Reduction Ad Concussio

By Jesse Taylor
Sunday, October 12, 2008 19:11 EDT
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imageI’m sure we’re all familiar with the logical fallacy reductio ad absurdum, wherein a position from which an absurd outcome can be derived is rendered invalid because it led to an absurd conclusion. Hollywood conservatives have now invented reductio ad concussio, wherein any commentary on conservatives in Hollywood which sounds like a criticism of actual oppressed minorities therefore makes Hollywood an oppressor of conservatives. Case in point is Andrew Klavan’s piece in the Washington Post today, wherein the multiple-time screenwriter complains about how the industry that’s gainfully employed him for over two decades oppresses people like him. It’s like slavery, except that you set your hours, can quit any time you so desire, and is in no way oppressive or restrictive in any way, shape or form that would so impact a burgeoning member of the film and television industry.

Basically, Bruce Willis is like a white male, multimillionaire Harriet Tubman. And the Underground Railroad is a Learjet.

There are five myths of Hollywood Klavan lays out with precision and care.

1.) Hollywood has no political agenda — it’s just out to make money.

All through 2007, Hollywood sent American multiplexes the message: “We don’t like the war on terror.” All year, American moviegoers sent a message back to Hollywood: “We don’t care.” “Lions for Lambs,” “In the Valley of Elah,” “Redacted,” “Rendition” — movie after movie in which our film-land elites derided U.S. efforts to smack down Islamist terrorism bombed at the box office. Even the guys who ran Fannie Mae would have figured out that this was a losing economic strategy. But not Hollywood; 2008 gave us even more anti-war flops, such as “Stop-Loss” and “War, Inc.” As ace film blogger John Nolte pointed out, only one war-on-terror film, the mediocre “Vantage Point,” did good business. Why? Because it showed Americans as the good guys they are. If Hollywood were all about making money, it would do that a lot more often.

As persuasive as that litany of offseason flops still isn’t, there’s a critical thing to realize about Vantage Point (trailer here): “random anti-American terrorists target the President” is a fairly repeated and common thriller premise. Off the top of my head Executive Decision and Air Force One come to mind, and I’m sure there are a half dozen others. If we’re to reason out what people hate by the types of movies that flop, then we can also reasonably intuit that they hate, among other things, science fiction, wacky comedies, fast cars, nudity, Eddie Murphy and Mike Myers. Message: stop making films, Hollywood. Just stop. 2.) Hollywood liberals speak truth to power.

In a pig’s eye — and a pig wearing lipstick at that. Sure, left-wing filmmakers are fearless when depicting snarling, evil Republican politicos, as in “The American President,” or savage environment-destroying businessmen, as in “Michael Clayton,” or the late Sen. Joseph McCarthy, as in the Edward R. Murrow hagiography “Good Night, and Good Luck.” But those make-believe right-wingers and long-dead senators have no power whatsoever over the filmmakers. The people who do have power are the executives and directors who hire them, the reviewers who bolster their product and the elite opinion-makers who lavish them with prizes and prestige — and they’re all part of the Hollywood left-wing establishment. To the true Hollywood power, liberal filmmakers speak nothing but slavish conformity . . . and after a while, they start to think it’s the truth.

I can’t think of any heavily-promoted movie starring A-list actors released in the past few months that in any way mocked or reviled the excesses of Hollywood. Not a damned one.

3. Hollywood liberals are liberal.

Is censorship liberal? Movie ideas that don’t toe the liberal line are hampered and censored at every level. I have personal knowledge of ideas that were shot down, drastically rewritten and limited in release simply because their themes were pro-American or pro-military.

But Hollywood supports unions, a stalwart Democratic cause, right? Well, yeah, if you watch “Norma Rae” or “Hoffa.” But in real life, filmmakers routinely outsource their productions to places such as Vancouver and Budapest, where they can avoid paying union premiums. And when the Writers Guild struck last year, we saw studio liberals turn into corporate hard-guys in the blink of an eye.

All right, but anyone who saw “The Contender,” with its tale of a female vice presidential candidate slandered by sexists, might think that the Hollywood left wouldn’t run down a politician because of her gender. Yet Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has found that this applies only if you conform to the leftist agenda. Hollywood insiders have attacked Palin with sexist remarks so low and crude they can’t even be repeated here.

It’s even easier to prove that “Hollywood insiders” are giant sexist haters when you don’t actually quote a single thing they say. I saw Andrew Klavan doing some thing in a Kids R Us that’s so disgusting it’s unmentionable. Even in a defamation suit.

Essentially, Hollywood liberals are giant illiberal haters who are anti-union corporatist sexists. Which in turn proves somehow that they’re giant Stalinist radicals who believe that voting for McCain is akin to lining up orphans alongside a brick wall and pulling a Red Dawn on their soft, impressionable heads.

4. Liberals don’t exclude conservatives; conservatives just aren’t that creative.

I get this in letters all the time — and even fielded it while sparring recently on washingtonpost.com: “Why don’t you just admit it? Conservatives have no talent!” But how often have we heard this argument made by those on the inside wanting to keep others out? “We’re not excluding blacks; they’re just not smart enough to manage baseball teams.” “It’s not that we wouldn’t hire a woman; women just don’t have a brain for business.” There are a million pro-American, pro-God, pro-family, pro-liberty stories waiting to be told and plenty of good writers and directors to tell them. Can’t they film “Hard Corps,” the autobiography of Navy Cross recipient Marco Martinez, who went from being a New Mexico gangster to a Marine hero in Iraq? Or “My Men Are My Heroes,” the rousing story of Marine 1st Sgt. Brad Kasal and the taking of Fallujah? Forget it. The door is shut, the fix is in, and the blacklist — or at least a graylist — is alive and well.

Ah, finally. You know what being conservative is like? Being black or female. I mean, granted, you aren’t born that way, and there’s no real biological component to it, nor is there any actual evidence that conservatives in Hollywood are oppressed except that their choice in scripts apparently tends towards books like Hard Corps, which is charmingly described as:

Though experts now agree our forces overwhelmed Saddam Hussein’s disorganized army, Martinez and his men assumed they faced a vicious enemy, referred to by Martinez as terrorists, and killed scores while destroying buildings with their overwhelming firepower. His company suffered two wounded. Martinez never doubts that he fought to defend America’s freedom and freely admits his contempt for those who don’t appreciate this. The book is peppered with denunciation of biased news coverage, liberals, hippies, John Kerry and Anthony Swofford (ex-marine author of Jarhead), but readers who enjoy learning about the mechanics of an urban gang and of a marine platoon in combat are unlikely to object.

Never having written a screenplay, I’m going to venture a completely uninformed guess – if Hollywood made a movie about Martinez’s story, it would probably revolve around the gangster-to-soldier story and leave out how he became a jackass conservative fuckbag. Which, I would guess, would probably piss off every conservative who looks to this story as one that should be made into an uplifting film about how John Kerry wanted him dead or in MeCHA.

Going back to the original point, the basis for complaints of oppression usually comes from a systematic showing of actions and words which have a sum discriminatory effect towards the well being and success of the group at hand. It usually doesn’t come from “I have a well-paying and lucrative position but don’t get everything I want when I stamp my feet and hold my breath”. An American Carol is the most aggressively ideological comedy to ever gain wide release, was promoted by the largest conservative organs in America for weeks at a time, and even contained a handful of legitimate stars…and it bombed miserably. The same conservative actors who were in the movie will go on to make dozens more collectively, never punished for their perfidy against the Quasi-Socialist World Order.

And given how rapidly this meme has popped up, from dozens of conservatives in the industry not only gaining major play for their opinions but all secure in their future entertainment employment, isn’t there a giant element of bullshit to all of this? Alleging a blacklist when you have plenty of work, whining about not getting conservative movies being made on the cusp of you conservative movie being released – it’s a marketing ploy based on resentment to sell bad movies to an otherwise disinterested public on the sole basis of rebelling against a nonexistent system.

5. Hollywood leftists are patriotic in their own way.

Words — despite what you might have learned at university — actually have meanings. The meaning of the word patriotism is “love of country.” If you don’t love your country, you’re not a patriot. “When I see an American flag flying, it’s a joke,” the late director Robert Altman told the Times of London in January 2002. “America is dumb,” actor Johnny Depp, who lives in France, said in 2003. Receiving an award in Spain in 2002, actress Jessica Lange told the audience, “It makes me feel ashamed to come from the United States — it’s humiliating.”

Making anti-war films while American troops are under fire is not patriotic. Exporting movies that consistently show the United States in a bad light is not patriotic. Ceaselessly casting America and its government as the bad guy is not patriotic, either. And while, yes, I admit that there are many people of good will and patriotism on the left, those who love truth, courage, tolerance and America might be forgiven for wondering whether it isn’t time for regime change in Los Angeles.

Isn’t it a central tenet of American conservatism that government is bad and American government is super bad? Don’t they have a guiding belief that all Americans are to be armed in the case of necessary defiance and overthrow of the government? Isn’t everything he said pretty much not only the opposite of what he’s supposed to believe, but intensely un-American in and of itself?

One does, however, appreciate the freedom loving insinuation that using freedom of speech to make statements about the wisdom of armed conflict is unpatriotic. America would have expanded a lot faster if we hadn’t had those roving death squads of the surviving Founding Fathers shooting anyone who disagreed with prosecution and conduct of the War of 1812.

It seems to me that, having read what’s at least my fifteenth Hollywood conservative-penned screed about how much they have to take their millions of dollars over a mean glare and substandard cocktails, the main problem with making conservative movies is that conservatives are preternaturally bad thinkers who are way too obsessed with everything they’re entitled to rather than working for their rewards. It’s a shame we may never get to see the conservative Blade Runner: after Deckard takes down the first replicant, he spends the rest of the movie working with anti-replicant think tanks to complain about how the liberal media is downplaying the replicant menace. Eventually, he gets an op-ed and a book deal, like every conservative hero.

Jesse Taylor
Jesse Taylor
Jesse Taylor is an attorney and blogger from the great state of Ohio. He founded Pandagon in July, 2002, and has also served on the campaign and in the administration of former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland. He focuses on politics, race, law and pop culture, as well as the odd personal digression when the mood strikes.
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