Monday, 23 December 2013

Hollywood Babble On & On #1103: Be Careful What You Wish For...

I'm sure you've probably heard about Phil Robertson of the A&E Network's flagship reality show Duck Dynasty. The bearded patriarch stated in an interview that he views homosexuality a sin, and while most media outlets said he compared it to bestiality, he actually compared to all sorts of sins, including heterosexual promiscuity, and he also said that the Bible says he had to love all people regardless of their sinning ways.

GLAAD freaked out, A&E panicked, and they suspended Roberston from the show, which will probably lead to its cancellation since the rest of the family won't go on without him, and they don't need A&E to be rich.

Around the same time a minor PR flack named Justine Sacco dropped the sort of tasteless "edgy" joke that a friend reminded me was like something Sarah Silverman gets paid to say on a daily basis.

Over the next 12 hours the joke was picked up by various websites and she was declared public enemy number one, and she lost her job, and probably won't be able to get another one for many, many years.

A little later Steve Martin made a joke on twitter, that, although I never saw it before it was deleted, was interpreted as some as racist. Martin has spent the time since then deleting the tweet, defending himself, and his livelihood, while apologizing profusely for giving anyone any offence.

Now folks are saying that this is a good thing. People must learn that words that offend or hurt the feelings of others have consequences, and that this is not censorship since it doesn't involve government action.

Well, be careful what you wish for, because it's happened before and folks weren't too keen on it when it did happen.

Now you might be furrowing your brow in a feeble attempt to understand, but give me a minute to explain.

The time I'm talking about occurred not that long ago, and has been clouded a lot by myth and misunderstanding.

I'm talking about the Hollywood Blacklist.

Now you might be tempted to say: "Hey, that's different, that was Senator Joe McCarthy, and the US Government doing that, not private citizens!"

And you would be mostly wrong.

In the late 1940s the House Un-American Activities Committee of the US Congress did investigate the leftist political views of people in show business. The Hollywood Ten were jailed for refusing to cooperate but that's not the whole story.

Republican Sen. Joe McCarthy's committee didn't target Hollywood in the way popular imagination claims he did. His bipartisan hearings were over government officials and military personnel working for the "reds," and it was others in the Democrat controlled who held hearings over Hollywood.

However, the government did not order the blacklist. Legally it couldn't enforce any sort of blacklist.

The blacklist was created by private "political action" groups who published pamphlets with titles like Red Channels, that pointed the finger at Hollywood people, and threatened boycotts and public protests shaming the whole corporation as "reds."

The studios, fearing the threatened boycotts and protests, and wanting to survive with a minimum of hassle just went along.

They had too much to lose by not going along.

People lost their livelihoods and had their dreams destroyed because someone declared that something they said, done, or believed in offended them.

Now some may say that it's different, but in reality, it's just window dressing. The folks waving the virtual  torches and pitchforks are saying that they're doing it to combat hate against the LGBT community, ethnic minorities, and other groups. 

That's all well and good, but remember, the publishers of Red Channels thought they were combating the hatred of democracy and the American way of life.

Yes, words have consequences but so does trying to squash words in the name of some political goal, no matter how noble you might think that goal is. 

If you don't like what someone says or believes, you can say that person is an asshole, and refuse to buy their product, or watch their shows. However, when you start demanding that people be fired, taken off the air, or otherwise publicly punished in the virtual stocks for what they said or believe, then you're treading on a thin tightrope. A lot of bad things can happen on a tightrope, you can fall off, it can be cut out from under you, or your enemies can use it to hang you.

So lesson is to pick your battles and be extremely careful what you wish for, because you might just get it, and then some.

And on that upbeat note I bid you all a Merry Christmas.

1 comment:

  1. "How to Serve Man" = cook book.

    McCarthy related movies = How to silence lefty opposition.