Skip to comments.Hollywood, Where Liberal Values Reign -- Except at the Box Office
Posted on 07/09/2014 9:24:49 AM PDT by Kaslin
In the film "Obvious Child," Jenny Slate plays Donna Stern, a stand-up comedian who specializes in making jokes about her private parts, with the occasional foray into fart humor. She is about to go onstage. Her friend offers her some encouragement: "You are going to kill it out there!"
Donna replies: "I actually have an appointment to do that tomorrow."
Donna's talking about her abortion appointment.
Get it? It's funny because it's true. Or if you're like me, you think it's not funny because it's true.
Many critics think it's funny. One dubbed it "far and away the most winning abortion-themed comedy ever made." Of course, as an artistic genre, that's setting the bar pretty low, like serving the best gas station sushi in the state of Oklahoma.
Since it opened last month, the film has grossed less than $2 million. Compare that to 2007's "Juno," a brilliant film widely seen as pro-life (at least among pro-lifers) or "Knocked Up," a raunchier romantic comedy also hailed by abortion foes, both of which grossed more than $140 million domestically. "Obvious Child," then, seems less like the cultural watershed its friends and foes make it to be and more like a barely successful art house flick.
That's worth noting given that the film's writer and director, Gillian Robespierre, was motivated in part because films such as "Juno" and "Knocked Up" "rubbed [her] the wrong way."
Dinesh D'Souza had a similar motivation in making "America: Imagine the World Without Her," a new documentary love letter to his adopted country. He's often described as the right's Michael Moore, but he's aiming higher, hoping to contend one day with Steven Spielberg and Oliver Stone in the feature film business. He tells National Review that "the left knows the power of telling a story." Stone and Spielberg are "much bigger than Michael Moore. They don't make liberal films -- they just make films, and they have a point of view. I want to make films with a different point of view."
D'Souza's absolutely right about Spielberg (though too kind to Stone). One of my biggest complaints about contemporary conservatism -- in and out of politics -- is that it has lost sight of the importance of storytelling.
My late friend Andrew Breitbart liked to say that politics is downstream of culture, meaning that any truly successful political turnaround needs to start by changing popular attitudes. Adam Bellow, a storied editor of conservative books, has a similar conviction and is trying to launch a conservative revolt in the world of fiction.
I wish them great success. Still, I think there's something missing in this ancient conversation on the right (conservatives have been making such arguments since the 1950s -- if not the 1450s, with the publication of the Gutenberg Bible). Conservatives refuse to celebrate, or even notice, how much of the popular culture is on their side.
Sure, Hollywood is generally very liberal, but America isn't. Judging by their campaign donations, Hollywood liberals are very supportive of abortion rights. But there's a reason sitcoms since "Maude" haven't had a lot of storylines about abortion. Indeed, nearly every pregnant TV character treats her unborn child as if it's already a human being.
The left may be anti-military, but such movies tend to do poorly, which is why we see more pro-military films. Similarly, it's a safe bet that Hollywood liberals loathe guns. But you wouldn't know that by what they produce. Not many action stars save the day by quoting a poem. Most Hollywood liberals probably oppose the death penalty, yet they make lots of movies where the bad guy meets a grisly death to the cheers of the audience. The left rolls its eyes at "family values," but family values are at the heart of most successful sitcoms and dramas.
One explanation is that while it is true that culture is upstream from politics, reality and, I would argue, morality are upstream from culture. Good stories must align with reality and a sense of justice. They can be set in space or Middle Earth, but if they don't tap into something real about the human condition, they will fail. As Margaret Thatcher used to say, "The facts of life are conservative."
Confirmation of that, I think, can be found in liberal Hollywood's failure to be as liberal as it wants to be. And that's definitely funny because it's true.
I am sure her name is a complete coincidence...
Adam Baldwin had an interesting comment about Hollywood the other day. He said that Hollywood will trend conservative because the big money behind it notices that conservatism sells.
He encourages to be engaged in the culture war and support conservative themed television and movies.
When Animal Mother speaks, people listen.
I recall after the war in Iraq started Hollywood put out a bunch of anti-military, anti-American war flicks (ie. Rendition) and they all bombed. I remember at the time saying that if someone would just make a classic, Chuck Norris type war flick set in the middle east they would make a ton of money. The movie "Sole Survivor" finally proved me right.
Good article. I had not thought about the not doing abortion story lines. Interesting.
Good one, Jonah.
Abortion just isn’t funny. It works as a subject in a serious film like ‘Vera Drake’ but otherwise...
Yes, that was well done pro-abortion propaganda. A movie, even one presenting as a “comedy,” that shows abortion as the result of mindless, irresponsible fornication is too true to be of use.
Vera Drake was not pro abortion propaganda at all.
I suppose that’s in the perception of the viewer. Some viewers might find “Obvious Child” to be lighthearted fun.
100 year copyrights on ancient film and audio works insulates Hollyweird from being held financially accountable for the current product they are producing.
The bulk of DVDs and CDs on shelves (and movies and tv shows on cable) have long paid off their production costs yet they still bring in big dollars.
I mean, I've heard the bar get set pretty low in the locker room bull sessions ... but not heard it go this low. Pretty bad when a flick crosses lines that 15 year old boys look at and say "ehhhhhh, man, that's not cool".
Surprised that the movie made 2 mil, so far. I suppose that there are koolaid drinkers out there for anything.
Baldwin plays the XO on the new TNT drama “THE LAST SHIP”
Navy is portrayed in a positive light......!
Yeah I’ve been watching. Its a pretty subdued role for Baldwin. So far I’m still unsure about the show but its something to watch on Sunday night before Falling skies.
It’s life of the author plus 75 years I think.
Did you see Vera Drake? It’s not propagandist in the least.
Robespierre is a very apt name for her
We could do a story about bathtub cheese. It will be far and away the most winning bathtub-cheese comedy ever made!
didn’t a lesbian show up in the first ep?
Disney's never going to give up Mickey Mouse. Or sound films.
Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare and Edgar Allen Poe are all public domain. I haven't seen works come along since then that topped their output.
A big part of the problem is that the public face of conservatism is the GOP. Since Reagan, there has not been a conservative political figure on the national scene that has been capable of saying why he believes what he believes. It’s just a grab bag of policy positions: pro life, anti gay “marriage”, pro military, pro business, etc ... You can’t tell a story if you don’t know why you think what you think (and even that’s probably assuming way too much). The “vision thing” is sorely lacking.
It did, but it wasn't obtrusive - a brief mention of a female sailor "seeing Paris with her girlfriend" - and that was it.
It could easily have been a girl that was her friend, as well. Sad that culture dictates we need to read so much into simple statements.
FWIW, I caught the first couple of episodes. Said, "Meh.". It's nothing remarkable. Long on FX, short on plot, dialogue, character development, and about everything else.
A simple statement written by Hollywood which has a real agenda.
Ehat the liberal agenda has driven good men to, saddens me.
It was probably meant to be a lesbian remark in the show.
“What the liberal agenda....” Dunno what an “Ehat” is. :-)
Rambo 4, $18,203,876
Lions for Lambs, $6,702,434
Green Zone, $14,309,295
The unapologetic kick ass Rambo movie beats the star power of the series of anti-Bush, anti-American films.