I was honored recently to be invited on the “Political Punks” podcast, joining Bret R. Smith, Lisa DePasquale, Chris Baron, and Matt Palumbo. I highly recommend the show, especially the episodes in which I do not appear.
During our discussion of the current cancel culture climate, we touched upon the rank hypocrisy of the entertainment industry. Specifically, we discussed how the Hollywood celebrities and power brokers rushing to harangue Georgia for both promoting and protecting the voting process, are the same wealthy elitists filming in genocidal communist China and kowtowing to the Beijing regime’s racist dictates erasing persons of color and pro-American messaging from films.
The Hollywood elite’s rationale? It’s entirely unoriginal: It’s just to make a sordid buck (or, actually, renminbi). The irony of their villainy and self-parody is lost upon a Hollywood elite that decries the Communist “blacklist” while enforcing a far more discriminatory “red-list” against conservatives in the entertainment industry.
The reasons for the Hollywood elite and the creative community’s present and historic lemming-like attraction to the Left’s tyrannical ideology is instructive. Much like academe, it is less intellectual than it is emotional and, for the more cynical among them, it’s just practical.
Yes, there are legacy leftists among the Hollywood elite. Further, given the entertainment industry’s reliance on connections and trends, the practical rationale for the Hollywood elite to parrot the leftist party line at any given time is self-evident. If an aspiring star ever wants to work in that town again, she needs to be on the Left. Yet, one must also seek to understand why many within the creative community truly embrace such patently ludicrous leftist idiocies, such as socialism, systemic racism, apocalyptic environmentalism, and a four-year-old’s ability to demand—and obtain—a sex change.
No more than woke corporate extortionists will cease rent-seeking for tax breaks, subsidies, and other favors from “backsliding Jim Crow” legislatures, wealthy celebrities and their enablers are not going to donate their million-dollar mansions to BLM activists just because they say they believe in socialism. (Though they might sell them one.) Despite the obvious disconnect, the Hollywood elite truly believe what they preach, even if they don’t practice it.
Emotionally, they have no choice.
While it is a normal fact of life for everyone, when it comes to artists—especially mediocre ones—insecurity is especially rife and intense. In the post-modern construct, a work of art is no longer considered the result of the artist channeling inspiration from God or from the zeitgeist. The artist is the inspiration and, ergo, the ultimate work of art. Consequently, criticism of an artist’s work is inherently deemed a personal criticism of the artist. For artists—indeed, all leftists—who live for external validation from the collective, criticism of their art is an attack upon their person.
Enter left-wing ideology. For artists addled with insecurity about how the world receives their art, leftist politics allows them to escape into the embrace of the collective. In this light, these artists’ political virtue signaling is less a critique of “conservatives” than it is a cry for acceptance by their fellow leftist artists in particular, and the Hollywood community in general. It is why the emotional blackmail of the collective canceling proves a powerful impetus for artists to denigrate their art by placing it in the service of the leftist party line.
Consider the timorous woke comedians who claim humor should no longer be funny, because it may cause offense. While there are some exceptions to the rule, they prove the point: woke may not be box office, but it is an emotional crutch for the terminally insecure.
For the Hollywood elite, the resultant hypocrisy is a small price to pay for being accepted by other hypocrites, and one that can easily be justified away by “orange man bad” or some other talismanic mantra. It is the damaging effect upon the arts and the creative community, itself, that is too often overlooked.
The greatest artists are often the most egotistical. While this is a vice in polite company, it is also a tremendous strength for an artist. It allows artists to forge ahead with their unique visions regardless of criticism and, potentially, entertain and edify society. But this requires an artist to be able to tell the world why it is wrong, regardless of the consequences to oneself. Too few artists—indeed, too few people—have the moral courage to live without the need for external validation, especially in our social media-riven age.
Perhaps, it is too much to hope more in the creative community will come to reject the false succor of the woke collective; and realize the wisdom of Emerson: “If the single man plants himself indomitably on his instincts, and there abide, the huge world will come around to him.”
Nah, they’ll call it sexist and cancel him.
“Hooray for Hollywood . . . .”