Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Propaganda: Hollywood

“Won’t Back Down” is an excellent movie that dramatizes what’s wrong with American public education today. Top acting, with Academy Award nominee Maggie Gyllenhaal as a working-class single mom, Academy Award nominee Viola Davis as a beaten-down-by-the-system teacher, and Academy Award winner Holly Hunter as a teachers’ union official with a heart. A story that personalizes the facts behind the highly-respected documentary “Waiting for ‘Superman’” by focusing on a fictional single, inner-city school in Pittsburgh. And does so with well-rounded, believable characters.

It’s a tough film subject for Democrats, to be sure. The cause the movie champions pits liberals who truly care about improving dead-end public schools against the teachers unions and their politician friends who tenaciously preserve the status quo. An example of a liberal education reformer is Davis Guggenheim, the documentarian who made “An Inconvenient Truth” about Al Gore’s fight against global warming before taking on education reform in “Waiting for ‘Superman.’” One would think the liberal critics who tolerated “Waiting for ‘Superman’” would at least give “Won’t Back Down” a fair shake.

One would be wrong. Critics are overwhelmingly scorching “Won’t Back Down.” Mary Pols in TIME calls it “cheesy, wholly manipulative. . .blatantly political and intended as much more than pure entertainment,” that turns the teachers union “into public school enemy number one.”

What? A movie pushing a cause? How could that be?

Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times similarly writes the movie is “shamelessly manipulative and hopelessly bogus” and “has no hesitation about creating a villain for all seasons: teachers unions” (Turan’s review even quotes American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten calling one film claim "an egregious lie.") Turan’s advice: “Anyone who values their one and only life would be well-advised not to spend two hours of it here.”

Ella Taylor of NPR brands the movie “a propaganda piece with blame on its mind,” [emphasis mine] and adds (thank you, Ms. Taylor, for this gratuitous warning) that if we replaced unions “with a rainbow coalition of local parents and educators coming together to create the kind of school they want, the result would be chaos, not to mention an end to the tattered remains of our common culture.” Like Turan, Taylor has gone beyond a movie review’s normal scope to tell us the movie’s producer, Philip Anschutz, funds creationist curricula in schools (according to Anschutz’s Wikipedia entry, that’s not true).

For more movie critic attacks on “Won’t Back Down,” please go here. “Metacritic’s” overall rating for the film is a low 42, and “Rotten Tomatoes’” critics rate it 32, definitely rotten. Even though the audience at both sites likes the movie, “Won’t Back Down” is bombing at the box office, making only $5.1 million in its first 3 weeks. The critics have won.

Hollywood and the establishment rabidly oppose conservative movie messages the same way they oppose conservative blacks (Clarence Thomas) and women (Sarah Palin). It’s blasphemy to use a movie to advance a conservative cause. As we have argued, movies are the establishment’s Bible, pushing national behavior and culture down the correct liberal path. Deliberately departing from that path is akin to burning the Quran.

It’s all so sad.  Sooner or later, someday, Democrats will take on the teachers unions and provide poor students what they so desperately need--an alternative to no-choice bad schools. Obviously that day has yet to arrive.

In the meantime, Matthew Continetti at the conservative “Washington Free Beacon” has found an example of how the Washington establishment corruptly rewards its Hollywood friends:
Hollywood. . . benefits from complicated tax expenditures for film and television production. No one personifies the rotten relationship between Hollywood and the Obama administration better than DreamWorks SKG executive Jeffrey Katzenberg, one of the largest donors to Priorities USA, who has raised at least $6.6 million for the president since 2008. Katzenberg relied heavily on his ingénue in the White House to secure a lucrative distribution deal on behalf of the MPAA, Hollywood’s trade association—a deal that was personally negotiated between Vice President Biden and incoming Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Soon came under SEC scrutiny. Shortly after the distribution deal was announced, DreamWorks Animation unveiled plans to build a $350 million animation studio in China; according to the New York Times DreamWorks’ partner in the deal is “Jiang Mianheng, the 61-year-old son of Jiang Zemin, the former Communist Party leader and the most powerful political kingmaker of China’s last two decades.”

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