Monday, 16 September 2013

Hollywood Hypocrisy

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Hypocrisy has long been an effective weapon for the Left in its political fight against conservatives. The national liberal media has delighted in taking down a few notches conservative pundits such as Dr. Laura Schlessinger (who promoted traditional values on her radio show but posed nude for photos in her youth), Rush Limbaugh (who condemned drug addicts and traffickers on his radio show but became addicted to prescription painkillers and procured them illegally), and Bill Bennett (who wrote books promoting a wide range of virtues and criticized the moral failings of Bill Clinton but was himself a heavy gambler). All three of those individuals suffered personal embarrassment when those indiscretions came to light. They ended up taking responsibility for their actions, acknowledged their shortcomings, and were contrite.

Conservatives understand that hypocrisy is part of the human condition, due to the fact that human nature is flawed. As a result, conservatives believe in a constitutionally limited government constrained by a system of checks and balances because, as English historian John Acton explained, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Furthermore, just because some conservatives stumble and fall while defending high standards of virtue and morality does not mean that those standards are invalidated and need not be followed by the rest of society.

There has been lots of talk about conservative hypocrisy in the national liberal media but, perhaps not surprisingly, there has been a reluctance to cover liberal hypocrisy in the same manner. After all, the liberals in the media, and there are lots of them, do not want to give ammunition to their political adversaries. Liberals, who often refer to themselves as “progressives,” like to project an image of moral superiority when it comes to such issues as social justice, economic inequality, and fairness. They are convinced of their altruism, their noble intentions, and the selfish motives of their political opponents. Consequently, liberals support a plethora of so-called progressive policies, such as affirmative action, that give preferences to minorities in everything from college admissions to job hiring; the graduated income tax that takes disproportionately more from those who earn more; and greater government regulation of the private sector. Such policies are not promoted for just practical reasons but also because they are considered to be right and just. For example, raising taxes on the wealthier members of society is done not just to balance the government’s budget but also to correct a perceived social injustice. Liberals contend that it is not enough to encourage the rich to give to the poor; the rich must be compelled to do so through progressive taxation and income redistribution because liberals deem it unfair that some people have more than they need while others are living in poverty.

That raises an interesting question: Do the people who espouse such progressive ideas apply those same values to their own lives? It turns out that all too many of them do not practice what they preach. And some of the biggest offenders are the  “limousine liberals” of Hollywood. Let us take a good look at some of the most egregious examples.

Michael Moore

Very few people had ever heard of Michael Moore before the release of his first documentary film, Roger and Me, in 1989. The film records Moore’s sometimes comic quest to meet with General Motors Chairman Roger Smith and try to convince Smith to visit Flint, Michigan, and see how the layoffs of tens of thousands of GM workers was affecting the city. But for a brief confrontation with Smith in a crowded lobby, Moore failed to achieve his goal, although he did realize fame and fortune from the film itself.

Much of the reason for Moore’s success is the reputation that he has cultivated, namely, that he is the son of a working-class autoworker from the Rust Belt factory town of Flint. He dresses the part, sporting an unkempt wardrobe of baggy pants, scruffy shoes, and the ever-present baseball cap, along with a scraggly beard. In reality, Moore did not live in blue-collar Flint, which happened to be predominantly black, but rather, not far away in the white, middle-class town of Davison. His father was not exactly one of the struggling proletariat. In fact, Moore’s father could afford to put all four of his children through parochial school, play golf every day at a private club, and retire at the age of 53.

Moore continued to claim that Flint was his hometown long after he left the area following the success of Roger and Me. For example, following the 2003 Oscars, he reported in the Los Angeles Times that he was returning “home to Flint.” His Michigan home actually sits on 10 acres, with 281 feet of waterfront on Torch Lake, which National Geographic considers to be one of the three most beautiful lakes in the entire world. Moore also owns a penthouse in New York City, which he declared as his official residence for many years. However, following the success of his 2002 film, Bowling for Columbine, Moore switched his residence back to Michigan, which has a lower state tax rate, thereby reducing his state tax liability by hundreds of thousands of dollars.

In Bowling for Columbine, Moore claimed that Americans buy firearms because they are irrationally fearful and singled out conservatives as “paranoid.” Ironically, when Moore travels the country to promote a book or film, he is often protected by armed guards because he believes that right-wing gun nuts are out to get him.

Another theme that runs through Moore’s films and books is that the United States is a racist country. For example, he claims that only five percent of those who work in journalism are black. Revealingly, in his 2005 book, Do As I Say (Not As I Do): Profiles in Liberal Hypocrisy, author Peter Schweizer cataloged Moore’s own record of affirmative action:

First I checked the senior credits for his latest film ─ Fahrenheit 911.... Moore had hired fourteen producers, three editors, a production manager, and a production coordinator. All nineteen are white. So were all three cameramen and the two people who did the original music....

Obviously, I thought, this must be some sort of anomaly. Michael Moore is too sensitive, too in tune with racism in America, to be so exclusionary. So I checked the credits on his other projects.

Bowling for Columbine: fourteen producers, thirteen of them white. The two executives in charge of production: both white, along with the cameraman, the film editor, and the music composer.

The Big One, his 1997 documentary about workers’ rights: five credited producers, all white, along with both music composers, two directors of photography, the production manager, and editor.

Canadian Bacon, his 1995 feature film: ten producers, all white, along with both music composers, two film editors, and the director of photography.

Pets or Meat: The Return to Flint, his 1992 follow-up documentary to Roger & Me: three producers, all white.

Roger & Me, his first documentary, two producers, both white.

TV Nation, his television program, which aired on NBC and Fox: thirteen producers, all of them white. Four film editors, all white, along with ten writers, all of whom were white.

The Awful Truth, a television program that ran for several seasons, had six writers, all of them white; seventeen producers, fifteen of them white; nine film editors, all white; music composer and cinematographer, both white.

The same pattern applied to the people he hired to help him research and write his books. In his most recent work, Dude, Where’s My Country?, he credits a brain trust behind the book, three people who did fact checking, and two members from his staff. All seven are white.

In short, of the 134 producers, editors, cinematographers, composers, and production coordinators Moore hired, only three were black. (He did hire one white producer who majored in African American Studies. Perhaps that counts.)

For those keeping track, Michael Moore comes in well below the 5 percent figure in journalism that he is so exercised about.

Moore also likes to criticize what he describes as white flight to the suburbs, which he considers to be proof that American society is racist. Ironically, Moore’s main residence is in Central Lake, Michigan, which the 2010 census revealed had a population of 952, but only one resident is black.

In his book, Downsize This, Moore displayed his support for labor unions by claiming in the introduction that he hired two researchers and encouraged them to join a labor union. He once declared that “all places of employment should have unions. All workers need representation unless they are owners of the company.” But when his television show, TV Nation, was under production for NBC, he tried to discourage two of the show’s writers from joining the Writers Guild by saying that he would have to lay one of them off if they did because he did not have enough money to pay the higher union rate. In the end, Michael Moore is as focused on making money as any corporation that he has ever criticized.

Barbra Streisand

Barbra Streisand is arguably the most powerful female voice in Hollywood. Her ability to raise millions of dollars for Democratic candidates causes people to sit up and take notice. It might surprise more than a few people to learn that Streisand comes from a fairly impoverished background. Her parents were loyal Democrats, and she dutifully followed their politics. Streisand moved even further to the Left during the 1970s, as she embraced the feminist movement and became close friends and political allies with Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, and Bella Abzug, the radical congresswoman from New York who gained notoriety for wearing big hats. Streisand raised lots of money for Abzug, and also for George McGovern’s presidential campaign in 1972. She was very upset when Richard Nixon beat McGovern but, despite being a staunch Democrat, Streisand did not enthusiastically support Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign in 1976, because she did not consider Carter to be liberal enough.

Having grown up in relative poverty, Streisand likes to cultivate a public image that portrays her as a champion of the working class. In private, however, she is no friend of the disadvantaged. Brad Meltzer, who used to work for Streisand, describes one incident: “She was generous in terms of large amounts, big charities, things like that, but absolutely mean and niggardly about the salaries of the working people she hired. I recall once that Jon [Streisand’s husband] had hired some young Mexican workers who had no green cards and paid them $3.50 an hour, but the work wasn’t getting done fast enough. Barbra wanted them to work overtime. They asked for an additional 25 cents an hour overtime. She told me to fire them and have them replaced.”

Streisand is equally abusive to people on movie sets. Producer William Wyler once noted, “She doesn’t go out of her way [for people]. It’s not her manner to be especially gracious. It’s just not in her makeup; that’s not the girl.” Crew members are told to look away when Streisand passes by them or they will be fired. When she performed at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, hotel employees were ordered to avoid eye contact with her.

Streisand has a reputation for defending civil liberties, particularly the First Amendment right to free speech. Putting her money where her mouth is, she donates heavily to the American Civil Liberties Union. But when Streisand goes on concert tours, the musicians who perform with her must sign agreements that they will say nothing to the press, or even their relatives and friends, about her. This was too much for even Streisand’s admiring biographer, Anne Edwards, who wrote, “Her authoritarian demand of employees to sign papers that bind them to silence, to threaten the loss of their jobs if they discuss their work with her, is at extreme odds with all her professed liberalism. And although such tactics are not unconstitutional unless they emanate from a government agency, it is a gag order, an infringement on the right of the free speech of others.... The double standard here is both shocking and disappointing.”

The issue that seems to most motivate Streisand is environmentalism. She gives generously to a number of environmentalist organizations and is on the record as being particularly concerned about the overconsumption of natural resources. But Streisand appears to be free from her worries about conspicuous consumption when it comes to considering her own behavior, given that the annual water bill to keep the lawn of her Malibu ranch looking green has been as high as $22,000. An electricity shortage in California during the summer of 2001 led Streisand to advise the public to cut down the use of air conditioning and to dry laundry outside on the clothes line. Asked if Streisand was going to do the same, her spokesman responded, “You really expect me to ask her that!?” As it turned out, a friend gave a hint as to the answer when she told reporters, “She is someone who cannot be hot, not even for a second.” And Pat Conroy, who lived in one of Streisand’s homes when she made his best-selling novel into the film Prince of Tides, provided another insight when he stated, “She lives like Marie Antoinette.”

Like fellow hypocrite Michael Moore, Streisand likes to project herself as a champion of oppressed minorities, even claiming common cause with them because she is Jewish. Despite all her talk about racism and affirmative action, Streisand does not appear to be all that keen about hiring minorities to work for her various film companies. In writing the above-mentioned book, Do As I Say (Not As I Do): Profiles in Liberal Hypocrisy, author Peter Schweizer examined the various projects over which Streisand had the power to make hiring decisions, stretching from 1983 to 2005. It turns out that, out of 63 producers and directors she hired, only one was black (and that turned out to be Whoopi Goldberg, who co-starred in one of Streisand’s films and who allegedly insists on a producer credit for all of her films). It appears that, just like the conservatives she abhors, Streisand hires the best people available and does not give a hoot about conforming to some politically correct affirmative-action quota.

Alec Baldwin

Not only is he an actor of stage and screen (both film and television) but, as it turns out, Alec Baldwin is also a writer. He wrote and co-published A Promise to Ourselves: A Journey Through Fatherhood and Divorce, which came out in 2008. It was described by some as Baldwin’s “book about parenting.” The irony in that was made apparent during the preceding year, when Baldwin left a scathing voicemail message on his daughter’s cellphone because she did not have it turned on when he tried to call her. Here is a transcript of that voice-mail message:

Once again, I have made an *ss of myself trying to get to a phone. You have made an *ss out of me for the last time. Three letters: ABA. A, Always, B, Be, A, Answering. Always be answering. Always be answering. AIDA. Attention. Interest. Decision. Action. Attention. Do I have your attention? Interest. Are you interested? I know you are ’cause it’s pick up the phone or get your *ss straightened out.

You answer or you get hit with a brick. Decision. Have you made your decision to pick up the phone? And action. AIDA. Pick up the g****mn phone. You got a call coming in, you think I made it because I’ve got nothing better to do? I could be shouting s**t at random people on the street, but I’m calling you. I don’t care that you’re twelve or eleven or whatever, are you pig enough to pick it up? I’m a good father, and you’re a pig.

I don’t give a s**t. Good father. You think this is abuse? You think this is abuse, you thoughtless pain in the *ss? AIDA. Get mad you daughter of a b**ch. Get mad. You know what it takes to answer my call? It takes brass balls to answer my call. Go and do likewise. The phone is ringing, you pick it up, it’s yours, you don’t, I got no sympathy for you. I’d wish you good luck, but you wouldn’t know what to do with it if you got it. You better be ready Friday the 20th to meet with me. Pig. Oh, also, tell your mother I said “Go f*** yourself.” This is Dad, ring me back when you get a chance.

That does not exactly sound like behavior that would qualify a person to write a book about parenting!

Baldwin also writes for the online Huffington Post, and in 2008 wrote a commentary entitled “To Hell With Wall Street” in which he railed against the idea of the federal government bailing out the big banks. But that did not stop him from becoming a pitchman three years later for Capitol One, which received $3.56 billion of the same bailout money that Baldwin had earlier gotten so upset about.

If there is anything good to have come out of Baldwin’s hypocrisy, the redeeming value may have been revealed in an incident that took place during June of this year and that highlighted the hypocrisy of the media that devotes itself to Hollywood. It seems that a certain British journalist, George Stark, reported about how Baldwin’s wife had been tweeting during the funeral of The Soprano’s television show actor James Gandolfini. Baldwin threw another one of his notorious temper tantrums and, in a series of tweets, commented, “Someone wrote that my wife was tweeting at a funeral. Hey. That’s not true. But I’m gonna tweet at your funeral. George Stark, you lying little b**ch. I am gonna f*** you up. I want all of my followers and beyond to straighten out this f***ing little b**ch, George Stark. My wife and I attend a funeral to pay our respects to an old friend, and some toxic Brit writes this f***ing trash. I’d put my foot up your f***ing *ss, George Stark, but I’m sure you’d dig it too much. I’m gonna find you, George Stark, you toxic little queen, and I’m gonna f*** … you … up.”

The consequences to Baldwin resulting from his anti-gay tirade have been virtually nonexistent. NBC’s Today Show reported about the tweets, but edited out the anti-homosexual parts. In fact, Matt Lauer even supported Baldwin. CNN covered up the anti-homosexual comments, too. Why the double standard? John Nolte of Big Hollywood shed some light on the answer by pointing out, “Alec Baldwin is a well-known Democrat and supporter of President Obama’s.”

Baldwin issued a half-hearted apology by stating, “The idea of … that being something that people thought is homophobic … a queen to me has a different meaning. It’s somebody who’s just above. I know women that act queeny, I know men that are straight that act queeny, and I know gay men that act queeny. It doesn’t have to be a definite sexual connotation, or a homophobic connotation. To me those are people who think the rules don’t apply to them.” Apparently blind to his own glaring hypocrisy, it is Baldwin who acts as though the rules do not apply to him.

But CNN’s openly homosexual Anderson Cooper was not fooled and commented, “Why does Alec Baldwin get a pass when he uses gay slurs? If a conservative talked of beating up a ‘queen’ they would be vilified.”

Television celebrity cook Paula Deen may have used the “N” word 30 years ago, and her career now lies in ruins. Meanwhile, Alec Baldwin gets off scot-free. Go figure.

Other Hypocrites

Almost everyone has heard the expression, “I may not agree with what you say but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” Liberals like to use it to show how tolerant, open-minded, and supportive of free speech they are, at least in theory. In practice, however, they are not so sincere. Singer Harry Belafonte recently made an appearance on MSNBC and was asked by Al Sharpton what President Obama should do to take control of the political debate from his opponents. Belafonte replied, “The only thing left for Barack Obama to do is to work like a Third World dictator and just put all these guys in jail.”

Belafonte’s intolerant attitude is prevalent throughout Hollywood. During the Miss USA Pageant in 2009, Miss California (Carrie Prejean) voiced her support of traditional marriage in the Q&A portion of the contest. That prompted one of the judges, Perez Hilton, to explain why he voted against her: “She’s a dumb b**ch, and a hypocrite, too.... Miss USA should represent everyone. Her answer alienated millions of gay and lesbian Americans, their families and their supporters.” Apparently, we are supposed to forget that there are millions more people who do not support the homosexual lifestyle and same-sex “marriage,” as shown by public referenda around the country, including California. It appears that, in the world Hilton inhabits, such people have no right to be represented and should be silenced.

Actor Matt Damon likes to present himself as a strong supporter of America’s public school system. At a Washington, D.C., “Save Our Schools” rally a couple of years ago, Damon declared, “From the time I was in kindergarten … all the way through my high school graduation, I attended public schools. And I would not trade that education, that experience, for anything.” But that conviction does not apply to Damon’s own children. After moving from New York to Los Angeles recently, Damon revealed that he would not be enrolling his children in the Los Angeles public school system. Apparently embarrassed by his glaring hypocrisy, Damon tried to make himself look like a victim, explaining why he is sending his children to private school this way: “I mean, I pay for a private education and I’m trying to get the one that most matches the public education that I had, but that kind of progressive education no longer exists in the public system. It’s unfair.”

In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre in Connecticut, many Hollywood liberals, such as Matt Damon, George Clooney, and Uma Thurman, have campaigned for tighter regulations relating to gun control or, to put it more accurately, civilian disarmament. But they have remained silent when it comes to the role that Hollywood plays in helping to cause and promote that violence. After all, if commercials can influence people’s minds, then it is logical to conclude that a steady diet of cruelty and violence shown in television shows and in movies will also influence people’s minds. In the 1990s, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a study that showed that murder rates double in countries within 15 years of getting television. Hollywood actors, directors, and producers have grown wealthy by selling violence and bloodshed, while our society pays the price with blood and tears. Hollywood celebrities are surrounded by fawning fans who constantly give them the impression that they are special and deserve to be treated better than everyone else. Is it any wonder that they seem to have lost touch with reality?

During the 2012 presidential campaign, Democratic candidate Barack Obama tried to portray Republican candidate Mitt Romney as being one of the privileged one percent, as if that were something to be held in contempt. But Obama was more than happy to mingle and feel at home with the Hollywood set, a great many of whom are in that upper one percent. Why are President Obama and the Hollywood elite so blind to their own glaring hypocrisy? Part of the puzzle can be explained by the realization that conservatives who act hypocritically end up hurting themselves, while liberals who act that way actually end up benefitting themselves. Hollywood liberals can revel in the feeling of moral superiority that comes with espousing their opposition to racism, economic inequality, and environmental degradation, while not having to make any kind of sacrifice for those causes. Remarkably, when it comes to the issues that matter most to Hollywood liberals in their personal lives, they act in their own self-interest. That raises an obvious question: If the ideals that Hollywood liberals espouse do not work for themselves, then why should we believe that those same ideals will work for the rest of us?

 

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