In just this past year, counting both narratives and documentaries, we’ve seen nearly a dozen, high profile anti-Iraq War films and not a single one has made a profit or argued the other side.
And yet, more are on the way. There’s no secret as to how this happened, and I offer it as proof that Hollywood is a town run almost entirely by liberal ideologues. But this is also an industry built on the personal relationship, and here’s where things get sticky for the openly conservative.
Unless it’s to inspire their annual cinematic treatise to all things them — the annual film decrying the 1950s blacklist which forced a few screenwriters to use a pseudonym — present-day liberal Hollywood doesn’t much care for the word “blacklist,” especially when it’s them being accused of doing the blacklisting. Their defense is to hide behind the literal and claim there is no actual blacklist or organized conspiracy to keep openly conservative filmmakers from getting work.
In 2004, before anyone had even seen The Passion of the Christ, before Mel Gibson would drunkenly reveal his darker side, leftists poured out of the entertainment, academic, and religious worlds to unleash an unholy hell on the film and its maker. Too late to stop the film (it had secured distribution), the goal was therefore two-fold: to hurt the movie financially (which obviously failed), but also to launch a pre-emptive strike against any filmmaker thinking about following Gibson’s lead and scampering off the liberal Hollywood plantation. The message was clear: Stray and you will be personally destroyed. And it worked. The Passion may be the only film to make over a half-billion dollars and not create a me-too phenomenon. A more tolerant industry, or at least one driven by financial considerations, would’ve quickly greenlit a serious-minded sequel based on the Acts of the Apostles.
Reasonable people would call this a form of “blacklisting,” but liberal Hollywood isn’t reasonable and rather than have an honest discussion on the matter they instead wrap us ’round the axle of specificity when it comes to the word “blacklist. ” So let’s use another word: Passioning.
“Passioning” is what happens when the leftist Hollywood establishment, using whatever power available, demean, dismiss, diminish, and defame those they consider an ideological apostate. In 2004 it was Mel Gibson and The Passion of the Christ; today it’s director David Zucker and An American Carol.
With a thirty-year track record filled with all the expected highs and lows that come with a long, steady career, David Zucker’s on record making fun of just about everyone. This time, with An American Carol, he’s set his satiric sights on Michael Moore and all things sacred to the left — and the passioning’s already begun.
In late July, Politico’s Jeffrey Ressner wrote an article detailing the plot of An American Carol. Within just a few days, Devin Faraci of the highly trafficked filmsite CHUD.com — a site plugged into the industry well enough to get email scoops directly from A-list directors like Paul Greengrass — responded with a post (I’ve redacted slightly) headlined: “SURELY THE DIRECTOR OF AIRPLANE! HAS LOST HIS G**DAMNED MIND.” He then wrote in his profanity-laden piece, “Now that the storyline of the movie has come out, I fear he’s gone bats**t insane.”
Inspired by his ideological counterpart, that very same day (and just two days after suggesting Jon Voight be blacklisted for writing an op-ed opposing Obama), former Los Angeles Times, Hollywood Reporter, Entertainment Weekly and People magazine writer, Jeffrey Wells, posted a vicious third-hand account of An American Carol on his influential blog:
This evening a reliable source passed along this verbatim quote from a friend who’s seen An American Carol: “This thing goes beyond heavy handed. It reminds one of the sensation of watching Burn, Holllywood [sic] Burn. It tries to be outrageous but just comes off as a paean from a Republican who wants to continue getting tax breaks. I rank it right out there with Skidoo and Can Hieronymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness as far as the WTF nature of it all. The laugh quotient is right up there with The Love Guru and confirms that David Zucker was always the Fredo of the ZAZ comedy mafia.
Ignoring the archaic film references these types trade to impress each other, in just a few short sentences An American Carol is compared to one of the worst films ever made and the filmmaker’s own thirty-year career is labeled a fraud. Most interesting is the lack of any specific plot points or examples of what exactly goes “beyond heavy handed.” And as someone who’s actually seen the film, I can tell you that An American Carol has less to do with “tax breaks” than Jurassic Park. You can come to your own conclusions.
Not to be outdone, just a few days later, longtime Los Angeles Times’ columnist Patrick Goldstein picked up the flag, called Zucker a “flame-throwing Dick Cheney conservative,” and then asked with no observable tongue in cheek: “Can conservatives truly be funny? … Does Zucker still have a funny bone?”
Ironically, Zucker could have made a fifth Scary Movie installment without anyone raising a single question about his sanity, character, career choices, or “funny bone.” But a bold, thoroughly original, risky, shot across the establishment’s bow? And here I thought liberals admired iconoclasts.
Keep in mind that just as it was with The Passion, the movie’s not the point. An American Carol is a fait accompli; it will hit 2,000 screens on October 3. This round of passioning is about what it’s always about: punishing Zucker and scaring off anyone considering a similar treason.