The Republican War on Hollywood

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This week, the Los Angeles Times ran a dismissive hit piece against Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan. Ryan, it turns out, stood against subsidies for Hollywood while serving in Congress by fighting, in 2007, against a Centers for Disease Control initiative designed to ladle health information into shows including Sesame Street and Grey’s Anatomy. The CDC had already shelled out big bucks to support the Hollywood Health & Society, a subsidiary of the Norman Lear Center at USC. The CDC was handing over nearly $200,000 in taxpayer cash to the program.

Ryan tried to slash the entire program from the CDC budget. He said it was “clearly an expense that should have been covered by the successful, for-profit television shows, not by our hard-earned tax dollars.”

Ryan, of course, was absolutely right. Hollywood is wealthy beyond belief, an industry that rakes in billions per year. Shows like Sesame Street and Grey’s Anatomy don’t need taxpayer subsidies any more than Kobe Bryant does.

But Ryan’s response was also indicative of a general coolness between the Republican Party and Hollywood. Republicans tend to oppose tax credits for Hollywood, even while they support tax credits for other industries. There’s a reason for that: Hollywood is a propaganda machine for the left. Why would the GOP support an industry that churns out pro-Obama agitprop like Zero Dark Thirty, the story of the Osama Bin Laden killing designed to hit the advertising market just before the election? Why would Republicans want to back an industry that seeks to paint conservatives as redneck rubes who might go psycho at any moment and slaughter entire families?

They wouldn’t. But a long time ago, they did.

Back in the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, and early 1960s, even Republicans were fans of Hollywood. Republicans thought that Hollywood was a uniquely American industry, and that production of film and television would do the country significant good on the world stage. Promoting film and TV with tax cuts was a signal goal of both parties.

All that changed over the course of the 1960s. While in the 1930s through the 1950s, the executives in charge of the movie and television industry were businessmen first – old schmatta salesmen like General Sarnoff and Leonard Goldberg – the new executives of the 1960s, the folks you see on Mad Men, were affected by the leftist ideas of that era. They let their creative juices flow. And often, that meant that their TV shows pushed the line, targeting traditional values. By the end of the 1960s, American television and movies were undergoing a sea change – so much so that during the 1968 election, they went all out for the anti-Nixon agenda.

Nixon responded by attacking Hollywood. In 1971, Nixon threatened to break apart the three major networks of the time (NBC, ABC, CBS). “If the threat of screwing them is going to help us more with their programming than doing it,” he said, “then keep the threat. As far as screwing them is concerned, I’m very glad to do it.” And no wonder. Television’s treatment of Nixon was brutal.

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  • John Stone

    Shapiro is a good author, but I think what he is doing here is just writing a little piece so he can get a plug in for his book. I looked his books up over at Amazon and it would seem that several have merit.

    The biggest problem we have is not the Republican-Democrat divide. What both parties do, mainly, is feed constituencies. What is really damaging is that we are destroying a culture that worked and replaced it with a collection of ideas suitable for a utopia but no real world social system. That is why Islam makes such easy headway and why we would elect someone who is as much an outsider to our society as Obama is. These alien invaders are not powerful diseases so much as opportunistic infections taking advantage of a host that is self destructing even without their assistance.

  • EthanP

    Ben; There is, alas, no there there. The Moguls who control "Tinseltown" are so far in the tank for the left that there is no middle ground. Movies and TV are filled with left wing propaganda and have been for a long time.
    Look for a positive portrayal of a gun owner, pro lifer, or Jew. Few and far between. And yes, I am aware that a majority of the media moguls are/were Jews. But they are leftists first. And most leftists are anti-semites.

    • SKIP

      And ALL of them espouse the pairing of white female/black male which I don't much care for.

    • jason taylor

      Positive potrayals of Jews; NCIS(female detective and former spy), Covert Affairs(Swashbuckling Mossad Agent and occasional friend/lover of the heroine).

      Gun owner: Almost every cop show.

  • tagalog

    In old Hollywood, the movie makers made a distinction between businesspeople who acted responsibly and businesspeople who were motivated by greed and sharp dealing (see, for example, It's A Wonderful Life or Valley of Decision). In modern Hollywood, the portrayal of businesspeople necessarily involves greed and sharp dealing, which for Hollywood are the prime qualities of people who engage in business.

  • Asher

    Hollywood is falling..they have already proved they can't make good movies anymore..(ones that are decent, inspiring to families, or just good entertainment without bad language, violence, and destructive ideas.) People pay to see movies that are inspiring and historical….The Left has done all the wrong things to achieve success!

    • mlcblog

      Acc, to Evan Sayet 6 out of 10 of their anti-American anti-family movies bombed at the box office!!! yay.


        The public determines success.

        The public rejects the crap "Hollywood" produces today. Eventually the producers of crap will lose all credibility and they will find no one to pay to produce their crap.

        • Roger

          And hopefully there will be no more NY Times to mourn their passing.

    • Questions

      Baloney. I doubt you'v even bothered to see any movies recently. I see a new one a week. Ben Shapiro is a professional panic-peddler; he imagines a war waged by Hollywood against the GOP so he can wage a real one in retaliation.


        Question Socialism,

        Obama is on the way out.

        Socialist Hollywood has started making movies to slam President Romney.

  • jemaasjr

    Maybe someday in the future the Republicans can warm up to Hollywood, but for now they are an enemy and might just as well be treated as such. Also, if we are going to be real about it, most of Hollywood either has enough talent or enough name recognition that they can not easily be replaced just because some of us do not like their politics. For that reason my preference is to focus on our oh-so leftist news media. There are a few big name talents, but most of the news is put on by talented but not exceptional individuals. Because the colleges that churn out journalists are all lefty, they produce a left leaning culture in journalism.

    What it amounts to is that the liberalism that dominates the news media is much more vulnerable to change than Hollywood because the talent is frequently interchangeable and the institutional framework that produces it is weak. It really hinges on the assumption that if you want a journalist you hire somebody from a college program.

    If I were a person of wealth and was also willing to put some money into effecting the cultural framework, I would develop schemes for how to produce a more right leaning journalist class. The key to changing things is to get people who actually believe in what they are doing. Just getting a corporate owner who wants more neutral coverage will, in general, produce a boring program because the talent will not have their hearts in what they are doing.

  • Iratus Vulgas

    Hey, I've got an idea, Hollywood. Just make good movies with compelling stories. Any genre will do. That, and stop electing people that do harm to your business. Show business is still a business–subject to the same economic principles that Bain Capital must abide.

    • Questions

      The film industry has been doing that, in case you haven't been noticing. Unfortunately, "compelling" in the eyes of people like yourself is a nice way of saying agitprop from the Right. Sorry if "The Amazing Spider-Man" wasn't conservative enough.

    • Iratus Vulgas

      The Amazing Kreskin seems to have an inside perspective on the cinematic tastes of conservatives in general and myself in particular. This sort of one-dimensional prejudice against conservatives is such a tired old saw that it's tedious to address. Just suffice it to say that I have a fairly solid understanding of the ingredients that make for a compelling story. While I can't speak for other conservatives, I think we can agree that "with great storytelling comes great responsibility." Shakespeare, if I'm not mistaken.

  • amused

    They do , that's why they make billions. Many are in fact ..woooo 1%ers , but ones who disagree with your politics . Gee how anti-American of them ! And they always have made good movies . Obviously ones that YOU do not like …but then again nether YOU nor the Republicans NOR Democrats are the BOX OFFICE .

    • tagalog

      The fun thing with the Hollywood types is that they SAY they disagree with right-wing ideas, but then they run their businesses like old-time Robber Barons of the pre-regulation era of big business.

  • Agee3 Smythe

    movies are no longer made in America anymore. They now go to Canada. We no longer go to the movies
    The same is said about Made in China. Instead of putting Americans to work, Hollywood goes somewhre else
    to shoot their films. I won't allow my great grandchildren to go to movies either.

  • Ghostwriter

    I disagree with those who say that Hollywood can't make great movies. They're certainly capable of it. Sadly,they don't really want to make them for Americans,they make them for others or themselves,not for this country. And since they treat much of the country like trash simply because they don't share the same political views they do,Hollywood's been the biggest contributor to it's own problems.

  • mlcblog

    I like your optimism, Mr. Shapiro. Perhaps if conservatives make their way back into Hollywood, we'll have something going here.

  • distantsmoke

    Conservatives should pick a sweeps week and turn off their TVs. Or even pick one day during a sweeps week and turn off our TVs. I am certain that Hollywood has no idea how much money they would lose if conservatives turned off their TVs for good (something I am very close to). A one day boycott might wake them up. I frankly think they don't believe there are really more than 4 or 5 of us roaming the country. So they just keep leaning more and more left. And the more left they lean, the harder it is to hear our voices.

  • ross1948

    It’s not just patriotic Americans who loathe Hollywood’s subversive celebrities. Brits too detest them!

    These people will NOT change. If they were a small minority of Tinseltown’s in-crowd, okay, but that is not the case. They are the large majority, and the movie companies have given them immense scope, the only logical reason being that those in charge are in sympathy with the anti-democratic (or pro-Democratic!) agenda.

    Ben often writes good sense, but here he’s just ‘makan angin,’ ‘eating the breeze,’ as Malaysians would say, talking to pass the time.

  • Marc

    Hollyweird is pitiful .

    They project and promote whatever the popular Hollyweird opinions are and regurgitate them as their own "great wisdom" .They give interviews on how to save the world while they their lives are like bad comedies of alcoholism ,drugs,greed,random sex,child abuse,jealousy ,shallow pretentiousness and narcissism .They buy and sell sex,children and addictions to get attention .

    Everything they do,say and support revolves around themselves,careers and images.They really believe being in front of a camera gives them superior knowledge and a right to voice their opinions.

    • Marc

      Not only are they the 1%,they avoid taxes ,outsource trillions of $ in employment and promote criminal activity.They act like law abiding,hard working Americans are ignorant fools.They will mouth platitudes about the poor,equality ,fair share and communist heroes while building $30 billion homes ,hide their incomes offshore and won't tip a waiter.

      Sesame Street,Spiderman ,Harry Potter etc make trillions in video sales and merchandising but they will leech hard earned $ from poor tax paying citizens to promote their political ideologies ,sex,violence ,religion and racism to children .

      More and more parents are boycotting Hollyweird propaganda ,forced liberal agendas ,endless greed and moral decay.They represent nothing resembling American freedoms,ideals or patriotism now.

  • burple

    Watching a hollywood movie is like paying for a $500 female hooker and getting a scabby $30 transvestite who preaches islam while working and then charges you taxes .

    • tagalog

      While passing on to you the STD they suffer from.

  • Tanstaafl jw

    I understand that they're releasing "Atlas Shrugged: Part II".

  • BS77

    Delta Force… would be SOOOOOOOOOOO un-PC if it were released today.

  • BS77

    Wanted Dead or Alive with Rutger Hauer…..wiping out terrorists…… UN PC today!!!!!

  • Questions

    In 2011, here were some of the best films, mainly domestic, some foreign:

    "War Horse"
    "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy"
    "The Iron Lady"
    "The Adventures of Tin Tin"
    "The Artist"
    "The Lincoln Lawyer"
    "The Conspirator"
    "Source Code"
    "Jane Eyre"
    "Midnight in Paris"
    "The Tree of Life"
    "Super 8"
    "X-Men: First Class"
    "The Debt"
    "The Descendants"
    "Killer Elite"
    "A Dangerous Method"
    "The Ides of March"

    How exactly do these films qualify as "assaults" on the American people or conservatives in particular? Or perhaps the problem is that Ben, as usual, is recycling a meme without knowing, or caring, what he's talking about.