This week, my wife and I watched two documentaries with related themes. I believe they were still pretty new when she added them to our Netflix queue, which just goes to show how long it’s taking to get through that.
Rated R: Republicans in Hollywood – This documentary, largely filmed during Arnold Schwarzenegger’s gubernatorial campaign, interviews some of the more prominent Republicans in the film industry. Those featured include Drew Carey, Patricia Heaton, Vincent Gallo, Pat Sajak, and Ben Stein, as well as the director of Conan the Barbarian. A lot of them complained that it was difficult to have a minority political view in Hollywood, but the documentary pointed out that this rarely affected their careers. Sure, there are times when it might have, but it’s not like they and other Republicans haven’t managed to achieve success in the industry. For my part, I don’t totally buy the Hollywood liberal elite myth anyway. Even if the majority of actors and directors are mostly left-wing, aren’t a fair number of those on the business end more to the right in their views? Isn’t this typical in pretty much any industry? And contrary to what the Republican talking heads like to say, I’m not sure that major theatrical releases tend to present especially liberal viewpoints. There are far too many pro-violence films and movies about women needing men to be satisfied for me to accept that. That’s not to say that I think Hollywood movies have right-wing messages either, just that it’s common for big-budget films to stick to tried-and-true, formulaic themes and morals rather than anything particularly subversive. Incidentally, I really lost respect for Ben Stein not because he was a conservative, but because he agreed to host an anti-evolution film, in which he apparently even compared Darwin to Hitler. He must have really wanted some of that fundamentalist money.
“For itchy, watery eyes, don’t use anything. The Almighty made them that way for a reason.”
Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism – The theme of this 2004 documentary was that Fox News is not only propagandist and opinionated, but really contains no journalism at all. It’s not like anyone has to make the case against Fox News to me, but they had some good examples of how stories were chosen and altered to make Republicans look good and Democrats bad. There were mentions of how it changed from total attack mode during the Clinton administration to defense of the President in the Bush years, and I’m sure the people who made this point weren’t at all surprised when it came around again once another Democrat was elected. Also addressed was how well organized the right-wing media outlets are, which is why so many of them not only bring up the exact same talking points, but even use the same terms when doing so. I have to say that, even if I hadn’t actually watched enough Fox News to know that the picture painted is quite accurate, I would have to assume that a station using “fair and balanced” as a slogan and with one of its most popular programs being nicknamed “The No Spin Zone” was trying to overcompensate for something. The thing is, it’s not uncommon to see people actually buying into Fox’s self-promotion. Do they REALLY think Fox News is balanced or whatever, or do they just realize that using that line of argument will shut up a liberal out of sheer exasperation? I’ve heard that the “fair and balanced” line is intended to piss off non-conservatives, and I can believe that. I find that I often have the urge to argue with the Fox News devotees, but I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not a good idea. I’m not going to change their minds, and they’re not going to change mine, but it WILL make my head hurt. Mind you, I’m not talking about all conservatives here, but specifically the ones who consider thinking for themselves to be a sure road to Satan’s front door. And speaking of Satan, I found it interesting that someone in the documentary claimed that Rupert Murdoch was political first and foremost, when I’ve heard other places that it’s only the money he really cares about, and he’d be willing to make a left-wing news station if he thought it would be profitable. He certainly doesn’t mind having a significant number of left-leaning shows on the actual Fox network.