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Why 'Liberal Hollywood' Is a Myth

Hollywood has a reputation for being a bastion for liberalism in America. It hasn't totally earned it.

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Both the Post and Big Hollywood were working under the assumption that Ratner got the boot after the gay slur, but it was after his ugly Howard Stern interview came out. The LA Times has a salient rebuttal to the conservatives pulling the hypocrisy card, and it’s one that illuminates just how right-wing Hollywood actually is:

If the gay PC police really have so much sway, then why did Universal Pictures, who took all sorts of heat earlier this year from gay activists complaining about a gay electric car joke in "The Dilemma," end up keeping the joke in the movie? (A movie, by the way, produced by Brian Grazer, who's taking Ratner's place as Oscar producer).

A great point. But what about other right-wing leanings in the oh-so-utopian liberal mecca? Union-busting, for one, and all the tactics that lead up to it. The most prominent and well-known fight in recent memory is the writer’s strike of 2007 and 2008, during which the Writer’s Guild of America sought a better deal for writers on film and television shows that were more proportionate to the dollars the corporate production studios were raking in. They reached an agreement in 2008—but in Hollywood, other union battles rage on to this day.

Last year, 50 workers from the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees—which represents camera operators, stage hands, costume designers and the like—staged a strike against NBC’s “The Biggest Loser,” seeking basic pension and health benefits. (There’s a reason reality shows are viewed as the ultimate union-busters in show business.) And It’s important to remember that Hollywood is not this amorphous glob of fancy liberal actors and directors. Obviously we tend to focus on celebrities because that’s who’s thrust in our faces, but for every movie star, there are 100 laborers behind the scenes making the magic happen. And like practically every other large industry in America, Hollywood is made up of giant corporations. Corporations tend to be unfriendly towards worker’s unions (in case you haven’t heard.)

But unions (and union-busting) are part of Hollywood’s legacy -- for proof, here’s an amazing piece from a 1938 issue of the  Nation titled “Hollywood is a Union Town.” Another part of its legacy, which further disproves it as a bastion of progress: The casting couch. Or, in today’s terms, the level of sexual harassment (or sexual favors) smarmy directors deemed necessary for starlets to deal with before landing that career-making role. Hollywood's past is rife with tales of young women being coerced into stripping nude, or worse, for agents before being given a chance—but that was in the past before women’s lib, right? One would hope so, yet rumors of the Cain ilk continually leak out of Hollywood.

Megan Fox—an actress who’s better known for her preternatural beauty than for her sharp wit and daring personality (seriously, read any interview with her)—did not star as the female lead in Transformers 3 despite having helped catapulted the first two in the franchise to the top of the box office. The reported reason? She got sick of Michael Bay’s well-documented verbal abuse towards female actors, and quit the film. A source told online industry rag The Wrap that the powerful director “wants his actresses to look a certain way, and if they can't meet his absurd standards of beauty, he gets rid of them.” For Fox’s initial, lurid audition for Bay, he made her hand-wash his Ferrari while taping her. A casting couch for a new era.

And if you’re an actor of color, if your chances of being cast in a major film seem like they have been decreasing over the past 80 years, you’re right: at this year’s Oscars, there was less diversity in the Best Picture Nominees than in those nominated in 1940. Two decades before the Civil Rights movement! No one still thinks we’re “post-racial,” right? That fact underscores something film veteran/civil rights activist Harry Belafonte said at an NAACP conference earlier this year: “Hollywood will never yield to the needs of people of color.” (He said it in the context of encouraging POCs to start separate production companies, Tyler Perry style.) At the very least, can Hollywood cast a Mexican person in a role that isn’t a cholo or a maid? Etc.