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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  January 15, 2012 12:15am-1:30am EST

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same time when the fbi does something right i say that. for example that is why we have not been attacked since 9/11. the fbi -- it is the myth that the fbi cannot function as an intelligence agency that develops clues and leads to future plots. that is now the main priority of the fbi. >> the most recent book by ron kessler, "the secrets of the fbi." >> and now a panel presents a history of politics in the film industry examining the impact that hollywood has played on the american political landscape. >> good evening and welcome to the central library. it's a pleasure to see you tonight for discussion of hollywood's left and right, and
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distinguished panel with us here. i will be introducing them any moment. i movie simon and the curator for aloud in the culture programs director for the library foundation of los angeles which presents all of these three allowed her grants. some of your members of the library foundation. we want to thank you. the library foundation presents over almost 80, 90 aloud programs a year plus literacy programs, teen reading programs and if you're interested in becoming a member in supporting the great work of the los angeles public library, please see one of our staff members tonight and if you joined we also have one of steve ross' book we can give you. i am sure he will sign it for you if you joined at the 100-dollar levels night and we really appreciate your support. it goes to a really great pop -- cause. format is a panel discussion. after our panelists chew this over we will open it up to you for questions and we will be circulating a microphone. we ask when you receive it to,
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and weight till you do receive it because we record for podcast, to please stand up so we can see where you are and please make it a question. in fact someone recently challenged the audience, see if you can make your question in eight words or less. no one has yet risen to the challenge but feel free. no rants, please. afterwards, our guests, some of them will be signing their books in the lobby courtesy of our library store. so tonight we are going to discuss what is hollywood's influence on american politics. most americans who pay attention to politics believe hollywood's political influence in american life and culture is heavily weighted on the left but in his terrific new book, "hollywood left and right" film historian stephen j. ross begs to differ. he believes the evidence shows while the hollywood left and the political glitz exercises like
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tor tourer power. oversight -- was at the hollywood right with factors like schwarzenegger, nearly seamless transition from action blog buster to the governor's mansion or was it the hollywood left which follows marlon brando's observation that actors can sell deodorants they can sell ideas especially when the moviegoers political guard is down. so our panel tonight will continue to open up that conversation about the intersection of hollywood and political activism. so our panel consists of stephen j. ross who is an eminent film historian and professor of history. he has written several books including working-class hollywood the silent films in the shaping of class in america which was an l.a. times best book of 1998 and his new book, hollywood left and right, how movie stars shaped american politics received the academy of motion picture arts and science film scholar award, the academic equivalent of an oscar.
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but you don't have one for your mental quite yet writes steve? mike farrell is known for his eight years on -- in five seasons on providence and also a writer director and producer and well-known human rights activist to traveled the world for the last 30 years as part of prominent international human rights delegations. he is now working to abolish the death penalty in our state. he helped establish the california committee. [applause] human rights watch and his opposition to the war in iraq resulted in his cofounding artists united to win without war. he is the author of just call me mike, two books including just call me mike a journey to activists and actors and -- roger l. simon is the local author of 10 novels and seven screenplays including the prize-winning detective series and below this story which he was nominated academy war. he published his first
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nonfiction book, blacklisting myself, memoir of the hollywood apostate in the age of terror which was recently republished. the perils of coming out conservative in hollywood. and our distinguished moderator is allen taylor, wonderful film critic, a book reviewer and feature writer. she is the author of television culture and post-war america. she is written for village voice media and i know you have read here for your in the los angeles weekly, the "l.a. times," elle magazine and many other publications and she was the regular country better to l.a. weekly film review show, family. please welcome our panel and take it away ella, hollywood left and right. [applause] >> let me take off from what luis said, if not the most significant finding them one of the most significant findings of
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your loved. conservatives have always been a robust and i think you are giving your book perhaps a more effective presence in hollywood than the left even though the popular contention of the left is a bunch of commie loving pinkos. you say that is not the case. >> right, luis knows i can't get it under 800 words. i will read a paragraph where i lay out the thesis more elegantly maybe then i could offhand. it talks about the fbi starting the investigation of radicals in hollywood as early as 1918. j. edgar hoover had his agents trailing people making radical films at the time and such fears about radicalism in the movie industry reflect long-standing conventional wisdom that
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hollywood has always been a bastion of the political left. conventional wisdom however is wrong on two counts. first, hollywood has a longer history of conservativism then liberalism. it was the republican party, not the democratic hardy, that established the first political beachhead in hollywood. second and far more surprising, although the hollywood left has been more numerous and visible the hollywood right, led by louis b. mayer, george murphy, ronald reagan, charlton heston and arnold schwarzenegger has had a greater impact on american political life. the hollywood left has been more effective in publicizing and raising funds for various causes, but if we ask who has done more to change the american government, the answer is the hollywood right. the hollywood left has the political glitz but that hollywood right sock, one and exercised electoral power.
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>> would you agree with that? >> more or less, yeah i do. when i say i am on the right, i'm not really on the right socially at all. as far as marriage and issues like that i don't care who marries. i'm a complete social liberal but coming to your point, i think it's true but if you withdrew ronald reagan from the equation, i'm i am not sure it would be so true because the only one of those people who has real, and mean schwarzenegger was a second-rate governor and achieved almost nothing. he was a second-rate actor too. >> i would agree. [laughter] that reagan was a very successful president. you may agree or not agree. i think he did some great things. he tore down that wall and so
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that had, you don't think that was a great thing? inquiring minds may differ but he did have, he did have tremendous impact. i don't think the other people had quite -- what i'm saying is i agree with you but if you withdrew reagan from that equation -- >> that is why as the historian here i say ronald reagan would not have been ronald reagan without louis d. mayor and george murphy and frankly the biggest surprise for me doing the research was everything ronald reagan did george murphy did earlier. he was was the chirp pioneer and figuring out media, how to use media and particularly television. he perfected the reagan strategy of going for lieu, discontent blue-collar democrats and 64 and what murphy learnedlearns, he learned from louis d. mayor, so
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there really is, reagan was simply the best of all of them. there is no question about it. ronald reagan was the master performer but his conversion to the right, which i talk about in the book from those of you who may not know his past, both george murphy who is our senator in 1964 and reagan, where liberal new deal democrats when they first entered hollywood. and murphy converted around 38 republican conservatives. reagan ended world war ii as he writes in his autobiography is a bleeding heart liberal and was in fact in many of the organizations that people were blacklisted for. but for a series of reasons, he slowly began a movement from liberal democrat to liberal anti-communist democrat to conservative anti-communist republican, and it was in part
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his long-term friendship with murphy, who they were very good social friends as well as political friends that slowly change them and push them that way. so i think you really do need to see a continuum because the one thing they all have in common is they were far more effective with their democratic counterparts in understanding how to reach a mass audience and they understood that voters were no different than movie audiences. you had to have a concept to sell and you have to sell it well. and if you could reach them with your concept, you could win an election. >> let me ask you one question to follow up on that because this has already -- always interested me. i know this is the same thing, not being a historian but being in film. i was thinking about it a lot because back in the early '90s i was teaching sundance. i met robert redford and spend
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time with him and also warren beatty. i have no beatty over the years and these are two liberal democrats who have always, people have said one of a going to run for the senate? of course neither of them did and i think it's highly unlikely either of them are going to do it now but would you think it is that stops them other than they would take a pay deduction of astronomical amounts? from doing its? >> it? >> abuse. warren beatty said to me i don't want to take the abuse. when i am a movie actor i am adored by and large. >> that is cowardly and a way. >> is on this. do you want to take the abuse? do you want to open your mouth and whatever you say is going to be twisted around? 34% of the american population does not approve of michelle obama. they don't know what they're
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talking about. how many of us know michelle obama and you are going to say you don't approve? that kind of abuse but you can take it on the right as well. it happens on both sides but i think it's curious that those conservatives for whatever reason, they got the abuse. everyone gets the abuse in politics. it's a horrible profession and i would not go near it. it is so completely so that these republicans were willing to take the abuse and the liberals didn't. >> i think you have to have a burning passion in your gut. i think you just have to have that passion for politics in your gut and you are going to it happen. i will say, one of the things i argue in this book is i admire all 10 of these people, whether i agree with her politics are not. do you want to talk about what a patriot is? a patriot is somebody who takes their bleeped out, whether it's for the war, against the war,
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where he left cause or aright craws -- cause and is willing to spend 10, 2030 years fighting for their cause and taking the abuse. that is somebody i admire and that is what what i founded writing this book. i did not want to write a book about, my own politics as is to the left but to write a book that the left was good and the right was bad was a waste of my time writing it. i wanted to write about people who i actually voted mayor, can whether i agree with her politics are not. i ate my their commitment to try to make america a better place. >> apropos of abuse and maybe passion in their death but it's also a thick skin, apropos of what mike said about schwarzenegger. i remember when he was first elected governor and i saw him on tv and an admirer said to him, hope you make as good a governor as you are an actor. his response to that was, oh don't be mean.
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now i have to say i don't think warren beatty could have carried that moment and it may be one reason why schwarzenegger is so successful at least in achieving a political position. one of the things that interest me as the former european is the definition of left and right, which is totally unique in america as a whole. and even more unique in hollywood. i grew up into countries where the word liberal can noted wishy-washy centrists, whereas and then i write here and i found liberal somehow puts you way far to the left of center. it seems to be that peculiarities of american politics, not the same in europe or the middle east where i grew up. and what is the working definition of left and right in hollywood?
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there are very few people who white identify as marxists for example. even michael moore who i spent a couple of days with when i wrote the cover story about him really balks when i word -- use the word socialism or certainly doesn't identify as a marxist at all. candidly so because they think that would alienate people so the long shadow of the blacklist and the hollywood -- >> this is interesting because i did identify as a marxist, certainly no longer but when i was a student and later on, i was a member of the new left at that point. i was publicly marxist and i had no trouble getting work. in fact, quite the reverse. >> in hollywood? >> in hollywood as a screenwriter and quite the reverse. it was fascinating and people were fascinated with me. this was the post blacklist period of course. this was the late 60s, 68
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through 72. at that point in my life would i was a very guilty leftist and i paid a lot of money when i was a young hollywood screenwriter. very lucky, purely lucky so i felt guilty about it and i gave a lot of money. so i was a financier of the black panthers. i was 25. so, and it had no effect negatively on my career at all and as a matter fact i would go to william morris who thought it was really cool. hey, roger does that. so the whole thing had changed and it had become trendy to do that. >> what year was this roughly? >> 69, 70, 71, that period when the panthers were around. i was very naïve. i didn't know that huey was a drug dealer until a new him. i mean i think, i am the case of
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the same line of church hill about being left in your 20s you have no hard and right in your 30s, you have no brain. >> it was from too much sigar smoke. >> it also had to do with the fact that nobody lived past 40. >> mike, do you have anything to say about that? you spent many years on the hollywood left. how would you identify it? >> i don't. i think that it is pretty much a creature of those people who observe rather than those people who participate. but i would take a couple of -- issue with a couple of things that have been said. i don't disagree that the right in hollywood has been more effective electoral he, but i would suggest -- suspect if you want to make that division the
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left has been more effective socially in terms of having an effect on the culture and i think that is personally far more significant than the rack their rack the right is made of our nation argue perhaps that is not so correct. and i would argue as well, let me say that i think you succeeded admirably in making an even-handed book about the left and the right without favoring or disfavoring one side or the other which i thought was really quite impressive. i disagreed with i think both of you about ronald reagan. no question he was a terribly effective, his presidency was terribly effective but i think his presidency was more the product of general electric and lee atwater and the people who were behind him and around him and telling him what to say, due
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in think than he was as a thinker and/or a mover on fee, and the political world. >> i used to think that too. i read his diary. have you read them? he also thought about it himself. >> i wouldn't say completely but -- >> actually his diaries are rather well-written. most of our politicians cannot write at all so it's rather surprising actually. >> i would also disagree with you a little bit on that mike. i'm no fan of ronald reagan politically but in the course of writing this i came to, i came to the idea that he was just a puppet because i talk to people who worked on his campaign who worked very early on in 64 and what they said was reagan would sit down and they would tell him, he would meet with his group and the speechwriters and
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tell them what he wanted in his speech and they would then write a draft of a speech. he would come back and edit it very carefully and they would often go out and speak without notes. one thing they discovered was he had a photographic memory so it was one of the reasons he could pull off his lines. he rarely had to do a second shoot. i had a graduate student years ago before some of the new reagan books came out, went to the reagan library and did a research paper on a star wars speech. what he discovered was reagan, he went through the various drafts and found reagan's handwriting over everything. this was the speech, he set out to its writers and when they came back he wrote -- rewrote everything in his own handwriting. he is no mentor, but he understood how to take -- the line i have here is you know he was not the intellectual leader. the intellectual leader of the conservative movement in 64
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through 68 would have been very goldwater and william buckley. but what reagan did, people would not vote for barry goldwater because he was a scary figure. i look out over the audience and i think some of you remember the 1964 daisy commercial, the little child pulling the leaves off of the daisies and the atomic bomb going off and then basically saying, do you want barry goldwater as your president? ronald reagan's greatest contribution is by making conservativism palatable, he made the conservative revolution possible. and he had ideas. >> i don't disagree with that but i don't think, granted i don't think he was the electoral genius that people suggest he is. >> no because he was also -- >> but i think further he was a true believer and a sense of kind of fear some approach to the world that i think has been
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very destructive, and that to me does not argue for a great intellectual breadth or depth. i have occasion to be in central america and number times during the reagan administration when there was very clearly a kind of anti-communist bail that was laid over what was clearly a humane and humanitarian, humanitarian is the wrong word but a civil war, not at all based on communism versus democracy but based on people's need to have a life that was meaningful in the face of horrific oppression. reagan and his administration continue to perceive it in this hideously black-and-white manner that justified all kinds of human rights violations. and i remember coming back after he made this incredible
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statement about the case of the anti-revolutionary forces in nicaragua being equal to the founding fathers of this country. and i had the occasion to have lunch with his daughter, and said to her look, what your father is saying is simply not true. my concern is either she doesn't understand that it's not true and continues to believe to this stuff because he is being told to say it or he is a liar. and she said he is surrounded by people who have very strict and very thick ideological perspective and they keep him very well hemmed in that regard, and i found that to be very sad. i guess it's not unusual with our leaders to be hemmed in and need protected from experiencing reality, but i found that to be not only very sad but very
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destructive of the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in central america alone. >> both of you have articulated steven in your book you said something similar to the mic that the right has been very successful at getting candidates elected, whereas the left has had much more of an impact on the culture. can you be a bit more specific about the impact and what areas are we talking about? >> i'm not going to suggest that it's all positive, the left or the right. the american culture has been spread throughout the world as a result of our explosion of motion pictures and television and what have you. but i think, i am with clarence darrow who said that sympathy is that childhood of imagination. i think people with imagination are capable of walking in someone else's shoes and as a result of that there is a
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tendency to, and i see it more in the left, perhaps as on is on the right as well, to be open to others, to be aware of other points of view, to be respectful of other points of view. and i think that is remediated to some significant degree to the stories that have cut out of the motion picture and television industries. before special effects and bombing, killing and raping and murdering became the story of the day, so today, i am not sure that is the case but i still think that people respond to the kind of human perspective that has put out in much of the work that some people will consider would consider the left hollywood liberal sort of message. >> but, i think the left right for larry which the mainstream
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level has reflected as the difference between a democrat and a republican is somewhat up or grabs right now, that hope heckscher. left and right is changing very much. he was against proposition 8 and people being able to marry whoever they well please. >> you is something as a libertarian as am i. people, libertarian typically think they government has no business in the bedroom whatsoever. >> or national parks. >> libertarians are pretty extreme but you know on the other hand guys like eastwood protect nature so things are not quite as simple and i agree with you, that you know i was a schoolboy leftists at the extreme sort and when i gave it up i didn't adopt anything else because i think that ideological ideas are a form of linus, and
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ideology blinds us. i mean i love ideology. i grew up in the generation and 68 where mark uzoh was god and i have to say i read him now and i go yeah, yeah. it just limits you. i mean i look around in this audience and isolate the tackle part. i was really super left, really super left. i think basically you look very last. i know the world that i will tell you something, i will tell you something. i feel better now. i will tell you why i feel better. i know people are not going to like hearing this. freedom from ideology is freedom for me. sometimes the left is right and sometimes the right is right. that is a very weird thing to have to think that it is absolutely true. >> the right is free of
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ideology? >> no, i said no, not at all. freedom of ideology, i don't know. know. see it just makes me bristol. i am the same now as i was in 1968. i was a freshman at columbia in 1967, 68 when the columbia uprising happened. i was very confused. i always studied ideology but i was never an ideologue. people who are ideologues are fools whether you are an ideologue on the left or the right and there's no need to change if you're consistent in studying and trying to understand the world as it is, not how it ought to be. you can then go from there and talk about how you want to change things, but it makes me bristol when i hear people say well and i was young and foolish i was on the left and now i am old and conservative than much smarter on the right ercolano you were a full band and maybe you are a fool now come i don't
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know. i welcome what you say. i think that's possibly true but i don't feel ideologically akin to the right either. >> you described yourself as a 1968 new york liberal republica, rockefeller, brooks up in massachusetts. >> irving powell. >> those guys in the longer republicans though. they would be too far to the left to be in today's republican party. >> possibly. >> not possible. tell me any liberal republican from 1968 who is in the -- now. >> but as i said i am trying to be free of all those things. when i am happiest, what i am clearest, what i found interesting, a lot of europeans have said, when they come to
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this country they get very confused by the split here, and i think part of the reason is that the split here is even more rigid than in europe. >> it's also a creature of the media. >> oh yes, totally creative and reinforcement is used. no question. >> to get tax onto your question one of the persons my colleagues were asking me which is a critical question, why is so much of hollywood liberals? why he hasn't always been liberal? even though i can argue in terms of state power of trying to understand why republicans have state power. they do. they been much more successful but we are talking about still small numbers. the vast majority of hollywood is liberal and i think the key is not liberal as a political term. i think the key of what you were
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describing mike is empathy. if you are going to be an actor or a writer, you need to be able to understand as he said, to stand in someone else's shoes. you have to understand the character who is not like you. you have to be able to make them empathetic. it's one of the reasons edward g. robinson was once asked if he would ever play hitler in a movie, and he said no because i would have to find something about him to make him human and to make an audience feel some empathy for him and i don't want to do that for him. i simply don't want to do it. so i think if you have a sense of empathy and think about how many actors by and large come from poor backgrounds, have to work their way up, have a hard struggle, you feel that empathy and that empathy, that human spirit leads you into a kind of politico liberalism where you know you can see both sides. the world is in black-and-white. black and white. it's kind of gray.
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you are not a radical right-winger. >> let me ask you a question about that. here hears in a shooting example of a recent film but was quite successful. this was blindside, last year i think. there was a movie that was her guarded by critics who observed this, people who were reviewers that say as a movie that was in some sense socially conservative. it had kind of early just feel and bass to it but there is no question that it was a film filmed with empathy and i found it quite moving. i don't think that empathy is so exclusively a left side phenomenon. i mean if you examine that movie, i don't know what you felt about it. i didn't love it, i thought it was a good one but it was clearly a different kind of empathy. i am sure you would agree there was empathy in that movie.
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>> sure, sure, there was also cross racial relationships. i thought it was a television movie that was made is a feature because it had a star, sandra bullock, in the. >> well okay, that is a point the point aside and also legitimate but i'm asking a different question than that. that is a kind of a religious themed, christian film. i am not a christian but that is a christian film and its basis. i think it's empathy -- empathy coming from the other direction. >> i am not sure i disagree if you want to analyze it that way. the point is it's not necessary it seems to me to parse things as either left or right, parsi sings as liberal or conservative values. humanity, humane values, humane
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treatment of other people, understanding, sympathy, empathy the kinds of things that, the recognition of the kinds of things that make us human and make the others with whom we interact human it seems to me is the thing that ought to be championed whether it is liberal, conservative or whatever. >> could and you read that film both ways? that was the interesting thing about the blindsided my view that a lot of people on the left thought it was an awful down because it was yet another white hearse and saving yet another black bersin and i kept myself not a green because a it happened to be true. is was based on a real story and i thought it was a very well told story that was respectful to both sides so yes, in some ways it's a nonideological film. made by a filmmaker who is trying to be very concrete about the way the world works. and a lot of people really
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disapproved of it and a lot of critics. >> yeah but you know, those are the people who want to keep getting people into slotscome into categories and that is what i think it's dividing us which is the thing i find so offensive about these kinds of, these kinds of debates and divisions. >> can we talk about actors as well, that issue because really what defines as us suppose the hollywood left and right is the issue of celebrity and it's often said that politics is show business for ugly people. is not in our town, right? [laughter] politics is show business with real lookers, and frank bruni wrote an op-ed of "the new york times" a couple of weeks ago in which he basically said that hollywood stars should not go down to occupy l.a. or occupy new yorker occupy wall street because they are too rich and too connected, too hooked into
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corporations into good-looking to really do the movement and a good. >> which is utter nonsense, utter nonsense. >> a lot of people wrote in to say so. >> certainly, well first is the people in occupy wall street or los angeles or anybody else would embrace them and say thank you are coming and showing us that you care. >> that didn't into michael moore. did you see the clip of that? michael moore was run out of, not run out of oakland. >> it was the occupy wall street. it was quite interesting because they were wanting to know because he refused -- what he did with his 50 million, he ran off. at the video of it. it's fascinating because there is a level of which the hypocrisy, hypocrisy starts to reach a certain level. i had personal experience with
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moore. i was union oriented in that -- those days. and hoare didn't want to pay union wages to his writers. this is a well-known thing and has been written about in "the new yorker." he is not a consistent man and when he came down to a the occupy movement it was all over the internet, the video of him being run out of there. it was fascinating. this is the guy who has made a fortune, a real fortune, $50 million, off of a kind of pose, a left-wing pose rather than i think real. again that is the one of the things that caught got me off being at typical leftist. very prevalent. >> we are talking about apples and oranges here. you can as individuals that nobody wants their but the main
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part of the bernie peace if you are famous celebrity you have given up your citizenship. you have given up their right to talk about democracy. you have given up your right to go into any group and talk about your solidarity with them whether conservative or liberal. that is what was so offensive about it, that just because they are celebrities, because they are stars and because they're wealthy they have no right to go down there. it was ridiculous. >> i would agree with you about that. he was an exceptional case. he is a strange promoter, and when you start to feel dishonesty going on it makes you go wait a minute. >> the bottom line that bernie is being insincere about, from the 1920s on one celebrity start getting involved in elections and endorsing candidates the main thing celebrities do is they bring attention to issues. an issue that might not have gotten press gets the press.
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a candidate who might not have gotten the attention, get attention because celebrity a or b is with them. to me that has got to be good for democracy because that means you are paying more attention to what is going on and maybe if you are paying attention to what is going on you actually read a little bit about what is going on, educate yourself about what is going on and if you can educate yourself about what is going on you can we and inform brother and make an informed decision and i make if the -- i believe that this country made informed decisions not like voting on in god we trust in a disgusting vote in the house of representatives yesterday, just pandering, that is not an educated vote. if we make educated voting, and if celebrities help get people to pay attention, more power to them. >> the are celebrities and celebrities right? there are those you describe in your book who have done a great deal of home park and a great
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deal of behind-the-scenes work and there are others who one way or another are images. the unfortunate hillary swank affair. >> there is an occupation in hollywood. i don't know how prevalent it is but i know it exists of people who make a living advising celebrities on where to get their money. that is inherently in contradiction to what you are saying because it says automatically the celebrity does not have the reins and the attention span him or herself to figure that out. >> they don't have the commitment. that is really what it is. >> or the commitment or ghost go. >> there are some people who are working very hard and are committed to the kinds of work they are doing and understand a certain level of lyrical sophistication but don't have the depth of understanding about which issue is being dealt with most positively and most progressively and most
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successfully by which organization or individual is the one that is the most representative of the point of view that you would want to support so i think it's unfair to lump celebrities into these categories of thoughtless people who when they become successful are incapable of thought and demonstrate it. >> some are like that. >> so are some plumber's. >> yes, of course, but that occupation is a symptom of essentially buying your activism as opposed to what you did, earning it. it's a very different thing and i would address someone who advocates of course because you know he pays an adviser. that would be a good cause for his image. >> i would agree with you only if he or she accepts the word of
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the adviser without checking into it her or himself and i think that is a misstep you are suggesting does not exist. i am saying it's the reverse. i think you know, we have a business out here that unfortunately or fortunately makes people millions and millions of dollars. in some instances in a relatively short time and these are people quite often who aren't either equipped to or understand, equipped to understand the best way for themselves to make use and make use both politically and socially, personally of that money so if they want to take the benefit of a talented person who says do you know what? here is what i would suggest you look into and do that, if they look into it then god bless them. if they just simply say i think you are suggesting that whatever their agent or adviser tells
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them to do, but that is what they are going to do, well then that is some sort of puppetry that is not being paid attention to. but, we have people in the business who are really good, decent, thoughtful people and we have people in the business who are really creeps. we have people in the business who are very successful based on their talent and energy and commitment. we have people in the business who are tremendously successful based on pure luck. it troubles me when people make these grand generalizations about celebrities and what they do and what they don't do and what they should do and what they shouldn't do. they are people just like everybody else. >> they are people with a lot more exposure than most other people and in your book steve, you have a wonderful quote from thomas haden who was terry to
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jane fonda and to some degree her mentor, who worried at all about that when people attach themselves to celebrities, you arc giving them -- rather than citizens so you seem to be arguing against celebrities. >> he was in a conundrum because he was talking about, celebrity politics ultimately good or bad for democracy because that is really the question we want to be getting at here, not left and right and i agree. those distinctions have created more trouble than they have created hope and change. instead, we ask, what can we do to improve democracy in america? i asked him, so you have been married to a celebrity. in the end you think celebrity helps or hinders democracy? and he said it cuts both ways. he said on one hand, when jane
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and i would go out on the road with the committee for economic democracy, active here in the late 70s, early '80s, we would bring a lot of the brat packs, then the brat pack would come on the road with us. ..
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they say we don't understand the issues and we don't want to vote if we really don't understand the issues. and why i thought oprah what's endorse it was so good she didn't tell anyone to vote for obama she said i'd never endorsed a candidate. i like barack obama. i think, you know, i just want to tell you maybe when you should pay attention to him and what her endorsement did was reach into the 50% of the electorate that don't go and vote and in this way i think obra actually expanded democracy
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by increasing the amount of people voting hero and various studies that have been done afterwards that to these multiple regression analyses i can't figure out how but they are in the endorsement of an extra 1.2 million votes in the primary and when they broke it down and without the endorsement, hillary would have been a candidate and again, but oprah did whether you like obama, don't like and obama were to be a cushion that people used of and for a candidate and the issues and i think again, i just have to think in the long run that has to be good for this country, not bad for the country. >> if i may quote. >> yes, go ahead. >> one of your points is that women who don't understand the issues don't vote. i think in fairness you have to suggest that many do with photo. [applause]
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>> from there should be a quote male oprah show. >> if there is only one women and isn't a criticism of the view. >> there is only one woman who was as activist as the men and i knew that what, but in the and i knew it was more important to write about people who made a difference and to try to be politically correct and to the balance. >> but today he can make the case for a devolution of the end into the single issue of politics and there are a number of women who like lori david who are active politically on environmental issues and so there are more women at least on the left whatever you think of the politics, susan sarandon, laurie david i suppose in an indirect and probably -- >> yes and the point well taken.
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as you know people on the left and right desert studies but i was also interested in not just getting fife left, right but get people who did different kinds of political activism because we think that being politically active is either you run for office or talk about an issue and those are the two most common forms, electoral politics and would issue politics plan also want to talk about the issue of politics with people like charlie chaplin who didn't like joining groups, who didn't want to be part of any organization, but because he was the only producer, writer, director, star and leader distributor he had no studio had to tell him what he could or couldn't do so he decided to put his public ecstatically on the screen. and i also found that you had a number of stores i write about who did the same thing once you have the end of the studio system in 1948 and movie stars opening up their own production
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companies people liked bill helmke opened his own company and made two films. you have jane fonda opening of her own production company and making several political movies, films like coming home, films like the china syndrome dealing with the same issues. her mass movement with tom hayden off the screen. you had more in the opening his own company and making political films. surprisingly i didn't see many people -- there may be but i'm not aware of prominent people who open their own production companies to make films what to do their own ideas. islamic was my next question will what unless i am mistaken about this i don't see many people on the right reaching out to the grass-roots movements for example of the tea party. spec there's been a fair amount of talk about that lately that i've heard. whether it will emerge is
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another question that they certainly are aware of what steve is saying when. - he probably will be. first of all the whole issue is attracting any way, it has fractions. so it's not -- the studio system like ages ago, but the systems that replace it are now fracturing, so the whole method of production is fractured, and i think what we are going to have is many different schools of thought and depending on their own phrase, and i'm sure some of them are going to be a tea party because there's been a lot of talk about making movies about franklin and so forth and its going to happen. i don't know. >> picking the wrong guy who, let me tell you. [laughter] >> you know, i think it's all kinds of complex people.
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>> it is a movie that springs out of the tea party movement if it carries the theme keep your government hands off my medicare i think that there is big trouble. [laughter] >> i think it will be much more -- it won't be that at all. >> is their sympathy for the tea party on the hollywood right? >> what's that? >> is their sympathy for the tea party on the hollywood right or do they see themselves largely as republicans? >> no, i don't know the answer to that question. really because, you know, the argument and that he party is largely a small government. that is basically what it is. the other stuff is -- it doesn't really exist. the race attack on the tea party never held because it wasn't true. these were were a small government people and they are small government people so that is a very different kind of argument, and how that will translate into production of fillmore television is hard to
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please. there was a field with a terrible movie of atlas shrugged that cannot last year. it was a terrible movie version coming to dublin made a respectable but you end up with a terrible -- [laughter] >> i have to admit i've never read the book but i did see the with movie and was very bored. but -- >> i was bored, too. >> but anyway, -- >> nonetheless if we are having public debates about people and what counts as a person, we are talking about a pretty extreme the fight, you know, culturally, illogically and so on. that is not a politically centrist the date when. >> between small government -- >> of the idea how to define what personhood is that has come up in the last few days.
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>> i don't want to get into an argument about abortion and so on, this suggests the politically fractured company to disconnect the people i've met almost none of them talk about social issues. there are some who do obviously the ones i've met are not interested in the small government, lower, you know, less government involvement and everything, but they don't talk about abortion and they don't talk about gay marriage, they don't talk about it because that's not an issue that attracts their. they are towards economic issues. i've never heard them talk about. the thing about the economic issues, theoretically the tea party are glad is a theoretical argument. it is -- will the society work better for people with the government is less involved in that. that is a theoretical question that the answer to is hard to
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say so it is a hard thing to dramatize in the movie. you could do a science-fiction movie to tell what happens if the government is less involved mad max. different ways to look at all i can tell you is driving down i wish there was a bigger government that could fill the potholes were with. >> we should turn it over to questions after one more if you wish. >> i have one more question and the subtitle of your book which is called blacklisting what myself as the subtitle a mausoleum mistaken as a hollywood estate -- apostate, sari -- >> what ever putative the american version i guess. islamic in the age of terror. what do you mean by terror and what you mean by apostate cracks
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>> i was an apostate as we say in america because i was on the left and moved. that is someone who, you know, is muslim and then said he wasn't, whatever. that i feel like i am an apostate was. it's been a when you talk about terror are you talking about different from sean penn or from al qaeda? >> i don't know sean penn and i don't know al qaeda. >> it was a reference to 9/11. >> okay. let's open up for questions from the audience. i think the microphones are coming down to you. yes. >> thank you for a very interesting discussion. i'm a thousand% with you. in the course of researching your book, did you deal at all
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with ronald reagan were in his approach to nuclear disarmament after seeing the day after and how that affected him and of the dealings with gorbachev -- >> no because this book goes 500 pages, and i figure that was heavy enough. the moment somebody got elected to office that is when basically my research and because then there were politicians, not movie stars but i know there's stuff that he got confused and the movie became his reality, but i can't really talk about it because alana was general things. i never really researched it will. >> sorry. the one down here with the hood to read >> with the media covering and talking about people more and more voting on who they like or who they feel comfortable with
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as opposed to issues isn't there another aspect of a celebrity running for office that you end up voting for him because of the role that he played in the film or your comfort with him coming into your living room? is that not an issue also as a part of the hollywood left and right? >> yes. [laughter] i actually write about that in 1964 george murphy who you may remember as a song and dance man whose mayst famous role was dancing with shirley temple, the kind of role and i wrote about this the kind of role that you believe you are a movie star left or right and you are thinking about a serious career in politics, then be very careful because the kind of roads that you choose are going to have a great impact on how the public perceives you, and in 64 when murphy ran against pierre salinger who had been the press secretary for the camelot
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years john kennedy everyone expected that he was going to lose dramatically to sallinger, and one of the tv stations must have been democratically owned began running his late-night movies or begin running his movies on late night television thinking that people would see this and remember he is only a song and dance man and they would become disgusted and say how ho could he possibly be u.s. senator even though he had been the head of the california gop for two years, media adviser to eisenhower and tom dewey, and it backfired and murphy said to the press later on i know why they did this they thought they could smear me, but now i can go around and people say you are so nice. i remember you, you with a lovely young man who danced with shirley temple and you were the best friend in this movie and in
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that movie and he would then start going campaigning and say i've been in more of your better terms than any other candidate in america. [laughter] so yes, those to help. >> right over here. >> to questions over year. >> i counted the words, there are 11i think. what story did nash tell that is no longer being told on tv? >> the war hertz and blood isn't spelled without cost. >> it was an answer. >> have you ever been attempted to run for office and do you feel you can be more effective as an activist versus a politician?
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>> attempted is a different word as i said at one time. no, i'm not interested in running for office. i have been asked. i think that mauney role in society is one that is a personal one, and i have great, great respect for the few among them in the political world that i consider public servants but it's more of a sacrifice and i am not talking about economics it's more of a sacrifice than i'm willing to make. i have a family and the mean more to meet them as robert mondale said spending all those nights in holiday in. >> i am deeply concerned about the republicans' attack on the women's right to choose and i'm curious as to why we have not seen more female stars come out
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in support of the women's rights to choose. >> it seems to me we have. >> you haven't evidently. as far as i know, the women of this country are significantly engaged in this question. let me just say i think things are coming at us in scattershot bursts and you have to sort of take your fight whether you are concerned about abortion or racial issues or about the economic disparity in this country or whether you are concerned about homelessness or whatever else is now in the
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consciousness while as steve pointed out the congress is voting on whether or not in god we trust is still the model of the united states of america. people are very confused today and i think very upset at the way things are going that there is a great deal of the survey in terms of figuring out how to respond to that. >> i was wondering maybe if all three of you could comment on the impact on political culture in this country because it seems to me that he is emblematic of a celebrity bringing attention to the issues and why you think that he has been so effective at being someone who's obviously liberal leanings but opening of the conversation and garnering attention and respect from both sides of the nile. >> who? >> john stewart. >> anyone want to -- >> i think he's quite brilliant,
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and i think you're right, he tries to -- i think he tries to be fair. and people have been so dhaka deutsch with -- deluged with ideologies that comes at them in the form of news and in the form of opinion and in the form of what have you, one thing or another, and much of it is simply dishonest. and when you get i think from jon stewart is the sense that he is an engaged, interested, intelligent american who is very worried about what is going on in this country, and he lets it be known. he's also very funny and very talented. >> i will say that jon stewart is the jonathan swift of our generation in that part of his effectiveness is a satire that it is always easier to secure
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politics when you are laughing and then when you have talking heads coming at you in an angry manner and that the other thing i think one of the reasons he is popular is he is willing to poke fun at the left as well as the right, at the democrats as well as republicans. he will call in for a fool and all he has to do is show the videotape that, you know, the best thing he does is no, i don't believe in this, never have, and he's jersey something they said last year the politicians of that was 180 degrees. and so he exposes political hypocrisy on a daily basis. and if you look at the history certainly the history of hollywood even during the censorship days of the early 30's, comedies were always less prone to be censored then when drama because nobody took comedians very seriously, did they come and that is why jon stewart can get away with so
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much because he's doing it through humor and we know that there's intelligence, their homework, there's preparation, and even though it's clear he leans leftward he's not afraid at any time to go after anyone that's been a full. >> i agree. i think one of the interesting things about right now is the it's much more popular to get the news. more people get their news through jon stewart dinham they do through the normal channels. there's a good thing in that and of course there is a bad thing and the good thing is that it's entertaining that he's willing to go against both sides which is great and makes him more authentic. on the other hand, it says something about a discourse so
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there is a double side to it and then this is and to condemn jon stewart but the rest. >> why wanted to ask the panelist who is disillusioned because of micheael moore always of the right-wing wackos on fox. [applause] >> equal opportunity disillusionment first. [laughter] >> this isn't going to win the contest with words, what i have two questions. i will try to put them in one. when you say the hollywood right had power, i don't understand exactly what he meant.
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with power, but controlled, influenced and certainly as the years have gone by, the right has not had a power to elect the very cause is that the left espoused from the early 30's and on came to be social security, unemployment, even the war the hollywood right opposed. they favored mccarthyism. that was exposed and discredited as you say, hollywood had all this power. why did the country slowly turn to you the issues that were hardly fought by the left came to be discrimination, equal rights for blacks, equal rights for women, social security, unemployment insurance, i can go on and on. >> how about we let the panel answer in that case.
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>> i would say if you buy my book. [laughter] it's a wrong answer. the short answer to that is you are not wrong but you are sort of maybe i've not made myself clear. i'm not saying everyone on the hollywood right has done that but there are two things to look at to read one is if you take the big picture of american politics in the 20th century and you are asking the big picture question there have been to foundational moments in the 20th century politics that has affected all our lives. the first is the creation of the new deal state, the welfare state with the social safety net under franklin d. roosevelt, president deeply supported by hollywood and in fact helped spark the emergence of hollywood as a political center on the left. and the second is the attempt to dismantle the new deal state with a conservative revolution begun under a movie star ronald reagan in 1980.
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but in between that isn't to say that the hollywood left hasn't had a huge impact as well and as mike has pointed out, they don't do the to dealt mainly with issues that if you look at the 1930's and 40's it's the hollywood left that was out on the forefront promoting antinot see is some in the 50's and 60's it was the hollywood left promoting the civil rights movement. in the 60's, 70's, 80's and in 2000 it's been the hollywood left leading the antiwar movement and many of the hollywood left talking of the socially progressive causes like a woman's right to her own body and other issues. but those are again those are important issues. those are segments and that isn't to say though left hasn't had an impact but if i'm talking about was seismic changes the revolution of the 80's are the two biggest seismic changes in
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american politics in the 20th century. >> we have time for one more quick question. >> a quick question involves jobs. hollywood rather it is right or left is more corporate or not and it is a star system where the stars will work with its louisiana or michigan. what happens to the support of the union's and jobs here in california? there's also a tax issue, a tax credit issue. california isn't competitive all. so left or right isn't it more corporate verses union? >> yes. [laughter] >> it's the money-making business. that's the bottom line. it's a business. i can tell you ll teaches at the film school. i have even though in the history department i have a lot
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of phd students from the sonoma and they would tell me that the undergraduates as well in their first day they are told if you want to go to art films go to nyu. if you want to make a living, come to usc. they are under no illusion when they are trained that you are being trained for a business and that the business is about making films and the business is about making money on those films and so is coming to vancouver or toronto or louisiana gets you a tax credit that makes it cheaper, that's where you are going to go, and you can reach if you to read really interesting stuff, read all the davidson's collected autobiography where they talked about going into hollywood for the first time in the late forties to make no way out and of seeing a single black person below the line, not a single black worker in hollywood below line.


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