Horowitz vs. Hollywood
By: Paul Bond
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, June 03, 2003
Those who write Hollywood's TV shows and movies are unusually receptive to conspiracy theories that accuse President George W. Bush and his administration of horrible things. They are also quite intolerant of the Religious Right — the mere mention of which oftentimes elicits insulting bouts of laughter. And they love to romanticize the Hollywood blacklist era, which they invoke often, usually at any mention of the Dixie Chicks, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins or Sean Penn.
And they’re prone to shout down those who disagree with them.
All this was made fairly clear at a recent Writers Guild of America event appropriately titled “We’re Fighting For Freedom of Speech, So Kindly Shut Up!”
The panel discussion pitted a couple of brave conservatives (who were often verbally abused by the WGA audience) against five "liberals" (all of whom were routinely cheered).
Actor/activist Mike Farrell got the conspiratorial ball rolling early on when he argued that the Bush administration works hard at stifling dissent. A curious position when you consider that Farrell has been making that point repeatedly on television, radio and in print for months, proving that if there is an effort to quiet dissenters, it hasn’t been very effective.
After talking about it for two years, the United States rushed into the recent war against Saddam Hussein without any “serious debate” in the media, Farrell said. That being the case, “celebrities chimed in.” That, apparently, was when he and his celebrity cohorts ran into a “right-wing organized effort” to shut them up.
Another conspiracy addressed by panelists and several hundred WGA members who attended the event had to do with Karl Rove being, apparently, the presidential puppet master who secretly plans everything Bush does and says.
And, since Los Angeles Times columnist Robert Scheer was a panelist, the charge that the U.S. military faked the famous rescue of Jessica Lynch was mulled over. Scheer has dedicated two recent columns in support of that particular conspiracy. His most recent column on the topic calls the Pentagon’s version of the rescue of Pvt. Lynch a “mythic tale.”
Scheer suggested that what ought to anger Hollywood writers more than the alleged Lynch cover-up are, in his view, the obvious government lies told about Iraq having links to the terrorist organization Al Qaeda. Not to mention the lies about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.
The audience applauded Farrell’s and Scheer’s conspiracy talk, but it really whooped it up when Gioconda Belli, the acclaimed leftist poet and novelist from Nicaragua, bashed American Christians. George W. Bush is dangerous, she asserted, merely because he says prayers while in the White House.
Also included among the five liberals were Ramona Ripston, executive director of the ACLU of Southern California, and Frank Pierson, the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and screenwriter of such movies as “Cat Ballou” and “Dog Day Afternoon.”
David Horowitz, the author who runs the Web site FrontPageMag.com as well as the Center for the Study of Popular Culture, represented the conservative point of view. He was joined by Craig Titley, whose screenplay credits include “Scooby-Doo” and the upcoming remake “Cheaper by the Dozen” starring Steve Martin.
Award-winning journalist Jill Stewart hosted the WGA event.
The leftists dutifully denounced all those who dared suggest that celebrities need pay any sort of price for their political activism. Most attendees seemed to agree that radio stations that refused to play Dixie Chicks songs and organizations that might have decided against inviting to their events well-known celebrity political activists were guilty of blacklisting.
Scheer called the current climate “more frightening” than the one that ushered in the McCarthy hearings.
Horowitz pointed out that he himself was strong critic of of McCarthy's tactics but that the Hollywood Communists of that era were not singled out for their ideas but because they were members of a conspiratorial organization that was run by Moscow and provided hundreds of spies for the Soviet Union. Communists were not idealists but people who supported the "greatest mass murderer in history." Horowitz called “delusional” the claim made by Farrell that President Bush plunged the country into war without allowing for debate.
The audience that had been so courteous when the Liberal panelists suddenly lost its cool.
“Oh for God’s sake, I don’t care,” one man said aloud as Horowitz tried to give his lesson on the late Sen. Joseph McCarthy and the House Committee on Un-American Activities.
At least one person in the audience hurled the "F word" at Horowitz, and another shouted, “Who the hell is this jerk?” One audience member called Horowitz “a professional Arab-hater.”
But for those who seek a little political balance in the writing of the TV shows and movies they watch, the event wasn’t all bad news. One audience member took to the microphone and, after noting that he in no way agreed with everything Horowitz said, he nevertheless objected to the audience's attempts to silence him.
“I’m very embarrassed by the WGA,” the man announced, just before someone shouted at him to “shut up and sit down.”
After the audience shouted Horowitz down for the umpteenth time (which only served to expose the irony of the entire event) Horowitz summed up his audience: “The smugness in this room is just stifling, " he said, "and one good reason why so many of the views expressed seem to refer to an alternate reality” -- a fact that should have been obvious to everyone present.
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