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.Â First, I have met Roger and really quite like him.Â He has this avuncular personality, indeed, he could pass as my Dad’s precocious younger brother.Â 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:Â A Love Story), I came to Hollywood seeking success after having long embraced conservative ideas.Â (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.Â The first chapter seemed forced, as if he felt he needed to paste it on as a kind of prologue.Â 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).Â 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.Â 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.Â 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.”Â 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.Â 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.Â 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.