Monday, August 08, 2005

Talking turkey with Texans

As amazing at it might seem, I am not typically one to fire off a letter to someone about a column they have written. Whether the writer is fan or foe, I'm usually content to let the author's opinion speak for itself.

But occasionally, I'll read a column that is so out-there that my opinion of it bursts out like an alien from Sigourney Weaver's stomach. Usually this happens the 55th time I read yet another conservative cliche.

The piece in question is entitled, "More reasons to distrust Hollywood" and I originally found it here. It was written by Tyler Nelson for the August 4 issue of The University of Houston Daily Cougar. Immediately after reading it, I tracked down Nelson's e-mail address and sent him a cordial rebuttal. Excerpts from both his column and my reply follow:

A new book, 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America, by Bernard Goldberg, confirms my observations. (I'll spoil the end, the world's ambassador Michael Moore surprisingly was No. 1). A good percentage of the individuals in Goldberg's book are celebrities who live in Hollywood. That part didn't amaze me. What did amaze me was what a lot of the celebrities said. Most of their political commentary and advice contained a lot of four-letter words that I can't write in The Daily Cougar.

For example, look at Janeane Garofalo. She has starred in several movies and is a regular commentator for the dismal Air America network and several other liberal cable shows. She so cleverly stated, "Our country is founded on a sham: Our forefathers were slave-owning rich white guys who wanted it their way. So when I see the American flag, I go, 'Oh my God, you're insulting me.' That you can have a gay parade on Christopher Street in New York, with naked men and women on a float cheering, 'We're here, we're queer!' -- that's what makes my heart swell. Not the flag, but a gay naked man or woman burning the flag. I get choked up with pride."

The book you a selective compilation of extreme personalities designed to lead the reader into thinking that everyone who makes movies or lives in southern California feels this way.

But like with any other place or profession, Hollywood (and, by extension, show business) is packed with people of wildly diverging views. If you need any proof, consider that the same conservatives who lambaste Janeane Garofalo or Barbra Streisand for offering their political views are the same ones who praise Charlie Daniels and Charlton Heston for doing the same. That's a lot of ideological room.

Wow, that right there tells me why Hollywood is hurting the left. Americans hear things like that and want nothing to do with these celebrities; their values are nothing alike. But when they have a political mouthpiece like Howard Dean running around saying things just as ridiculous, it doesn't look good for any politician who aligns with Hollywood.

If celebrities voice views you don't like, then vote with your dollars and don't attend their movies or watch their shows. They have free speech rights as much as you and I, and chances are their views are not any more extreme than thousands of others who share the same views, but without the soapbox. Even so, they never claim to represent anyone but themselves. In most cases, it is books such as Bernard Goldberg's that do far more to advance these messages than any of their own promotional efforts.

To me it doesn't really matter what some celebrity thinks or says about President Bush or the war on terror. They look stupid talking about issues they clearly have no idea ab[o]ut. What bothers me is that these celebrities get so much air time to ramble on about their political views, not because any of them have advanced political science degrees but because they have a pretty face or are the new big thing in the entertainment industry.

You also chide celebrities for talking about politics even though they don't "have advanced political science degrees." By logical extension, does this mean that no one without an advanced poli-sci degree can discuss politics? That leaves out a lot of people, including most political commentators. And, for that matter, most of the Bush administration and Congress. And, as far as I can tell, Bernard Goldberg. But those that do have the credentials are obviously limited to talking only about politics, right? Maybe the idea does have merit; I wouldn't mind not having to hear Bush talk about war as if he has a clue about combat.

If the Democrats are smart, they won't touch any Hollywood celebrities with a ten-foot pole during the 2008 presidential election, especially after the outcry over moral values in 2004. As Hollywood has consistently proven, celebrities don't know a thing about the moral values of most Americans.

The book, and your column, are not about helping the left as you both claim. It's no secret that the right is not interested in helping the left. Indeed, pretending that you do care is the height of condescension. Still, I always enjoy reading the latest conservative op-eds. Unlike Goldberg, I would never dream of silencing those with whom I disagree. Neither should you promote such a flawed premise.

--Ian McGibboney

And yes, I did link him here.


The Humanity Critic said...

Amen brother, well said.

Ruben said...

Impressive post. You have a way with words Ian.

PusBoy said...

Ian, since you don't have an advanced degree in blogging, you may not post this here. I hereby demand you close your blog and go hide under the covers.

Ian McGibboney said...

For what it's worth, here's Tyler's response:


Thanks for your opinion on my article. I always enjoy hearing constructive criticism from someone who has a different opinion than my own. If you havent read the book I mentioned, I would invite you to do so. Although I dont agree with you , I appreciate the time you took to email me.


Michael said...

You should'a hit him with Fred Thompson, Ian. If Hollywood is so freakin' toxic, perhaps Tyler would care to explain why G. Dumbya went and got him a Hollywood star to shepherd John Roberts' confirmation through the Senate.

Philip said...

Bias works can work in subtle ways. The worst is when you are more critical of the other side, and you let your side get a free pass just because, "well, in the end, they're pursuing our goals, so it's okay if they're a little aggressive." I read that from your comment about how conservatives will be happy with Charlton Heston's political comments because he supports their side.

Anyways, I read the book and made an annotated synopsis of 100 people who are screwing up america here. enjoy, I had fun compiling it.

Ian McGibboney said...

Philip, the Charlton Heston comment is about hypocrisy, not who I think holds higher ground. I'm tired of the right constantly trashing Hollywood liberals while letting off right-leaning celebrities as though they aren't also a part of the Hollywood system.

More than once I've gotten pairs of e-mails from righty friends: the first detailing some outrageous liberal comment as an example of why Hollywood stars need to shut up and the second saying "God Bless Charlie Daniels" and offering his commentary. The irony is lost on them, apparently.

As for your synopsis, Philip, good work. You have saved me from having to spend money on such a wretched book or letting a librarian see it in my hands. I hope your synopsis will be seen by so many others who might otherwise buy the book.