The redoubtable and physically intimidating John Nolte over at Breitbart's Big Hollywood has a piece pulverizing left wing movie star Matt Damon after his new socialist sci-fi epic Elysium somehow failed to turn to capitalist gold at the box office. Thus the Noltenator:
For those wondering how Matt Damon (or anyone) could take away the title of "King of the Left-wing Flops" from George Clooney, just look at the numbers below. Matt Damon is 4-for-4 — four left wing flops in just four years. Not for lack of trying, Clooney has never achieved that. Clooney also mitigates the damage he does with mid-level budget films. Damon, on the other hand, likes his flaming balls of left-wing fail to be as spectacularly expensive as possible:
"Elysium" (2013): $56 million; $38 million worldwide - 3284 theatres - $115 production budget*
"Happy Feet Two" (2011): $65 million; $150 million worldwide - 3606 screens - $140 million production budget*
"Green Zone" (2010): $35 million; $95 million worldwide - 3004 theatres - $100 million production budget*
*add $50 to $80 million for promotion and advertising, then double the total for the amount a film has to clear just to break even.
"Flaming balls of left wing fail." I mean, you gotta love the guy, right? Anyway, read the whole thing here.
Now, Nolte always makes me laugh and even occasionally picks up the tab for lunch, but you know what really gets me about this story? You won't like it. It's not red meat. It's nuanced even! But here it is.
Damon's a good movie star. So's Clooney. Both are talented, obviously bright guys. Damon, I've heard from people who should know, is an all-around decent bloke. I've never heard anything bad personally about Clooney.
But the political stuff they do — it's just so ridiculous. Why is that? How is our culture failing or deceiving its creative class that such gentlemen as these should come to feel there is some virtue in creating art so in conflict with their lives and actions? Look, there's always room for two political sides, I get that. I can understand disagreeing with the right about, say, abortion. It's a tough issue. I can understand disagreeing with conservatives on gay rights. I disagree with them too. There are all kinds of discussions we could have, all kinds of compromises we might make.
But why should an actor think it's right to take a $20-million payday (or whatever) to make a $100-million movie touting socialism in the hopes of turning a profit in the free market? What sense does that make? Why should he try to sell us what he wouldn't buy? I have no problem with the guy sending his kids to private schools — I did too. But then why go around singing the praises of corrupt teachers unions and a failed public system you wouldn't use? Absurd. Good Will Hunting touts Howard Zinn's dishonest anti-American history book — while its stars live off the fat of the land. Why does that feel to them like the right thing to do? Or making anti-war propaganda while our troops are actually in the field in harm's way? WTF?
Some right wingers like to tell themselves that Hollywood types are evil or stupid or more dishonest than the next guy. Personally, I think that misses the more complicated point. I think you can get closer to the truth if you assume that Damon and Clooney are, in fact, good guys — guys you'd like if you met them — and then ask yourself what is it in human nature or American culture that leads them to live one way and sell and celebrate another.
What pried them loose from the truth of their own lives, the truth of their own hearts? It's almost a kind of madness, isn't it? That's what we're up against, that's our enemy, not the people themselves.