WANDERINGS, with Walt Brasch
Weeks of September 26-October 9, 2004
Applauding Only the ‘Right’ Entertainers
by Walter Brasch
They call themselves Patriotic Americans Boycotting Anti-American Hollywood, or PABAAH for short. If it was anything but an acronym, PABAAH would be on the Homeland Security “no-fly” list.
They believe Sean Penn and Janeane Garofalo are traitors. They want John Ashcroft, defender of some of the Bill of Rights, to charge Michael Moore with treason.
They want Americans to boycott movies that feature actors who oppose the Bush administration. They are currently telling people to boycott “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow” because Gwyneth Paltrow said she worries about “a weird, over-patriotic atmosphere” in the United States. Apparently, it’s patriotic for people to put two weather-beaten flags on their 15-year-old junkers, push a cell phone to their ear, and weave in and out of traffic to prove how American they are. It’s also patriotic to put portable acrylic signs with removable letters in front of their stores so those motorists can be reinforced with the All–American doctrines of “God Bless America, United We Stand, and french fries $1.49.” And it’s definitely patriotic to attack people who disagree with the Bush administration.
Unfortunately, PABAAH isn’t isolated. Drug addict Rush Limbaugh calls anyone in the creative community who disagrees with the president “Left Coast Hollywood Kooks.” Right wing mouth Joe Scarborough, who believes there really is a geographical place in the world called “Scarborough Country,” declared Danny Glover was “un-American” for speaking against Bushian policies. To make America whole again, Scarborough posted the phone number for MCI and told his MSNBC viewers to call the telephone giant to dump Glover as a spokesperson. Thousands did just as they were told.
In campaign rallies, George W. Bush castigates those misguided liberals who he claims believe the “heart and soul of America can be found in Hollywood.” To large raucous pre-selected Bush-friendly audiences which roundly boo the “Hollyweirds,” the campaigning President then jerks and cleanly changes their direction to turn them into a cheering throng of super-patriots when he declares, “the heart and soul of America is right here in —.” Just fill in the blank with whatever community the campaign has descended upon.
Before every campaign stop, the President rehearses his lines, sits for several minutes of makeup, hair dressing, and primping, and from a stage backed by professionally-crafted scenery reads his speech from a teleprompter. The irony is lost upon the sycophants who pledge loyalty to be admitted into his presence. Also lost is the irony that for nine years Bush was on the board of directors of Silver Screen Management, a film production company that once had a lucrative distribution deal with Walt Disney, which recently dumped “Fahrenheit 911,” the Michael Moore film critical of—who else?—George W. Bush.
The President and the nation’s Chief Henchman, also known as the Vice President, don’t even have to name the Hollywood celebrities. All Americans know they’re the Dixie Chicks, who told the world they were ashamed of Junior Bush and were soon southern fried in the media. They know the “traitorous” Ed Asner, Kevin Bacon, Alex Baldwin, Cher, Matt Damon, Mike Farrell, Paul Newman, Sarah Jessica Parker, Robert Redford, Julia Roberts, Susan Sarandon, Martin Sheen, Aaron Sorkin, Meryl Streep, Barbra Streisand, Rob Reiner, Tim Robbins, and thousands of others. The President’s supporters whine about how the celebrities are donating millions to his opposition, as if the millions of dollars shoved upon the President by the NRA, oil and drug industries, the rest of corporate America—and the “right” leaning part of the entertainment industry—is somehow pure.
While the Republicans loathe the Hollywood crowd, they are quick to use them. No Republican screamed in agony when moderate Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger told a prime-time TV audience during the Republican National Convention that he was there to help terminate the “girlie-man” Democratic opposition. They have no hesitation in trotting out multi-Grammy winner Travis Tritt who majestically declared, “to be a good American . . . you have to get behind President Bush.” The Bush–Cheney campaign machine doesn’t reject the endorsements of Jessica Simpson, Bo Derek, and Britney Spears, which it probably believes are great political intellects. And, it certainly doesn’t reject the support of Drew Carey, Dixie Carter, Charlie Daniels, Larry Gatlin, Kelsey Grammer, Ricky Schroeder, James Woods, the entire NASCAR starting lineup, and Shirley Jones who, like Tritt, said she found it “astonishing to see how many of these Hollywood big-wigs are trying to undermine President Bush.”
Those “liberal” Hollywood types have even scammed the voters to be elected to Congress. In addition to former Rep. Joe Scarborough (R-Fla.), the nation has been represented by tap-dancing Sen. George Murphy (R-Calif.), film almost-star Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.), Rep. Ben (Cooter) Jones (R-Ga.), Harvard-educated but forever “gopher” Rep. Fred Grandy (R-Iowa), and Rep. Sonny Bono (R-Calif.), who appeared several times on “Love Boat,” and whose fourth wife, Mary, followed him into the Congress where she is even more conservative than he ever was.
The neocon Republicans believe they are the party of righteousness and morality. Perhaps they should be following the actions of one of their own. Long before he became a two-term Republican governor and then a two-term president, Ronald Reagan was a staunch Democrat and president of the Screen Actors Guild. At a time when super-patriots were washing the epithets of “Commie” and “pinko” on everyone who had an opinion different from their own, Ronald Reagan stood with his membership of actors, looked Congress in the eye and declared he wasn’t about to play into their hands and name names during the witch hunts of the early 1950s.
Our nation and the wishes of our Founding Fathers would be better served if more Americans would stand up to the flag-waving Constitutionally-dense congressional leaders, and to the President and his minions who believe dissent is disloyal, and patriotism is unyielding, unquestioning, uncompromising acceptance.
[Walter Brasch’s latest book is Sex and the Single Beer Can; Probing the Media and American Culture. You may contact him at email@example.com or check out his website at www.walterbrasch.com]