Monday, December 24, 2012

Hollywood Gone Bad

“your television . . . is mainly transmitting an ethos in which greed is not only bad but the main wellspring of evil, authority figures of all kinds are often untrustworthy, sexual freedom is absolute, and social equality of all kinds is paramount. Within the moral universe of this culture, the merits of these values are self-evident.”

 --Jonathan Chait, New York

“Hollywood,” the term, also includes the major television networks and their programming, as well as independent movie and TV studios. “Hollywood” propagates a unified cultural alternative to the traditional, Judeo-Christian ethic favored by conservatives.

How did this happen? As Johathan Chait noted, “Hollywood was founded by Jewish immigrants who lived in terror that their Jewishness would make conservative America suspect them of abusing their cultural power.” That “Hollywood” gave up on traditional values around the time of Kennedy’s 1963 assassination--the early Mad Men years.

In truth, Hollywood smoldered through the 1950s. Many in the older generation were unhappy about friends taken down in late ‘40s early ‘50s anti-Communist witch hunts. Younger Hollywood writers were fed up with the clamps their elders had placed on sex and violence, along with forced traditional religious piety and patriotic themes. Inherit the Wind, a direct attack on Christian conservatives and starring respected one-time Boys Town (1938) priest Spencer Tracy, came out as a movie in 1960, five long years after the Broadway play, but in time to usher in Hollywood’s new decade.

The 1960 Oscars proved a watershed for sex in Hollywood. The Apartment, with Jack Lemmon facilitating Shirley MacLaine’s affair with a married man, won best picture and best director, wayward evangelist Burt Lancaster won best actor for corrupting best supporting actress Shirley Jones in Elmer Gantry, and Elizabeth Taylor won best actress for playing a prostitute in Butterfield 8.

These movies, however, were mild compared to what followed--Dr. Strangelove (1964, anti-authority), Darling (1965, free love), Alfie and Blow-Up (1966, free love), Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966, filthy language), The Graduate (1967, anti-authority, anti-marriage), Bonnie and Clyde (1967, extreme violence), Midnight Cowboy (1969, raw sex, violence, “X” rated Oscar winner), The Wild Bunch (1969, extreme violence), Easy Rider (1969, anti-authority).

The 1960s. As country club, white Protestant males lost national control to anti-Vietnam demonstrations and the civil rights movement, Hollywood’s previously suppressed resentment of the dominant culture exploded. Hollywood was a big part of the ensuing rebellion, emerging on the winning side in the 1970s, the decade women also claimed their rightful place in America. Hollywood’s counter culture in the process became the culture we know today--coarse, violent, committed to level equality (“justice”), anti-authority, anti-business (anti-“greed”), anti-church, anti-white male, anti-marriage-based family.

At Christmas, many long for a lost culture that encouraged sacrifice and hard work, faith, good teachers, homework, part-time jobs, graduation, employment, marriage and family, a culture that honored success. They resent the culture Hollywood has given us; they hope for something better.

Peace on earth, peace that begins with faith, hope, and love, family, work, community, and (yes) country, peace built upon equal opportunity, not forced equality.

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