January 14, 2005,
They're here, they're queer, and they hate George W. Bush, dammit.
Or something along those lines.
It's no breaking news that Hollywood has Left-wing tendencies and that its residents would generally not be able to make it through a red-state Bible study. But unless you're living there, you probably can't fully appreciate just how deep the red-blue divide may be.
Andrew Breitbart who works with Matt Drudge on the infamous Drudge Report is a lifelong area guy Brentwood born and bred. With co-author Mark Ebner, he recently told some tales out of town on how the Hollywood set lives, what they think, and what they think about the rest of us; it's all in their book Hollywood Interrupted. The book hit the New York and Los Angeles Times bestseller lists and will be released in paperback next month.
With Golden Globes being awarded this weekend and Oscars in the air and nowhere to hide from Brad and Jen rumors, Michael Jackson coverage, and all the rest of the pop-candy news NRO Editor Kathryn Lopez instant messaged with Breitbart [it's 2005, and we're both in the web-pioneers club, what would you expect? KJL] about glamour politics, prickly pretension...and a maybe even little dishing.
National Review Online: The People's Choice Awards were relatively low key, politically last weekend. Is there a new, less pontificating, mood in Hollywood, or was it a fluke?
Andrew Breitbart: Well, I think that Michael Moore telegraphed the strategy: Pretend to be nice to red-state America, repeat an oath to the Left's redefined notion of patriotism. Rinse. Repeat.
Moore is clearly of the Pelosi opinion that America has not rejected the Left's radical message just that they haven't heard it, heard it properly, or some such delusion that allows for them to not have to face the hardships of their dire political predicament.
What we will see in the pending award season is a wink-and-nod political posturing and mostly under-the-breath brand of celebrity activism. The industry suits are rightfully worried the American audience is now perfectly clued into the sheer extremism of an out-of-touch celebrity class.
After labored niceties at the Golden Globes this weekend, a Sean Penn or Susan Sarandon will offer some illogical poetic jibe and an audible but small portion of the crowd will whoop it up.
"Thank Gaia someone spoke truth to power!"
I envision Denzel Washington, who was excellent this year in the underrated Man on Fire, being caught on camera trying to stoically avoid the awkwardness.
NRO: Speaking of the Golden Globes: Any predictions?
Breitbart: Mediocrity. Joyless self-righteousness.
The best documentary this past year wasn't Fahrenheit 9/11 and, understandably, it wasn't nominated. The Golden Globes: Hollywood's Dirty Little Secret exposed that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which chooses the winners, is basically a group of 90 or so film-junket moochers by day/waiters by night who have a comically disproportionate power compared to their real vocational worth.
What will likely win a lot is the hysterically over-praised Sideways, which played to blue-state art-house nihilism. Anyone that considers NPR news will find Sideways a great comedy. And the film has only made about $25 million to date proving its mediocrity.
NRO: I'll leave Harry and his swastika to the Brits, but what is up with the "Fidel Fetishists," as you put it in Hollywood Interrupted? Robert Redford, Spike Lee, Robert DeNiro, Christopher Walken, Sidney Pollak, Woody Harrelson, Johnny Depp, Francis Ford Copppla, Danny Glover, Ed Asner, Shirley MacLaine, Alanis Morissette, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kevin Costner, Oliver Stone, and Steven Spielberg to name some names have all gone down to hang with and pay homage to Uncle Fidel. What is the attraction? (And, oh, by the way: Wouldn't you understand a little something about the evils of tyranny from making Schindler's List?)
Breitbart: Mucho elitism mixed con grande groupthink.
Hollywood royalty wishes to maintain an adversarial relationship with its fan base. Many stars sought fame and fortune to escape their bourgeois upbringings. By fetishizing the poor and oppressed, and in honoring Fidel's revolution, this substantive celebrity subgroup advocates an unachievable egalitarian ideal while creating a wedge between themselves and their fellow countrymen in the wretched middle class.
It goes without saying that Leo DiCaprio would rather be seen in Havana than caught dead at Wal-Mart.
NRO: We all know about Alec Baldwin's false promises to move and the Canada-exile talk and the like from your coast people wanting to flee rather than live in a land with George W. Bush as president. How much of that is real? Do they really hate Bush, or is it just one of the things the cool kids do?
Breitbart: They truly hate Bush, and, for the most part, few can draw a distinction between that which they politically hate about him and the policies that enamored them with Clinton.
It is a very emotional situation from a very emotional group of people. These are not the type of people you would want next to you in a bunker during war. That said: These are the people more than some of us don't mind watching partially nude on pay cable. So we must somehow learn to live with one another again.
NRO: So, how many non-Bush haters are there? Is it your feeling that there are more conservative types (maybe not NR subscribers, but people who basically want what we want, etc., voted for Bush) than we'll ever know in Hollywood?
Breitbart: To my surprise I am finding that there are a lot more non-liberals in Hollywood than I had once suspected. It's just that they live in the closet. Until things change I still can't recommend they come out either.
Conservatives exist in the closet in Hollywood because they know the nature of hiring out here. People hire people they are comfortable with. And most liberals in Hollywood detest conservatives.
Hollywood produces at least two blacklist-era inspired films a year, and it is a staple on serial television. My father-in-law, who was, in fact blacklisted in the '50s, was just on the Jerry Bruckheimer series, Cold Case, playing, what else?, a blacklisted writer.
Yet the lesson of not punishing those with whom you hold political differences is lost on the very people who insist it is the most important message of our time.
NRO: You're a winger doing your thing out there. How much to you mingle with the Hollywood scene? Is it relatively avoidable if that's your inclination?
Breitbart: I grew up in Brentwood. And though my family was in the restaurant business it was impossible not to be socially immersed in "the industry."
If you don't disagree with these people on politics, some can be as decent as anyone you'd ever want to meet. But once out of the closet, one becomes a marked person.
At parties I see people who now know where I stand, and I see them working up the courage to confront me. I try to be as jocular as humanly possible just to irk them. I don't want to be immediately dismissed as some puritan or Nazi. But eventually he or she will steer the conversation to weapons of mass destruction or "neocons" and the discussion goes quickly south from there. At that point my wife usually has to separate us. On the drive home, I find myself resorting to grade-school form: "But I swear I didn't start it."
NRO: Is it possible to raise normal kids in Hollywood?
Breitbart: The verdict is still out. I sure hope so. However, I've given up trying to stop the environmental indoctrination. It's simply everywhere out here.
The first day of kindergarten for my son started with an admonition about bringing lunch to school with anything that can be thrown away as trash.
On the second day he was told that we shouldn't eat Chilean sea bass. Guess what we had for dinner that night?
What drives me the craziest is watching "regular" parents go to great lengths to get their kids in the same school or extracurricular class with the kids of celebrities. I've wracked my brain and I can't see the benefit of being in the same "Gymboree" as Ethan Hawke. I'm less worried about the kids than I am the adults. Seriously.
NRO: Your book's been out awhile now: any blowback? Your co-author is more mainstream than you, will he ever get a job in this town again, as they say?
Breitbart: The only blowback we got was certain mainstream media, like The Today Show, telling us after booking us that we couldn't come on the show. And I don't blame them either.
The book was not meant to portray the media, especially the mainstream news media, in a particularly good light. And they have no obligation to subject themselves to raw criticism over coffee and cantaloupe.
Not only is the news media prone to a liberal media bias. They also enforce a strict class system that promotes Hollywood folly above all else.
I would say this about the book, though. The basic all-encompassing critique of the celebrity class became a dominant, if not labored, topic during the election cycle.
I wouldn't say Mark is more mainstream than I am. In fact he is insane in a good way. He now works for American Media where I always thought he belonged.
NRO: What's Michael Jackson's fate? Better question: How many cable news hours will be devoted to him this year and why?
Breitbart: The wall-to-wall Jackson coverage is less a function of how interesting the story is than of how big the cable television universe has become since the O.J. trial. There's simply too much space to fill. If Laci Peterson warrants around-the-clock coverage, the self-styled "King of Pop" certainly does.
I don't know if he is guilty. I don't play that game, and I don't pay close enough to the particulars to weigh in. But at that exact moment that he settled that 1993 suit with the Chandler family to the tune of $20 million, he no longer had the benefit of the doubt when he played the Peter Pan card lecturing people that adults need to spend more quality "fun" time with children.
When he hired, fired, then re-hired gay pornographer Marc Schaffel to be his personal videographer at Neverland, with full knowledge of his lurid background, he became a dangerous sociopath in my book.
NRO: How long before Kaballah is out of style in your parts? Will Scientology ever be?
Breitbart: I didn't grow up in a particularly religious house, or neighborhood, so I understand skeptics of organized religion. But the same people who mock the story of Jesus, the ones that speak incredulously of the "Virgin birth" or bemoan the Gospels, are the first people to line up outside L. Ron Hubbard's pulp-science-fiction temple or to buy Madonna-endorsed Kaballah-water and her voodoo bracelets. Twenty years ago it was Shirley MacLaine and her myriad lives, all of which were strangely historical leading roles. Astrology will always be a given here. Hollywood will always be a reliable place to study comically trendy belief systems. In a strange way, I find this a good thing.
NRO: In Hollywood Interrupted, there is a behind-the-scenes look at "Anderson Chan's" whorehouse? I trust Ebner covered that?
Breitbart: Hollywood, Interrupted would have been antiseptic and holier than thou without Mark's ability to get into the gutter. I was more than willing to go along for the ride to Anderson Chan's, as an observer. But my wife, for some odd reason, put the kibosh on that idea.
NRO: You guys wrote in HI: "What the Hollywood crowd is now experiencing is the end of a different kind of McCarthy era, one in which they're the ones behaving like the fascists they so volubly claim to despise." Is Hollywood free from tyranny now that Ashcroft's moving out of the Justice Department?
Breitbart: When you control the media, anyone can become the next John Ashcroft. Ask any of them to list their grievance with the man and the best you'll get is "The Patriot Act!" When asked to elaborate you'll get a blank stare. Ten years ago it was Newt Gingrich and the "Contract with America." Boo!
Actor Michael Moriarity left Hollywood for, of all places, Canada when his concerned brethren in the arts ignored Janet Reno's open calls for censorship. The hysteria comes from actors reading Democratic-party talking points like it's a must-read script.
NRO: Is Michael Moorism getting old yet?
Breitbart: Shhh. Of course it is. But please don't tell Hollywood. We want them not to get it.
For all of the whining we do about the Dixie Chicks and Michael Moore, our side is guilty of enjoying the process a bit too much. They make idiotic statements and talk radio and Fox News goes wild. Admit it: Reacting to the celebrities we love to hate is far more entertaining than the movies and TV programs these days. It's the conservative crowd's perpetual reality show: We Hate Hollywood!
NRO: Has Mel Gibson won or lost Hollywood creds?
Breitbart: I suppose I am looking to become a martyr myself: I hated The Passion. I loved it in theory, but I was bored to tears most of the time. But I am glad he taught hubristic Hollywood a lesson and I am glad a lot of ignored people got the film they wanted. And I'm glad they enjoyed it on a deep spiritual level. Mel Gibson now has the independence to do what he wants. And I have the independence to see movies I like. Like Jacka** and Old School. Now that's good cinema.
NRO: Will Ben Affleck wind up running for president? He, sadly, did beat Bob Novak in a tax debate this summer on Crossfire.
Breitbart: I sure hope he runs! And at that moment we can all start looking into his long-term relationship with alternative social historian Howard Zinn. After the success of Good Will Hunting, Affleck and Matt Damon optioned Zinn's A People's History of the United States. It's a great history lesson if you like America constantly denigrated and blamed for every world problem under the sun. In that regard it's a great primer to the criticism America is getting for things half way around the globe, like the south-Asian tsunami tragedy. Affleck and Damon tried to get it turned into a multipart HBO series.
Affleck, who I just saw getting into his ($100k?) Mercedes after running into Starbucks in the pricey Pacific Palisades section of L.A., seems to fancy the political class inhabited by the likes of Dennis Kucinich, to whose cosmically comical presidential campaign Affleck donated money. Bring it on, Ben. Please. We can't wait to hear the socialist ideals of America's most conspicuous consumer 1997-2005.
NRO: Any Oscar predictions?
Breitbart: Chris Rock will make race-based jokes. Unemployed white comedians at home will scream at their TV sets: "How come I can't say that?"
NRO: Will L.A. be in mourning next Thursday?
Breitbart: The crying happens when they try to scrape the Kerry/Edwards bumper stickers from their Priuses.