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On Roger Simon & the Lost Idealism of the Angry Left

As I noted in my previous post, I just finished Roger Simon’s book, Blacklisting Myself: Memoir of a Hollywood Apostate in the Age of Terror, which I quite enjoyed, particularly the last three-quarters.

Now, I gotta admit, I’m not sure I could write an entirely unbiased review of the book.  First, I have met Roger and really quite like him.  He has this avuncular personality, indeed, he could pass as my Dad’s precocious younger brother.  The second reason is that, particularly in the last quarter of the book (the very best part in my view), Roger writes about something which has fascinated me throughout my adult life, the bloody crossroads where, to paraphrase Lionel Trilling, politics and literature and/or cinema meet.

Unlike Roger who came to embrace conservative ideas after achieving success in Hollywood (he was nominated for an Academy Award for his script Enemies:  A Love Story), I came to Hollywood seeking success after having long embraced conservative ideas.  (Yet, up until the 2004 election, the first where Roger voted Republican for president, I remained pretty closeted about my politics with my friends in (and aspiring to be in) the entertainment industry.)

While I liked this book and found it difficult to put it down at the end (even taking it to the gym so I could read it on various cardio machines), I did have some problems with it.  The first chapter seemed forced, as if he felt he needed to paste it on as a kind of prologue.  And the book really didn’t start going until Roger describes his meeting with the late comedian Richard Pryor (Roger wrote the script for Pryor’s 1981 hit Bustin’ Loose).  At that point, the book takes off and doesn’t let up.

In this, the meat of his memoir, Roger describes the clash of egos which defines Hollywood politics, his fascination with the emerging media of online communication, his various romances and travels and, most importantly, his political odyssey.

For those of who have wanted to break into Hollywood, his story cautions us.  Maybe it’s not worth the effort, given the games we’d have to play once we succeeded and those which would continually be played around us.

As he describes his evolution as an “accidental online apostate CEO,” he shares stories familiar to many right-of-center bloggers:

I was attacked on a daily basis on websites across the world, reviled by people who once had adored–or at least admired–me, and received more hate mail than I could ever have imagined.  I also felt ostracized by the Hollywood community in which I’d made my life.

Without his realizing it, his blog “had begun to take up most of [his] writing time.” Hmmm . . . .

His political transformation, like that of Endora-winning blogress Tammy Bruce, began in earnest with the OJ trial.

Perhaps because of his gay son, Roger has shown a special sensitivity to gay issues. He recognizes the “rapidity” with which societal attitudes towards gay people have changed and that Islamism, as he puts it, “is the world’s greatest enemy of gay and women’s rights.”

Should I have time this week, I’d like to address in greater depth some of the things Roger writes about his own transformation and the prevailing ethos in Hollywood, but want to focus today on what he says about the anger of the conservative-hating left. I think he’s onto something in attributing their rage to their lost idealism in the wake of the attacks of 9/11:

. . . in those slow motion moments when the 767s crashed into the World Trade Center, everything switched around. The cool guys in school were no longer the cool guys One clique–the alliance of lefties, hippies-cum-yuppies, the liberal media, and showbiz types–moved out, and some admittedly semi-stodgy ex-Scoop Jackson policy wonks moved in.

Perhaps, that’s the reason so many on the Hollywood left, as Roger puts it, “evinced little knowledge of subject matter, particularly about Islam.”  To see the hatred of the most extreme sects of that faith, those willing and eager to use terror to spread their doctrine represents an affront to the left’s idealism, their belief that all we need do to heal the world is to change America.

But, we need do more than change America, we need also to reassert its values to confront the evil that challenges our freedom, including producing the kinds of films that Roger once helped make.  But, in becoming a champion of American assertiveness in the Age of Terror, Roger L. Simon has become a pariah in an industry where he once succeeded.  In embracing conservative ideas, he blacklisted himself.

And his story about that journey is quite a good read, particularly for those of us who have stood at the bloody crossroads.

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3 Comments

  1. the anger of the conservative-hating left…. lost idealism in the wake of the attacks of 9/11:

    [Simon] …in those slow motion moments when the 767s crashed into the World Trade Center, everything switched around. The cool guys in school were no longer the cool guys…

    Can we make this even more pointed? 9-11 made the *military* guys “the cool guys”. And the enraged Left has been trying to take it back ever since. Hence their constant moral preening; their over-the-top insistence that their new, dorky and woefully incompetent Dear Leader is cool; etc.

    A huge part of the modern American Left is about anti-military values. Look at where the “Sixties” hippie generation began – the generation who now control the media and make it serve the Democratic far Left. They wanted to avoid military service. And to rationalize their own avoidance of military service. Secretly fearing or knowing themselves to be only partly right^^ at best, they are driven (by their stance) to denigrate military service per se. They desperately *need* to believe that military service is (a) unnecessary; (b) stupid – i.e., only stupid people would or could do it; and (c) psychotic – i.e., profoundly wrong, and something that only psychos do and that turns you into a psycho, if you do it. 9-11 exposed all that as false. And so they’ve been trying to return/lull themselves back into a 9-10 mentality, ever since. All of their military and foreign policy discourse, for the last 6-7 years, has been structured around that goal.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — March 1, 2009 @ 8:11 pm - March 1, 2009

  2. (^^ Phrased in that way, because I do credit the 60s generation for being *partly* right in resisting their Vietnam military service. Thanks to Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson, Vietnam was a horribly bungled war, with a U.S. death toll far higher than it needed to be… and, not coincidentally, it was a war fought with a draft. Drafts are immoral. If a war can’t be fought with a volunteer military, it shouldn’t be fought. Drafts are worth resisting. WW2 had a draft, but its draft was very likely unnecessary: men were volunteering en masse. Contrary to myth, the goal of the Vietnam War was noble and right, as much as WW2 was. But the execution of it was wrong, including its having a draft. It took a Republican President, Richard M. Nixon, to end both the Vietnam War and the draft; he did the right things, there.)

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — March 1, 2009 @ 8:17 pm - March 1, 2009

  3. “[accusatios of self-loating is] a pretty prejudiced attitude toward minorities as it assumes individual members of those groups can’t think for themselves.”

    True, but the wording isn’t strong enough to describe just how cowardly and hateful that accusation (among others) really is.

    It is RACIST STEREOTYPING, and not in the “I disagree with that guy so he’s a racist” way that’s so overused by the left it’s become meaningless whenever they use the term, but in the “I deeply and truly believe that a person’s ethnic background determines AND LIMITS who and what they are and can be,” kind of way.

    The fact that it’s racism will never occur to anyone on the left as they are attributing “good” qualities to the ethnic group in question, “They think like me, or they should, and everything I believe is correct, therefore ‘we’ are both good and just.”

    Disparaging a person, singled out by their ethnicity, for disagreeing isn’t “racism,” it’s concern, or at least pointing out that, there must be something wrong with them.

    In other words, they are disparaging people, singled out by their ethnicity, because they do not fit the racist stereotype these people have in their heads! It’s sickening.

    Comment by DoorHold — March 2, 2009 @ 3:39 pm - March 2, 2009

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