Politicizing the Oscars
A conspiracy theory articulated by conservatives is that Hollywood is a town dominated by liberals and that the entertainment industry is friendlier to Democrats than Republicans. It is assumed by many on the Right that actors like Clint Eastwood and Bruce Willis are afforded more freedom and success because they make Hollywood studios money. As a rule, (the theory goes) Hollywood looks down on members of the GOP. Actor Scott Baio who played Chachi in the Happy Days television sitcom articulated this point in an internet chat room not too long ago.
Author Scott Holleran sums up what many on the Right perceive voicing his objections to Michelle Obama’s appearance during last night’s Academy Awards:
The moment cemented what most already know: that Hollywood is dominated by left-wing dogma. No one could seriously claim that such a presentation by a right-wing president’s wife would have been possible.
He goes on to observe:
The best Oscar being granted by a politician’s wife in Washington, DC, made a mockery of everything the movies can and ought to be, especially when the politician and wife are New Left radicals intent on destroying the nation that made making movies possible.
What disappointed me while watching the Academy Awards last night was when Michelle Obama made a special appearance from the White House to announce the winner of the Best Picture award. In light of this segment of the Oscars, I can see where Holleran is coming from and agree with the latter part of his blog post but not the former. Suspicion of any public institution is warranted, however, I do not think that the entertainment industry discriminates against people because of their political affiliation. I did at one point subscribe to the idea and it is possible at one point Hollywood may have been a largely liberal town. If so, I would imagine it was due to backlash against the efforts of Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy during the Red Scare of the 1950’s when he and the House un-American Activities Committee conducted their investigations against Communists in all areas of American life including the motion picture industry.
Clint Eastwood states that there are a lot of conservatives in Hollywood and entrepreneur Harry Sloan dismisses such claims as having experienced almost all facets of the entertainment industry. A documentary was broadcast in 2005 on American Movie Classics cable channel examining if Hollywood has a liberal bias. However, discrimination against conservatives is blatantly apparent in academia and in some segments of the news media. It is in those areas that the bulk of criticism (if any) should be directed. Fortunately, if Republicans did experience discrimination in the entertainment industry it is coming to an end. For that I think we have the Obamas to thank.