Ed Driscoll

Question Asked and Answered

“Why Does Hollywood Ignore the ‘American Sniper’ Audience?,” Larry O’Connor asks at the Washington Free Beacon:

Hollywood ignores the middle of our country. So much audience out there just WAITING to give their money to these arrogant studios. If only they had the wisdom to hire more writers, producers, and directors who spoke to this audience. It makes you wonder … why don’t they?

We keep hearing that all Hollywood cares about is money … well, if that’s the case, then why don’t they capture the money from this audience by creating more content that appeals to them?

Ask most who’ve worked in the industry who hold a right-of-center political perspective and they’ll tell you that these subjects are so outside the world view of most studio executives (and their gatekeepers) that the content rarely even makes it to their desks for evaluation.

It’s hardly breaking news to say the entertainment industry’s values and priorities are antithetical to the rest of America. Just look at the dismal performance of HBO’s Girls, a series celebrated and rewarded within the industry but virtually ignored outside of New York and LA.

As the late Andrew Breitbart told me once during an interview, David Geffen is under no obligation to make a movie that’s antithetical to his worldview.

No matter how much it might clean up at the box office.

As I noted in late August 2010, a year in which the media increasingly knew Congress was about to change hands, and in response threw a temper tantrum (as Peter Jennings would say) shouting the most hateful incantations the Tea Party specifically and Americans in general, our news media is basically “closed circuit TV for the ruling class” on both coasts. So is most of the entertainment that Hollywood produces, with the exception of breakthroughs such Mel Gibson’s The Passion and Clint’s American Sniper, and other than the summer sci-fi and superhero movies. (And even those pulp-inspired genres have increasingly begun to reflect the left’s obsessions.) That’s also true of much of cable TV’s entertainment product: In-between exploring the personal psychodramas and sophomoric power games that drive many TV producers, Brett Martin’s highly readable book Difficult Men is largely about how networks such as HBO crafted a viable entertainment model similarly designed to appeal almost entirely to a tiny niche of blue state coastal elites and their wannabe brethren.

As for the movie industry, O’Connor asks, “The question is, will this practice change after the success of American Sniper?”

I wouldn’t count on it for two reasons: the next pro-military film won’t be made by someone who has a lifetime of directing chops like Clint, just as the few earnestly religious films made in the immediate wake of The Passion didn’t have the same skill, and er, passion that Mel Gibson brought to the table, before his self-inflicted career-killing implosion.  And second, both genres allow for plenty of subversion by Hollywood. The immediate post-9/11 era saw the release of Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down and Gibson’s We Were Soldiers, both likely films that were green-lit before 9/11 occurred. These were followed by the seemingly endless craptacular stillborn anti-Iraq, anti-Bush movies that Hollywood became infamous for during the years of 2004 through 2008.

And Darren Aronofsky’s Noah and Ridley Scott’s Exodus are both examples of what modern Hollywood can do to subvert the genre of religious films. Noah was dubbed by its director “the least biblical film ever made,” which is all middle America needs to hear to know it should stay home. Similarly, regarding Scott’s film, as John Podhoretz memorably began his review last month at the Weekly Standard, “Raise your hand if you want to see Moses portrayed as an insurgent lunatic terrorist with a bad conscience, the pharaoh who sought the murder of all first-born Hebrew slaves as a nice and reasonable fellow, and God as a foul-tempered 11-year-old boy with an English accent.”

Enjoy the one-off success of American Sniper. I hope I’m proven wrong, but leftwing Hollywood’s not about learn from its lessons anytime soon.