By Laura Bulkeley Goldsmith, Reprinted from Dispatches, 5/22/95
July 1995 – Following the horrific bombing in Oklahoma City, a very astute point has been made amidst all the media blather about right-wing militia groups and right-wing radio talk shows fostering a dangerous distrust of the government: that is, Hollywood has been cooking up bald-faced, anti-government agitprop for decades.
Well, I not only take that point, but I can prove it, prove it even beyond the most recent and hideous illustration, Panther, and the most obvious and egregious, JFK.
Here are some more examples, and these don’t even include films made about the Hollywood blacklist in the ’50s nor do they include anything made for television. (The X-Files, a fabulously effective television series which airs on Fox, is nevertheless a textbook example of government conspiracy paranoia run amok).
Executive Action (1973) Burt Lancaster; The Parallax View (1974) Warren Beatty; Hearts and Minds (1974), a documentary directed by Peter Davis; Nashville (1975) Lily Tomlin; All the President’s Men (1976) Robert Redford; Winter Kills (1979) Jeff Bridges; Missing (1982) Jack Lemmon; The Panama Deception (1992), a documentary directed by Barbara Trent; A Clear and Present Danger (1993) Harrison Ford; Dave (1993) Kevin Kline; The Pelican Brief (1993) Julia Roberts; Outbreak (1995) Dustin Hoffman.
These films are not in the least bit obscure. There are several more. These are simply the most obvious examples of the last 20 or so years. It’s a cinch they reached and continue to reach a larger audience than short-wave radio ever could. They feature big stars and important directors. Some were successful at the box-office. Some were Oscar nominees or Oscar winners. Some we even liked!
In the years following Dr. Strangelove: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), it’s been open season for anti-establishment filmmakers. There has been no shortage of films which could be characterized as wildly critical and suspicious of, damning in the most overt, graphic terms, the government of the United States.
Yet this left-leaning distrust has always been termed “healthy” rhetoric. Now the media are currently in hysterics about the new, “right-wing” government paranoia, going so far as to more or less blame talk radio hosts for the bombing in Oklahoma City. “As artisans of the language of vilification, they help create a climate that encourages violence,” according to Barbara Reynolds of USA Today.
No one has more successfully undermined the American people’s trust in their government than Hollywood, yet no one is placing the blame at its doorstep.
I would defend its right to voice its opinions just as I would defend the right of hosts and listeners of talk radio to do so. But to act as if this environment of hate and violence has been created by the “right” is an absurdity. Hating the government has been a left-wing business, no, religion since the ’60s (Clinton’s election changed that somewhat, particularly in the beginning).
Vilification has evolved into an art form, not by the Right but by the Left. The current standard in “hate” talk radio can only be amateurish by comparison.