Two new books destined to help shape industry conversation on faith and culture …for good or for ill. (Videos/Articles from The Hollywood Reporter and the Wall Street Journal below.)
New books by Pulitzer prize-winning playwright, and TV writer/producer David Mamet, and journalist Ben Shapiro are causing quite a ruckus in Hollywood this week. Mamet’s The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture and Shapiro’s Primetime Propaganda: The True Hollywood Story of How the Left Took Over Your TV both target the liberal leaning bias of Hollywood.
If Shapiro’s videos in the Hollywood Reporter (below) are any indication of the tone of his book, then his message is going to be a tough sell in tinsel town. Given the overreaction of many to Rob Bell’s promotional videos, I certainly want to extend him the benefit of the doubt. However, sensationalizing the painful truth (and it is true) concerning the historically rough relationship between Hollywood and anyone not ascribing to politically correct dogma might not be the best way to begin a nuanced conversation.
Fear-based, ‘Us versus Them’ rhetoric is the last thing we need just when the conversation between Hollywood and filmmakers of faith is finally getting started. (See, If you Live it, They will Come.. to the Theater.) Fair treatment of faith themes is growing on the big screen–The Blind Side, Soul Surfer–and even on television. ‘The Good Wife’ (CBS), ‘Justified’ (FX), ‘Friday Night Lights’ (NBC), and Mamet’s own ‘The Unit’ (CBS) have each featured Christian conversions by major characters in recent seasons. Even more socially ‘liberal’ shows such as ‘Glee’ (Fox), and ‘Modern Family’ (ABC) have handled themes of faith, church, and eternal life with sensitivity and sometimes tremendous power. (See, Glee’s Faith Episode.)
The need for reasoned discourse searching for common ground for the common good has never been more critical. Two Handed Warriors was started in hopes of fostering an ongoing, respectful, and nuanced conversation between culture makers and faith builders. I sure hope this conversation doesn’t screw things up.
Furthermore, the assumed notion that ‘Christian Spirituality’ = ‘Conservative Politics’ is as dangerous as it is wrong-headed. While nearly all Christians are socially conservative by Hollywood standards, we can be found at all points of the political spectrum. There are things that some conservatives swear by that I just want to swear at. Part of me fears that even mentioning these books in Two Handed Warriors will only add to presupposition that a website devoted to faith and culture is automatically ‘right-wing.’
Still, I can’t help noting that even some of the most ‘liberal’ Christians in Hollywood have expressed many of the same concerns raised by Shapiro and to some extent Mamet. In both direct attacks and indirect snubs, Hollywood has expressed a relatively consistent message that–conservative or not–faith perspectives are generally not welcome. In fact, I can’t help but notice that a significant number of industry conservatives who were willing to speak on the record with Shapiro are in fact dynamic Christians. (See Shapiro’s post Hollywood Hates Conservatives.)
As a number of other historically under-represented groups in Hollywood can tell you, it takes courage to speak up when you are being discriminated against. It’s easier to not rock the boat for fear of retaliation. (Mamet thinks he is already experiencing discrimination in the reviews of his work.) I applaud the courage of those who spoke to Shapiro even if not his overall sensationalist tone.
So while I have neither read Shapiro and Mamet’s books yet, nor am I certain I will endorse their politics once I do, I believe they will end up shaping the conversation of faith and culture in Hollywood for years come. (Reading group anyone?) I am putting them out there for your consideration in hopes that they will inspire Two Handed Warriors seeking to reimagine faith and culture one story at a time.
TV Executives Admit in Taped Interviews That Hollywood Pushes a Liberal Agenda (Exclusive Video)
by Paul Bond in The Hollywood Reporter
In clips that will hit the Internet to promote a new book, producers including “Friends” co-creator Marta Kauffman and “House” creator David Shore say Hollywood discriminates against and belittles conservatives.
Some of TV’s top executives from the past four decades may have gotten more than they bargained for when they agreed to be interviewed for a politically charged book that was released Tuesday, because video of their controversial remarks will soon be hitting the Internet.
The book makes the case that TV industry executives, writers and producers use their clout to advance a liberal political agenda. The author bases his thesis on, among other things, 39 taped interviews that he’ll roll out piecemeal during the next three weeks. (See also Shapiro’s post, Hollywood Hates Conservatives.)
The Hollywood Reporter obtained several of the not-yet-released clips, embedded below. Each contains a snippet of an interview, usually some historical footage of the TV shows the interviewee was responsible for and, naturally, a plea to purchase the book, “Primetime Propaganda” by Ben Shapiro and published by Broad Side, an imprint of HarperCollins.
In one video, Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman says that when she cast Candace Gingrich-Jones, half-sister of Republican former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, as the minister of a lesbian wedding,
“There was a bit of ‘f*ck you’ in it to the right wing.”
Kauffman also acknowledges she “put together a staff of mostly liberal people,” which is another major point of Shapiro’s book: that conservatives aren’t welcome in Hollywood…
Enter Stage Right
David Mamet’s Book “THE SECRET KNOWLEDGE” Reviewed
by Andrew Klavan in the Wall Street Journal
In a celebrated 2008 essay for the Village Voice, David Mamet made the startling announcement that he was “no longer a brain-dead liberal.” I think it only fair to mention here that I rejoiced. Mr. Mamet is a terrific playwright, maybe even a great one (“American Buffalo,” “Glengarry Glen Ross”) and a screenwriter of the first rank (“The Verdict,” “The Untouchables”). That a writer of such talent and stature had become a conservative seemed to me to promise some relief from the soporific political conformity of the American arts.
So I rejoiced—and I also sympathized. Breaking free of leftism while working in show business is like escaping from “The Matrix” only to find oneself in “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” You wake to a risky but bracing new reality of individual liberty, limited government and free markets and are instantly beset by zombified statist dreamers determined either to make you rejoin their ranks or to destroy you.
Mr. Mamet reports that a certain prominent left-leaning newspaper actually panned his first openly conservative play not once but twice for good measure. (Libertarian humorist Greg Gutfeld has introduced a “Mamet Attack Clock” on his late-night cable show to measure just how fast critics will now downgrade their opinions of the playwright’s work.)
Under such circumstances, it is natural that Mr. Mamet would develop the urge to cry out, like Kevin McCarthy in the famous last scene of “Body Snatchers”: “Listen to me! Please listen!” From that urge, no doubt, arises Mr. Mamet’s new work of nonfiction, “The Secret Knowledge.” It is his attempt to explain and disseminate the thinking behind his conversion to the right.
“Liberalism is a religion,” he writes. “It affords a feeling of spiritual rectitude at little or no cost. Central to this religion is the assertion that evil does not exist, all conflict being attributed to a lack of understanding between the opposed. Well and good, but this does not accord with the experience of anyone…”