September 26, 2004

Speaking of Tinseltown Cons

Last week Attila the Hub and I saw Rated R: Republicans in Hollywood. One of the film's premises may be that with Mel Gibson's success and Arnold's having catapulted himself to a political office, there is a renaissance afoot of conservatism in the television/film industry.

My husband and I are in the two most left-wing LA industries: entertainment and media. (How did this happen? Well, my husband elected to join a sector wherein if you work hard and enjoy a little luck, you can make good money. Not being the brightest bulb in the marquee, I elected to go for an industry wherein if you work had and enjoy a little luck you might—just might—barely be able to eke out a living.)

My husband is "out," though he doesn't talk politics too much with his colleagues and there are awkward moments for those not "in the know." For instance, he hired a youngish writer to contribute to a television series. The bright young man wanted to please him, so he forwarded an e-mail about Kerry having picked John Edwards as his running mate, and the implications of this for the Kerry campaign. Of course, the mail underscored the importance of defeating Bush this November.

The point is not just that a writer committed a faux pas; the point is that it never crossed his mind his boss wasn't anti-Bush.

Reflecting the hard-scrabble nature of the media business, I haven't been "out," except within the community of gun owners and among "outdoor sport" publications, where I've had a handful of articles published over the years. ("Outdoor sport" means hunting and guns.)

Until a week ago Tuesday. My media industry group meets every month, and we usually go around the room and introduce ourselves. This time, instead of just announcing that I was a freelance copy editor, I mentioned the URL for this web site (though I initially garbled it, and had to correct myself—a sure sign of nervousness). Someone—let's call him Rick—asked me about the actual content.

"It's really libertarian; you'll hate it," I assured him. I did not, however, use the word war, as I didn't want to actually start one within our cozy little publishing group.

But things may be changing in media just as they seem to be changing in entertainment: later in the meeting Rick was discussing the kinds of magazines that appeal to the broader country, and made what he obviously meant to be a classic "the asses are masses" point: "people are voting for Bush," he said.

No one laughed, or followed up on his remark. So he said it again, a little louder, and I'm sure everyone heard him, but there was another subthread going on in the discussion, and people continued to be engaged in that rather than in Rick's "joke." At the time I thought it was curious, and assumed people just didn't want to get into politics in a professional setting. Later on, though, I realized just how strange it was, since usually any media/entertainment gathering has leftism in the air like oxygen is in the air, and there is usually no compunction about bringing this up, as we are "all among friends." That night, though, as I was dropping off to sleep I remembered that our group has more people who are shy of their 40th birthdays than middle-agers like me, and I realized I hadn't been the only one in that room who intended to vote for Chimpy McHalliburton.

The times, they are a-changin'. Maybe. I'm not even asking for parity: only that within both industries we attain critical mass to the point that our points of view are respected, and we aren't blackballed as intellectual lightweights. And that we stop losing jobs over our politics.

Posted by Attila at September 26, 2004 03:52 PM
Comments

I read you every day - this is my first comment.

This is a fantastic post - you described the feeling in your meeting perfectly. I felt like I was there! I'm an actress, a writer - and also conservative, and I live in Manhattan - so - well - you can imagine!!

There is NO thought in large groups that ANYONE present could be pro-Bush or pro-war. It is ASSUMED that everyone is in agreement. And the reaction when I out myself (because I just can't keep my mouth shut sometimes) is usually: "Wow ... but you seem so cool, so ... normal ..."

It's the most intolerant ignorant attitude.

Anyway. Thanks for this post.

Posted by: red at September 27, 2004 07:47 AM


I think there are basically three cities where this is the attitude: L.A., SF/Berkeley, and Manhattan. And, of course, most college campuses.

Of course, what I'm curious about is what percentage of the denizens actually believe these political passions they seem to have bought "off the rack," and how many thought things through and came to these conclusions.

It's certainly axiomatic that cool, hip, bright people don't support 1) Bush, 2) the war or defense, or 3) any kind of fiscal responsibility.

I have it a little easier, in that I can use the label "libertarian" (because it happens to be true). Of course, once they figure out that I support the war, it's all over.

Thanks for reading my blog, and thanks for sounding off in my comments.

Posted by: Attila Girl at September 27, 2004 12:28 PM




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