Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the movie theatre, for entertainment and not progressive indoctrination, think again. Netflix just paid a record $10 million for a hagiographic documentary on Democratic starlet Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. After the demonization of Dick Cheney in Vice and canonization of Ruth Bader Ginsburg in On the Basis of Sex both deservedly flopped last year, Hollywood is going full speed ahead on political fare, as always only in the left lane. Studio bosses never let such trifles as box-office poison change their social justice warrior ways.
Netflix outbid Hulu, Focus, and Amazon to pick up Knock Down the House, after it stunned absolutely no one by taking the 2019 Sundance Film Festival Favorite Award. Conservatives at Sundance are even more isolated than its founder’s Jeremiah Johnson. Ocasio-Cortez won her seat in New York’s 14th Congressional District, where Joseph Stalin would be considered too conservative, white and male, like the progressive fossil she beat. She recently became a laughingstock by introducing the Green New Deal, her plan to save the world from climate change by abolishing air travel and cows, among other brainstorms. Yet the official statement by Netflix’s Vice-President of Original Documentaries gushes liberal sanctimony:
It is a transcendent moment when skilled filmmakers are able to train their lens on a major transformation. With intimacy and immediacy, Rachel Lears and Robin Blotnik bring viewers to the front lines of a movement, as four women find their voice, their power and their purpose, allowing all of us to witness the promise of true democracy in action.
Nor will viewers find any respite on the small screen. HBO just bought, and will premiere this spring, Running with Beto, a glowing look at Hollywood dream candidate Beto O’Rourke. Beto, real name Robert, lost decisively to Ted Cruz in last year’s Texas Senate race. But he won the hearts of Beyoncé, Jim Carrey, Eva Longoria, Ellen DeGeneres and countless more celebrities for, I suppose, behaving like a millennial hipster 20 years younger than his Generation X age of 46. Beto idealized the Left’s eternal quixotic quest to turn Texas blue. Watching him skateboard onto a rally stage, all an aging baby boomer like me could feel for him was embarrassment.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with documentaries about popular if unaccomplished Democratic politicians. There’s a built-in market for them. Just as there’s a larger one for true heroes who also ran for office last year as Republicans and won. But their stories will never be bid on or even told by Hollywood. Take that of Dan Crenshaw.
Like Beto, Crenshaw is a Texan who speaks fluent Spanish. Unlike Beto, he put his life on the line for his country as a Navy Seal. Six months into his third deployment to Afghanistan, he got hit by an IED that blew out his right eye and badly damaged his left one. Totally blind for some time, he took comfort in his Christian faith and from his ever close wife, Tara. He eventually regained his sight, which the head surgeon called a miracle. Dan then redeployed to the Middle East in 2014, South Korea two years later. Now he’s the new U.S. Representative for Texas’ Second District. As a produced screenwriter, I know which of the two stories I’d rather write. Yet the only national exposure Dan Crenshaw gained from show business was when some twerp on Saturday Night Live mocked him for his eyepatch as resembling “a hit man in a porno movie.”
The argument that Hollywood only cares about making money regardless of politics was utterly debunked in the ’00s. With our soldiers in harm’s way fighting the War on Terror, studios released an almost endless barrage of anti-military films demeaning the men and their cause — Home of the Brave (Samuel L. Jackson), In the Valley of Elah (Tommy Lee Jones), Lions for Lambs (Robert Redford, Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep, directed by Redford), Redacted (directed by Brian De Palma), Rendition (Streep again, naturally), etcetera. Every single motion picture bombed, yet they kept coming out well into this decade, when the first patriotic portrayal of our heroes, Lone Survivor — starring the openly Christian Mark Wahlberg (“Being a Catholic is the most important aspect of my life”) — earned more than $150-million domestic. One year later, conservative movie legend Clint Eastwood sealed the pro-veteran deal with American Sniper, which grossed $350-million domestic and more than half a billion worldwide.
For two years afterward, Hollywood players kept their leftwing politics more subtle, like just ruining the once male-friendly Star Wars and Mad Max franchises with absurd feminism. Then Trump’s election drove them mad. Their cartoon characters became actual people like Ocasio-Cortez with her world-saving antics. Last week, Saturday Night Live ran a vomitous skit depicting the new Democratic congresswomen as superheroines, including blatant anti-Semite Ilhan Omar. This sort of self-beclowning will only further decrease the audience.
In my new novel, Paper Tigers, the young journalist protagonist, Nick Jarrett, interviews a movie mogul about his community’s contempt for middle America, until he’s had enough. “Who the hell are you people?” Nick declares. “You’re entertainers — jesters. What gives you the intellectual or moral weight to tell hardworking, churchgoing, child-raising folks how to live and think?”
It’s a question that won’t be answered anytime soon, given the upcoming film releases.
Lou Aguilar is a published novelist, produced screenwriter, and cultural essayist. His new novel, Paper Tigers — a tale of politically crossed love in the time of Trump — is available from Deeds Publishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and great American bookstores.