The Hollywood dream factory is the stuff of nightmares these days.
That’s no reflection on the horror genre, on the rebound thanks to slick indies like “It Follows,” “It Comes at Night” and the highly anticipated “Hereditary.” Nor does it connect to the dwindling number of souls who line up to buy movie tickets these days. That’s a different kind of scary for industry bean counters.
It’s the politics, stupid.
Only it’s not just stupidity. It’s mean. Confrontational. Condescending. Dismissive. Sometimes even hateful. So much of what we hear out of liberal Hollywood these days is invective we wouldn’t expect from anyone in our lives. Friend or foe. Surly neighbor. Alienated uncle or aunt. It’s coming from folks whose very livelihoods depend on us supporting them.
Let that sink in a minute.
We indirectly pay their bills, and they can’t stop insulting large swaths of us.
The current rage is politically driven, no doubt. Donald Trump’s ascent shattered something in many stars, but we can’t place the blame solely on the unconventional leader. Celebrities need to take a good, long look in the mirror. Will they like what they’ll see?
Turning to the Dark Side
The latest liberal Hollywood attack came from an unlikely source: J.J. Abrams. The man who successfully brought “Star Wars” back to life via 2015’s “The Force Awakens” will shoot the ninth film in the saga. Chapter eight, “The Last Jedi,” crushed the box office, as expected. Only the numbers weren’t quite as dizzying as some predicted.
Many “Star Wars” fans found plenty to complain about with the film. A tiny minority pinned the blame on too many strong female characters.
Others rightly noted the woke turn in the saga and serious storytelling flaws.
In a sane world Abrams might process that feedback and see what he might do differently. Or, he’d process the comments and feel the franchise remains on the right path.
Both are sober choices for an artist.
Abrams took a third path during an interview with IndieWire.com. Asked about the blowback tied to “Jedi’s” woke status he pounded critics in a way his Hollywood predecessors never would.
“Their problem isn’t ‘Star Wars,’ their problem is being threatened.”
“‘Star Wars’ is a big galaxy, and you can sort of find almost anything you want to in ‘Star Wars,’” he said. “If you are someone who feels threatened by women and needs to lash out against them, you can probably find an enemy in ‘Star Wars.’ You can probably look at the first movie that George [Lucas] did [‘Star Wars: A New Hope’] and say that Leia was too outspoken, or she was too tough. Anyone who wants to find a problem with anything can find the problem. The internet seems to be made for that.”
Was there a single soul over the past 40 years who complained about Princess Leia being too mouthy?
Let’s be fair to Abrams. He might have been addressing a small sub-set of fans. Still, what director does that in the first place? He must know how toxic quotes spread on social media. Insulting folks who might see your product is Bad Marketing 101.
He wasn’t alone, though.
Sony head Tom Rothman fired off the following pithy comment prior to the 2016 release of “Ghostbusters.” The comedy reboot replaced the four male leads with four female stars, which sparked an ugly, unnecessary culture war. Some hardcore fans sensed a politically correct update that would besmirch memories of the first film. Others were probably on the fence until they saw the film’s terrible trailer.
See for yourself:
Rothman’s take on the imbroglio?
“Everybody says we’re making the female Ghostbusters, but I say, ‘No, we’re making the funny Ghostbusters.’ Yes, it happens to be four women,” Rothman said.
So far, so good. He wasn’t done, though.
“It’s original. You get pissing and moaning on the Internet — sexist comments – but, you know, f— ’em,” he said.
Actually, the audience “f—ed” Sony.
The film underwhelmed at the box office, killing a potentially massive franchise. Press reports said the film cost the company north of $70 million.
Abrams and Rothman’s comments proved snarky, condescending and unproductive. They were veritable bouquets compared to what we’ve witnessed over the past 12-plus months.
Love Doesn’t Trump Hate in Liberal Hollywood
Candidate Donald Trump was dubbed Hitler by a gaggle of famous faces, including Sarah Silverman, Tom Green and Louis C.K. Trump’s Election Day victory only poured gasoline on the incendiary rhetoric.
Oscar nominee Michael Shannon targeted Trump voters following the mogul’s shocking victory. Shannon told an interviewer the nation may require a second civil war to right the electoral wrong.
There’s a lot of old people who need to realize they’ve had a nice life, and it’s time for them to move on. Because they’re the ones who go out and vote for these a**holes. If you look at the young people, between 18 and 25, if it was up to them Hillary would have been president. No offense to the seniors out there. My mom’s a senior citizen. But if you’re voting for Trump, it’s time for the urn. (emphasis added).
The Metro interviewer, working hard to be both fair and balanced, confessed his parents voted for Trump “and I’m still not sure how to talk to them about that.”
Shannon had the answer.
F— ’em. You’re an orphan now. Don’t go home. Don’t go home for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Don’t talk to them at all. Silence speaks volumes.
Far-left comic Amy Schumer managed to one-up Shannon. She called Trump voters “weak, clueless KKK members” via her Instagram account shortly after Election Day.
That was then, when the emotions from Trump’s improbably victory were still raw. So what explains this recent Tweet from comedian/”Big Sick” star Kumail Nanjiani?
F*** Trump. F*** John Kelly. F*** Mike Pence. F*** Omarosa. F*** Paul Ryan. F*** Mitch McConnell. F*** Steve Bannon. F*** Betsy DeVos. F*** Sarah Huckabee Sanders. F*** Trey Gowdy. F*** Devin Nunes. F*** Carter Page. F*** Rob Porter. F*** Sean Spicer. F*** Hope Hicks. F*** Jared.
The comedian eventually took the Tweet down, not before several sites shared its content.
Joss Whedon’s hate demands a separate article to capture it all. Suffice to say the “Avengers” director predicted President Trump would round up and execute gay people and mocked the appearance of teen cancer survivors in a lame attempt to attacked Congressman Paul Ryan.
Comedian Michael Ian Black tweets “the NRA is a terrorist organization so often he probably uses a social media scheduler to keep the message fresh.
I’ll just keep saying it: The NRA is a terrorist organization.
— Michael Ian Black (@michaelianblack) November 5, 2017
He’s hardly the only sole in liberal Hollywood echoing those thoughts.
Michael Keaton, Sally Field and other stars share similar venom following any shooting tragedy. They never wait for facts to roll in or if a new gun law would have prevented the deaths. They likely didn’t read the Washington Post fact check confirming new gun laws wouldn’t have prevented the high-profile shootings that have plagued our culture in recent years.
“Say Anything” star John Cusack doubled down via Twitter:
I hope every one rembers right now -- only issues that matter are defeating GOP death cult at ballots -- & removing a treasonous -- criminaly deranged serial sexual assaulting Nazi pimp nra blood whore from office before he can do more damage -- everything else is just noise
— John Cusack (@johncusack) February 19, 2018
Veteran actor Michael Rapaport (“Justified,” “Beautiful Girls”) tore into conservative pundit Laura Ingraham recently after the talker mixed it up with basketball great Lebron James. She told the Cavaliers All-Star to “shut up and dribble,” riffing on her 2003 book, “Shut Up and Sing.”
Rapaport’s response, shared on social media for all to see?
“No cluckhead, you shut up and dribble… deez nuts, b—h. You mayonnaise-eating, melba toast no seasoning on your chicken cracker. Your butt is so flat that when you stand up you could see your entire a—le. I’m sorry ladies, I warned you at the top.”
“Your lord and savior Donald Trump wouldn’t even grab you by the pussy. If he did he’d probably get his fingers caught in a mousetrap,” he continued. “You went to college, Laura, and you’re proud of that, and what do you got to show for it? A mouth full of fake teeth, a face full of Botox and some dry-ass hair extensions. And you still never got f—ed right, you little jumpoff.”
Liberal Hollywood Hate Cuts Across Genders
We all know what happened to comedian Kathy Griffin when she posed with President Trump’s severed head. Her career effectively ended, and every time she attempts to revive it she only buries it deeper.
CULTURAL CONTEXT: A rodeo clown suffered nationwide embarrassment and the loss of his clowing career after depicting President Obama in a clumsy sketch. Country rocker Hank Williams, Jr. lost his “Monday Night Football” gig for six years after comparing Obama to Hitler.
During the recent dustup over the spending bill the legendary Bette Midler used Twitter to send out the following message: “Where’s Rand Paul’s neighbor when we need him?” Sen. Paul was severely injured last year following an attack by a neighbor. Here’s the senator describing the scope of his injuries.
“It was sort of, I guess, a living hell for the first four or five weeks. Couldn’t get out of bed without assistance, six broken ribs, damage to my lungs, two bouts of pneumonia. It was really a tough go of it.”
Samantha Bee, beloved by the press corps, kicked off her “Full Frontal” TBS show by calling Sen. Ted Cruz a “fish-faced horses*** salesman.”
Madonna spoke at the 2017 Women’s March, an event tied to resisting President Trump, and told the crowd this chilling anecdote:
“I have thought an awful lot about blowing up the White House.”
Just days ago, “Grey’s Anatomy” star Ellen Pompeo took exception to conservative Fox News host Laura Ingraham criticizing Lebron James for his poorly worded attack on President Trump. Pompeo threatened to physically attack Ingraham for disagreeing with a basketball star’s policy stance.
“Someone tell this bitch to meet me outside… Im so not in the mood for playing nice or polite this week,” she Tweeted.
Chelsea Handler, who “left” her Netflix series to pursue activism full time, has called for a military coup against President Trump. She even suggested people who tell racist jokes should be jailed despite a history of racially charged humor.
Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence is currently trying to bury her partisan political past. She once predicted Trump’s election would be “the end of the world.” Now, she’s supporting a movement, dubbed Unrig the System, attempting to root out D.C. corruption. Yet she recently vowed to throw a martini in President Trump’s face if they ever met face to face.
“Oh, my God I’ve been waiting for this moment,” she said.
That’s not as coarse as what living legend Robert De Niro keeps threatening. On more than one occasion Mr. “Raging Bull” said he’d punch President Trump in the face.
Comedian Paul F. Tompkins hoped a U.S. senator would swallow batteries because he disagreed with his stance on gun control. Twitter suspended him for a day.
I sincerely hope my polite request of Sen Marco Rubio to swallow 10 D batteries was reported to the FBI. https://t.co/QmXLVPtzf4
— Paul F. Tompkins (@PFTompkins) February 15, 2018
Troubled superstar Johnny Depp wondered if it was time for another actor to take out a president, connecting Trump to President Abraham Lincoln’s assailant. He later apologized for the “joke.”
Actor Ron Perlman rages against all things Trump on a daily, if not hourly, basis via his Twitter account. Some low points? He started a virtual War on GOP women a few weeks back, hurling hate at First Lady Melania Trump, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley.
Late night comics Stephen Colbert and James Corden of “The Late, Late Show” fame also teamed up against Haley. Why? She dared to criticize the Grammys for including snippets from “Fire and Fury.”
The author of the factually challenged book alleged Haley was sleeping with President Trump. Yet the comics mocked her for objecting to the Grammy bit all the same.
Colbert, when he’s not unfairly attacking Haley, rails against Trump nearly every occasion he gets. He went a bit too far even for some supporters last year when he called the president’s mouth “Putin’s c*** holster.”
Colbert comes off as a sophisticate compared to Jimmy Kimmel. The “Jimmy Kimmel Live” host and Oscar emcee alternately savages the GOP and spits out Democrat talking points. The latter is his prerogative. The former? It’s the by-now standard GOP and NRA has blood on its hands decrees. He even called Rep. Ryan soulless.
A newer trend in liberal Hollywood is stars begging for Trump voters to avoid their product entirely. Eminem, Kimmel and the host of “Late Night with Seth Meyers” all said if you support Trump they don’t want you in their fan base.
‘Live from New York … You’re a Racist!’
Last but not least is “Saturday Night Live.” The show has a field day mocking President Trump, a leader who gives material to satirists ’round the clock. That’s only natural, even if the show’s entrenched bias shows every time they ignore an outrageous liberal pratfall.
The iconic show takes it a few steps further. The NBC comedy has called both Trump and his supporters racist.
The show also stood by and let host Aziz Ansari echo similar thoughts,.
We haven’t even mentioned the Harvey Weinstein scandal and how many Hollywood players knew something, if not more, about Weinstein’s alleged assaults on countless starlets.
They said nothing … for decades. Let that sink in, too.
Let’s not forget how Hollywood is overwhelmingly white and male while its stars simultaneously beat the diversity drum.
Is this a picture of a decent industry?
The Other Side of Hollywood
Now, there are plenty of people working in and around Hollywood who are likely decent to the core. We just don’t hear them because they quietly go about their work and lives.
Some A-list stars are also as kind as possible in their public appearances. Think Chris Pratt. The “Jurassic World” star is funny, uplifting and positive in his social media endeavors. He also dressed up as his Starlord character, along with Captain America himself, Chris Evans, to cheer up sick children three years ago.
Superstar Dwayne Johnson is polite and encouraging to others on his Twitter, too. It’s a mirror image of his on-screen persona, and it feels authentic. And, yes, often funny.
Perfect White House portrait.
Lincoln.. Roosevelt.. Johnson: the fanny pack administration 🇺🇸 https://t.co/dfeRz7kbl7
— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) February 19, 2018
Stars occasionally rise to the occasion to right a serious wrong. Celebrities rallied last year on Houston’s behalf following the devastation wrought by Hurricane Harvey. Many stars give, and give, to various charities without calling a press conference.
All these acts are noble and good. And they’re getting serially eclipsed by behavior that’s anything but decent. That’s the nature of journalism.
If it bleeds, it leads. We’re watching all the same. And taking mental notes.
For many consumers, celebrity culture in the Age of Trump is ugly to the core. Is that the image liberal Hollywood really wants to project?