Early in his career, Jon Voight must have been stationed somewhere on the far left of the Hollywood crowd. When he came up to Dartmouth in the spring of 1970 for a showing of “The Revolutionary,” he clearly identified with the film’s hero. In the question-and-answer session following the showing of the film, Voight explained in all seriousness that we should know “the revolution” was going to begin in Washington on November 15. Voight’s radicalism was obviously no impediment to his livelihood. Indeed, it may well have facilitated a career of great prominence and distinction, including an Academy Award for his performance in “Coming Home.”
Voight’s career withstood his foolish radicalism, but his turn to patriotism and the middle of the road has raised a red flag, so to speak, in Hollywood. In his Washington Times column condemning Barack Obama, Voight speaks from his own experience:
The Democrats have targeted young people, knowing how easy it is to bring forth whatever is needed to program their minds. I know this process well. I was caught up in the hysteria during the Vietnam era, which was brought about through Marxist propaganda underlying the so-called peace movement.
Such testimony is not appreciated in Hollywood, where it has elicited a remarkable column by Jeffrey Wells. Wells comments:
[I]t’s only natural that industry-based Obama supporters will henceforth regard him askance. Honestly? If I were a producer and I had to make a casting decision about hiring Voight or some older actor who hadn’t pissed me off with an idiotic Washington Times op-ed piece, I might very well say to myself, “Voight? Let him eat cake.”
What’s going on here? Roger Simon explores the phenomenon in “Hollywood’s new blacklist,” an excerpt from his forthcoming book. My friend Andrew Breitbart calls on the experience of his father-in-law Orson Bean to elucidate the phenomenon in “Blacklist then and now.” Bean is a former Communist and current conservative, and he has suffered under both the old and new regimes in Hollywood. Andrew has previously cited Bean’s testimony for the proposition it’s harder now to be an open conservative on a Hollywood set now than it was to be a Communist in the 1950’s. In his Washington Times column this week, Andrew quotes Bean:
“When the blacklist hit, I saw actors walk across the street to avoid me. The doorman at 485 Madison Avenue (former CBS headquarters) turned his back as I walked by. But I never felt hated by the ring-wing blacklisters. They just felt we were terribly wrong,” he said.
“These days, the left doesn’t just disagree with right-wingers – they hate them. People actually shudder when I tell them I’m a Republican. I should have to carry a bell and yell, ‘unclean.’ It doesn’t bother me, though. I’ve been on both ends. Being hated is like voodoo. It only works if you feel hated. And I just won’t. I know it will pass.”
I don’t know how Jon Voight feels, but Jeffrey Wells seems representative of the current Hollywood state of mind described by Bean.
JOHN adds: Jeffrey Wells tries to respond to our post here. It’s fair to say that he backpedals:
I was just being honest about how I might theoretically react if I was in a position to hire or not hire Voight — big deal. That’s several football fields away from suggesting or even implying that producers should band together and deny employment to Voight because he wrote an idiotic op-ed piece.
Actually, Scott didn’t say anything about producers “banding together” to deny employment to Voight. As Wells himself wrote:
[I]t’s only natural that industry-based Obama supporters will henceforth regard him askance.
I don’t think that message could get a whole lot clearer.
SCOTT adds: Mickey Kaus quotes Wells in the comments section of his column:
It’s been said in this town many times that the right has a debt to pay for the blacklisting of lefties in the ’50s, and that in all fairness it’s probably going to take a long time to make amends. The fact is that the philosophical grandfathers and great-grandfathers of today’s right-wingers ruined the lives of many Hollywood screenwriters in the ’50s, and so their descendants now have to suffer and make up for that. Simple. As you sew [sic] so shall you reap. He who lives by the sword shall die by the sword.
As John says, the message couldn’t get much clearer (or cruder).
JOHN adds: Or stupider. What on God’s green earth does Jon Voight have to do with the 1950s blacklist? This guy is an idiot.