Roger L. Simon

Will Sean Hannity Save (or Destroy) Hollywood? UPDATED

(UPDATE at bottom)

Who would have thought that just as Hollywood was falling  apart, its box office receipts in the toilet, and its most Oscar-laden producer being revealed to have spent the better part of his life in one, a new producer would come riding in on a white horse to save the entertainment industry and that producer would be… Sean Hannity?!

Well, not by himself. The popular  Fox News host is flanked by three more seasoned filmmakers — director/actor Kevin Sorbo, his wife, actress/writer Sam Sorbo, and longtime screenwriter Dan Gordon. Their film — Let There Be Light — opened Friday in a few hundred theaters nationwide. I saw it in the privacy of my office where, as an Academy member, I often watch screeners while, I’m ashamed to admit, multitasking. This time I didn’t. The movie was too compelling.

The reason was simple. Unlike almost all Hollywood fare, this film was made for a purpose beyond the personal enrichment or aggrandizement of the filmmakers.

That message was Christian redemption and it is quite heartfelt. It is easy to see how the movie could be a  hit with the burgeoning Christian film audience, a not insubstantial market. But it could go beyond that. According to a 2016 Gallup poll, 89 percent of Americans still believe in God. That’s a pretty decent demographic that Hollywood often forgets — or insults. In the old days, it didn’t. (More of that in a moment. First the plot premise.)

Kevin Sorbo plays Dr. Sol Harkins, world’s most famous atheist and author of the best-selling Aborting God. He’s a Bill Maher wannabe, making big bucks and romancing models while taking potshots at naive Christians. Sol lost his nine-year-old son to cancer, which not only precipitated his atheism, but also a divorce from his Christian wife Katy (Sam Sorbo) with whom he has two other sons. He’s living a life of jazz and kicks and copious amounts of vodka until, after one or three too many, he drives headlong into a wall and has one of those near-death experiences from which, since we are only twenty minutes into the movie, he emerges.

From there begins his road to redemption that takes a number of turns, some tugging at the heartstrings. The movie is highly melodramatic, which is both its blessing and its curse, but largely the former. Because the plot is so melodramatic, occasionally the film is too on the nose, but both Sorbos are excellent actors and the authenticity of their performances always succeeds in overcoming it.

Part of the problem is us. We are not used to seeing movies so heartfelt anymore, especially in the spiritual arena. It can embarrass us. It’s not chic, as so many Hollywood movies are. But the old Hollywood movies (mostly) weren’t chic. Casablanca wasn’t chic, and it was very heartfelt.  Let There Be Light is too. And it makes you think.

Which brings me back to the movie’s executive producer — Cecil B. DeHannity. A lot of people, myself included, have been yammering on for some time about how conservatives should take back Hollywood, at least part of it,  while also complaining — I’ve done this too — that conservative fat cats almost never open their wallets to support contemporary entertainment. They just donate to the Philharmonic.  (Beethoven will do fine on his own.)

Sean Hannity, of all people, has actually gone and done it.

Actually, the right approach is NOT to go through Hollywood, but to build a system of our own. Listening to Sean on The Mark Levin Show Friday, I suspect he gets this. He was proud they made and are distributing this film outside the system. That is the way to do it.

Let There Be Light is a promising beginning, maybe more than that. It deserves our support. Yes, Hollywood occasionally serves our audience (Lone Survivor and The Blind Side are two examples), but why not do it ourselves? Go spend your money on this movie and the Hannity-Sorbo team will make another and they will spawn others and….

Remember, as the late Andrew B. said, “Politics is downstream of culture.”

UPDATE: I have been asked in the comments if I have been reading Patrick Courrielche’s (with Adryana Cortez) three-part takedown of Hollywood leftism, the first two parts of which have been published on Breitbart. Yes, I have and it’s excellent. His historical overview is quite accurate from my perspective and, being rather older, ahem, than Patrick, I was personally witness to some of the events he describes. I actually attended Dalton Trumbo’s famous (and now somewhat disingenuous) 1970 speech to the WGA re: the blacklist, “Only Victims.”  I have but one extremely minor quibble with Patrick. He correctly says that the Hollywood left doesn’t really think Hollywood conservatives are racist-sexist-homophobic-blablabla. He says the differences are essentially tribal. True, but there’s a reason for that. Hollywood leftism is a form of hypnosis on the self. These quondam lefties know they are really ultra-narcissistic greed heads with (in some cases) a lucky talent and, in order not to hate themselves for what they are, they create a mini-me that pretends to be saving the world.  If you’re interested in more details about this theory, you can find them in my book Turning Right at Hollywood and Vine: The Perils of Coming Out Conservative in Tinseltown.

Roger L. Simon is an award-winning novelist, Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and co-founder of PJ Media.  His latest book is I Know Best:  How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If  It Hasn’t Already.  You can find him on Twitter @rogerlsimon.