealism years ago, before Barack Obama’s presidency; there’s not much fresh nearly three years into his term.

So the theory here is that by the time these films come out, the subject matter they cover is no longer hot and therefore audiences have lost interest. How exactly does that theory apply to “The Manchurian Candidate” remake, “Bulworth,” and “Man of the Year?” Whatever your politics, those films aren’t ripped from the headlines or out to capture some political zeitgeist. There’s no stale date when it comes to “evil” weapons manufacturers, a politician who discovers the joy of telling (his version of) the truth, or the age-old tale of an everyman with a shot at the presidency. But the single most wrong-headed example here is “Lions for Lambs,” which actually was released in the heat of the political moment it wanted so desperately to capture: the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Moreover, it starred three A-listers and still managed to flop.

There are two more rhetorical tricks at work in the paragraphs above that need to be pointed out. The first is that the writer only has one right-of-center example, “Atlas Shrugged,” and thinks that’s enough to proclaim a pox on both houses. The second is that “Lions for Lambs” is the only anti-war film mentioned.

After a half-decade of ceaseless anti-war flops, why mention only one?

Well, mentioning the dozen or so anti-war flops kind of blows that stupid “wind-shifting” theory completely out of the water. Those films were all released while the wars and the heated debates surrounding them were in full effect. You can’t capture a bigger zeitgeist than that, and still, nobody went to see them — not even leftists. Never forget that in order to create a hit movie, Hollywood doesn’t need even a single Bitter Clinger to buy a ticket. There are enough dirty, filthy hippies populating America to make any film a box office smash.

But that was just the L.A. Times warming up for this howler:

Compounding the problem, of course, is that most Hollywood studios don’t want to take a stand that will alienate any part of the moviegoing audience. So a movie of any respectable budget — even one from an avowed Democrat like Clooney — will resort to making general, relatively toothless points about ‘the system,’ instead of specific points about one ideology or another. That’s a kiss of death in a time when partisan politics run so high, and a little boring to boot.

And of course when scores of blogs and cable-news programs come at us all the time, we’re wary of welcoming a new voice to the din, whether or not it has something interesting to say.

Again, only by avoiding the list of highly partisan anti-war films that flopped at a 100% rate is the L.A. Times able to make the absurd claim that liberal Hollywood’s liberal Hollywood movies aren’t succeeding because they’re not liberal enough.

So why is the L.A. Times doing this?

For starters, it’s a liberal newspaper and obviously no one there wants to face the sad fact that their ideology is being rejected — even by their fellow Lefties. They’re also afraid — especially with 2012 coming up — that Hollywood might stop making this propaganda and so their response is, not so surprisingly, DOUBLE DOWN!

“Double down” has always been the cry of the disillusioned Leftist after something they believe in has been proven a failure. More stimulus! More money for education! More gun control! And now, more divisive left-wing politics in political movies!

The L.A. Times also shares the same lack of understanding about the fundamental art of storytelling that our current crop of hackish liberal filmmakers do. The primary job of a storyteller is to cast a spell and hold it. When that spell’s broken, both the story and the storyteller have failed. Nothing, and I mean nothing, breaks that spell more abruptly than partisan politics, and it doesn’t matter what your personal ideology is. The moment the story stops for the preachy, pious, holier-than thou, sanctimonious sucker punch, you’ve lost your audience whether they agree with you or not.

In droves, liberals avoided these awful, highly partisan anti-war movies because they sucked. No one wants to be lectured to, and the filmmakers behind them lack the talent of, say, a young Oliver Stone or the legendary liberal filmmakers of the Golden Era to make their points through compelling stories as opposed to lazy, boorish hectoring and speechifying.

To further this point, let me refer you… here.

Each of those 25 liberal films has two things in common. They are openly and proudly liberal, and they push their ideology through the use of theme as opposed to the divisive, partisan approach the L.A. Times is advocating.

I love nuclear power, but I also love “Silkwood” because it is about a woman who comes into her own in search of the truth.

I love our military, but I love “M*A*S*H*” because it’s about refusing to conform.

I believe abandoning our South Vietnam allies is one of the most shameful acts in our country’s history, but I love “Platoon” because it is about a terrified young man who must choose between doing the right thing and dying and doing the wrong thing and surviving.

In a desperate bid to convince Hollywood to keep making liberal propaganda, the L.A. Times is demanding more of the disease that poisons the box office: divisive partisan politics.

But maybe I shouldn’t have written this piece. After all, few things make my happy dance happier than watching these films bounce like a dead cat.


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