RIP, Andrew Breitbart, the Ultimate Happy Warrior
Transcript of 2005 Breitbart Interview
Ed Driscoll: This is Ed Driscoll for PJ Media.com. I met Andrew Breitbart in person for the first time the week of November 14th 2005 during the launch week of PJ Media in New York; on November 28, 2005, I interviewed him by telephone for an article I was working on for Tech Central Station, now called Ideas In Action TV.com, for an article on Hollywood’s box office woes, which was published a week later and titled, a la Woody Allen, "Hollywood Ending."
I loved the book that Andrew had then recently co-written with Mark Ebner, titled Hollywood, Interrupted. And I was certainly aware of all of his backstage work at the Drudge Report. So I definitely wanted to get his take on how an medium that we both loved had been utterly transformed, and not necessarily for the better, since its golden era of the 1930s through the mid-1960s.
This interview was originally recorded onto a cheap mono tape recorder, originally for the purpose of my pulling quotes for my Tech Central Station article. And while I’ve done a considerable amount of restoration work, it’s still much cruder sounding than the podcasts and radio shows I’ve produced for PJ Media in the years since. But with Andrew’s passing, I thought it would be worth sharing. So apologies for the sound quality, but I think hearing Andrew riffing on the topic of how the Hollywood of old became, as he would say, Interrupted, is well worth listening to.
So let’s go back to late 2005. And the first question I put to Andrew, which was, given that Hollywood had recently announced that film attendance had dropped a staggering 12 percent from the year before, how much of it was due to the obsolescence of movies themselves, and the arrival of technological competitors such as video games, and how much was due to Hollywood’s arrogance and anti-American—certainly anti-Red State biases. Andrew replied…
Andrew Breitbart: Well, I’ll give you my opinion, and you can frame it however you like. But I can give you as much background [as possible] as to where I am.
I wrote Hollywood Interrupted with Mark Ebner, and though we don’t really agree on politics per se, (though I must say, that since we’ve started working together, I’ve swayed him way more to my point of view) the one thing we truly agreed upon is that Hollywood was heading south on so many levels, that it was difficult to keep track of it, in terms of the quality of the content, and the quality of the quote-unquote "star." There was confusion in the marketplace, in terms of competing technologies.
Ed: Well, the movie form itself is what – over a century old?
Andrew: Right. But there’s now the Internet. So the means by which we’re accessing information is changing right now at such a revolutionary pace.
I remember trying to figure out, around say 1980, when I was 11 years old, the differences between my dad’s parents, my dad and my mom, and me and my sister. I would be over my grandparents’ house, and my grandmother, because of a degenerative spinal problem, was bedridden. So she would sit there throughout the day and she’d watch CBS.
I would go into the room and visit with her, and being a kid, I would manually try and change the channel to channel 4 or channel 7, which were NBC and ABC. The 2, 4, 7 tend to be CBS, NBC and ABC in major cities like New York and LA. And she would make this noise -- AAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!!!!! -- like this primal scream -- AAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!!!!! And I’m like, "Oh, sorry!" And I would ask dad, what’s going on? And he would say, "Oh, she’s always watched CBS; that’s all she’s ever watched."
When I would be over at my parents’ house, you know, [back then] I’m new to this cable business. We’ve got pay cable at home -- this was back in the early 1980s. And there’s like 30 channels. And I’m just flipping through the channels. My parents are very comfortable with 2,4,7. Matter of fact, they can even handle the off-channels, the local channels that aren’t network-affiliated. That was their level of comfort; they thought that grandma was a little bit nuts.
Ed: But they weren’t ready for this whole cable thing.
Andrew: But then I would sit, and I would be flipping through 30 channels. And my dad would say, "Slow down! What’s going on here?!" And I would go, "I know exactly what I just went through."
Nowadays, I’m in the position where I think that I’m adaptable—I think that I’m so cutting edge with this fast-paced life, that no matter society and technology hand me, I’ll be able to adapt to it.
But clearly, that’s not true. I look at the way that young people are downloading music, movies, and videos. And videogames have become a much larger factor than I could have possibly predicted, in terms of what’s actually capturing the imagination of young people.