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Beckman: What would we do without Hollywood?




By Hank Beckman - 

What would we do without Hollywood?

Not only does the movie and television industry keep us entertained with both its product and the endless spectacle provided by the private lives of some of its stars, it also functions as an early warning system against the imminent arrival of a misogynist, homophobic government.

Sometimes they even win awards for the service.

Elisabeth Moss, who became famous portraying the earnest secretary-turned-copywriter Peggy Olson on "Mad Men", recently won a best actress Emmy for her role in "The Handmaid's Tale," a Hulu series based on Margaret Atwood's dystopian 1985 novel.

I've neither read the book or watched the series, but from the research I've done, the basic premise of the series is that a Puritan-like religious sect has overthrown the government of the United States and installed a theocratic dictatorship where women are essentially stripped of all rights. They aren't allowed to work outside the home, have access to money and only a few are even permitted to read and or write.

Apparently there is a falling birth rate, so a select few of the women are forced to bear children for the barren elite running Gilead. Homosexuality is against the law–gay people are "gender traitors"–and one female character is forced to undergo female genital mutilation as punishment.

Moss has indicated in interviews that people should know how relevant the show is to the current political climate.

In one interview, she said, "When everyone signed on, it felt incredibly relevant…I think it's just in this country, there's a relevance now that is striking everybody."

And in case anyone missed her point, in another interview she noted of President Trump that, "He just keeps stepping into it." What he keeps stepping in is unclear, but whatever it is, it certainly frightens her.

Not to be outdone in apocalyptic predictions, Hollywood director Joss Whedon warned that gay people are in serious danger in the United States. He responded on Twitter to reports out of Russia about the Chechen authorities repression of gays, including detaining and even murdering them, with the dire warning "This is harrowing and it's where we're headed if we don't unite and act."

Like Moss, he wasn't very specific, but you get the feeling he's not exactly a fan of the sitting president.

Cher tweeted "Because trump's in White House PPL OF COLOR & LGBT CAN NEVER FEEL SAFE IN THEIR OWN "American flag."

Screen Shot 2017-10-04 at 12.50.23 PM

Actress Jennifer Lawrence opined that "This country was founded on immigration and today the only people that feel safe, that their rights are recognized and respected are white men." And director Judd Apatow, poor thing, is just petrified. After the election he said "I feel like I just got raped and I just don't know if I'm going to get murdered."

Do these people live in the same country as the rest of us? Do they understand that they are speaking out loud and that normal people can hear them or read their opinions?

Have they not heard that there have been people who have lost their livelihoods merely for expressing opposition to same sex marriage? Various vendors have been successfully sued and fined for refusing for religious reasons to provide services for same sex marriage ceremonies.

Young men in college, many of them white males, have been denied due process and had their lives all but ruined by sexual assault allegations that wouldn't stand a chance of even securing a criminal indictment, much less a guilty verdict in a court of law.

Does this sound like a country likely to turn into a fundamentalist patriarchy anytime soon?

What is needed for some of these people is not the "resistance" they've been calling for, but the services of competent mental health professionals. Or at least public relations experts who might advise Whedon that there is a better chance that he will direct a movie without comic book characters than gay people being round up by the government; to suggest otherwise makes him sound unacquainted with reality.

Even allowing for the fact that there a few groups on the far right fringe that might advocate the murder of gay people and using women as broodmares for the religious elite, none of them have the slightest chance of attaining any significant power in this country.

Despite how a generally liberal media sometimes depicts some of the people connected to the administration as "alt-right" or white nationalists, no fundamentalist group resembling the elite of Gilead has a pipeline into the Trump White House.

No policy proposal from this administration–not the temporary travel ban from seven Muslim nations, not the end of DACA, not even the proposed ban on transgenders serving in the military–can be interpreted by any sane person as a precursor to any government resembling the one depicted in the "Handmaid's Tale." That leap of faith is strictly a product of the Hollywood Left's paranoid fantasies.

Shrewdly anticipating that many might find the concept of a powerful Christian sect this extreme a little far-fetched, Atwood indicated in one interview that she only used Christianity for her fantasy nightmare because it is so fundamental to the country's history. According to her, other philosophies, like communism or Islam, would never stand a chance of gaining power.

But even as she notes that people in this country have legal rights to protect us against rampaging Christians, she makes it clear that danger sill lurks, saying, "let's just say it's an anti-prediction. If this future can be described in detail, maybe it won't happen. But such wishful thinking can't be depended on either."

To be fair, there is evidence that the atrocities depicted in the series are part of the modern world.

Reed Morano, director of the first three episodes of the series, points out that "everything in the book has happened or is happening somewhere in the world right now and that's how it was when Margaret (Atwood) wrote it."

She has a point. There are indeed places where gay people are suffering extreme persecution. Some countries outlaw homosexuality and others are so homophobic that gay people have been tossed off the roofs of high rise buildings to drive home the point. At least 10 countries retain the death penalty as an option for punishing homosexual behavior.

Some women are forced to endure female genital mutilation by patriarchal fundamentalists; recent news out of Michigan shows that it can even happen on the United States.

And there is a religion associated with these recent atrocities, but it is one that is rarely criticized by the Hollywood Left.

If one of the people warning about the dark night of fascism to come under Donald Trump would be so bold as to occasionally name that religion when lecturing the rest of us about intolerance, that person might have a chance to be taken seriously.


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  1. Hollywood is a fairyland’, a “wonderland” filled with people who live in a fantasy world they created. Unfortunately, they believe what they do is a form of reality.
    Many actors fit the old question: “Is the glass half empty or half full?”
    Imagine a glass full of orange juice. You can’t see through it. That is the actor when he is performing a movie or TV role.
    Now imagine the glass EMPTY. This is the actor when drained of any role to play. You can see right through it, because there is no “there” there. They are hollow, empty people, just as the glass is now hollow and empty.
    These people know they are living the high life, well paid, doing something absolutely unnecessary to the benefit of anyone but themselves. They have a guilt complex over this, so they must grab onto some crackpot cause and use their celebrity status to promote it to justify their own hollow existence.
    Do you remember Meryl Streep and the ALAR apple controversy, and how her ill-informed crackpot statements almost destroyed one year’s apple harvest?