Wednesday, September 15, 2004

TV: Rated R: Republicans in Hollywood

AMC aired this documentary by former Clinton/Gore staffer Jesse Moss last night. It’s a look at the burgeoning influence of conservatives in Hollywood, loosely organized around Arnold Schwarzenegger’s gubernatorial campaign. Frequent mention is also made of THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST’s box office success.

Moss tries to get Republican celebrities to talk about their beliefs on camera. The big names like Bruce Willis and Mel Gibson don’t speak to him. Neither does Heather Locklear, who in my opinion is making a huge mistake. Republicans need a spokesbabe. Bush may be in for four more years, but we all know Heather’s new show LAX won’t live out the season. The people Moss does include represent the spectrum of Republican thought: small government libertarian (Drew Carey), pro-life (EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND’s Patricia Heaton), military first (John Milius). There’s also bad boy Vincent Gallo, whose conservatism was sparked as a youth when he saw all-American Johnny Unitas square off against selfish hedonist Joe Namath in Super Bowl III. It’s a diverse range of views, although I haven’t been able to take Milius seriously since learning he was the inspiration for John Goodman’s character in THE BIG LEBOWSKI.

A number of the Republicans Moss interviews talk about the need to take Hollywood back. They control all three branches of government but still view themselves as outsiders thanks to show business. Think of it in terms of high school. (I think of everything in terms of high school. It is the kiln that fires us all.) Republicans have the student government locked up, not to mention the glee club. All the hall monitors are theirs. But the cheerleaders ignore them, so they feel empty inside.

For further proof, consider the first annual conservative film festival, which you can read about here and here. Its genesis? A trip to the Little Rock art house, where the only options were BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE and FRIDA, which is about a Communist. “Where are the films for normal people?,” one of the festival’s founders asks.

At the mall, genius. Where the normal people are.

Side note: This is the first program I’ve watched on AMC in months. Tonight’s classic American movie is THE REAL McCOY (1993), with Kim Basinger and Val Kilmer. When it comes to thrillers about blonde single mom cat burglars that co-star people who share my initials, this one is easily in the top six.

TV: The Al Franken Show

A one-hour condensed version of each day’s Air America broadcast runs on Sundance Channel every night at 11:30. Just after THE DAILY SHOW ends, which I’m sure is not a coincidence.

For some inexplicable reason, Air America doesn’t have an affiliate in ultra-liberal Seattle, and I have no interest in downloading MP3s of Franken’s chat-fest, so this is my first exposure to the show.

TV ruins Franken’s best gag, the fake interview. He introduces a conservative guest and we can clearly see that it’s Tim Meadows, or Bebe Neuwirth, or some other actor playing a role. They then read scripts into microphones. It’s not exactly scintillating television. I couldn’t guess how well it plays on the radio.

Overall, the show is strident, one-note and relentlessly negative. Just like every other political talk show I’ve heard regardless of affiliation. The success of these programs only demonstrates that Americans are spending too much time stuck in traffic or at unfulfilling jobs.

Miscellaneous: Link

To keep today’s political streak going, here’s a reasonable statement of my views on the subject of free speech, from a man I regard as my personal spokesman, Penn Jillette. Courtesy of Mark Evanier’s News From Me.