The Decline and Fall of the Hollywoke Empire - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
The Decline and Fall of the Hollywoke Empire

It is painful to watch an art form die, especially the most popular one in history. Cinema has enthralled more people, across every stratum of society, than all others combined. In just over one hundred years, works by past masters — Hitchcock, Ford, Hawks, Wilder, Welles — and living ones — Spielberg, Lucas, Coppola, Lynch — continue to attract billions, including folks who can’t tell a da Vinci from a van Gogh. With an appreciative audience still awaiting, Hollywood might have outlasted the Roman Empire. But like Rome, it is rotting from the inside, sacked by leftist hacks who could never have built it. And like a modern Gibbon, media critic Christian Toto picks apart the spoils and spoilers of moviedom in his incisive, indispensable, yet breezy new book, Virtue Bombs: How Hollywood Got Woke and Lost Its Soul.

It’s a task Toto performs astutely if reluctantly. Unlike most of his ideologically opposed colleagues, he would rather analyze a product on the merits and not the politics, a desire made impossible by the producers. “In my perfect world, I’d hunker down, watch movie after movie, and file my reviews in the hope of guiding readers to the best content around,” Toto writes. “But that’s no longer enough for me.… Hollywoke is hurting my country, my culture, and the movies I hold so dear.” Now an effective culture-warrior critic, Toto hits the targets like they’re sitting clucks. The single problem with his book is there are just too many of them.

His easiest targets, of course, are the woken caricatures of previously existing favorites, such as Star Trek (a gay Sulu, Star Trek Beyond), Star Wars (a pansexual Lando Carlissian), Solo: A Star Wars Story), MacGyver (an SJW MacGyver), and Ghostbusters (the widely rejected 2016 female reboot). Toto cites a MacGyver speech in the reboot so phony and cringeworthy — the titular hero explaining why he joined a Black Lives Matter protest — it may have canceled the series. “After we defeated Codex, I had a lot of time to think about the world I wanted to be saving. And that world didn’t prop up institutional racism and treat you and Bozer worse than me because I’m white and you’re Black.”

Toto dedicates a whole delicious chapter to the making of Hollywoke’s biggest recent folly, the 2016 feminist Ghostbusters. He describes in amusing detail how each PC-worshipping error — from its inception to the male-bashing promotion (“If you hate the new Ghostbusters, you hate women”) — slimed the whole Industry. It also killed the then Bridesmaids-hot stardom of three of its leads (Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon).

Any other business would have backtracked and rethought its approach. According to Toto, Hollywoke just poured on the nitroglycerin with female swap remakes of superior male star vehicles: Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson in The Hustle (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels — Steve Martin and Michael Caine); Taraji P. Henson in What Men Want (What Women Want — Mel Gibson); Melissa McCarthy in Life of the Party (Back to School — Rodney Dangerfield); Zoe Kravitz in High Fidelity (John Cusack); Anna Faris and Eugenio Derbez in Overboard (Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell), and American Pie Presents: Girls’ Rules. That all of them deservedly bombed will not stop the next batch.

Though almost all on the Left, the actors have little choice but to brandish their liberal credentials, Toto notes. “Staying woke is what modern actors do to keep gainfully employed, keep fit, chase those wrinkles and crows’ feet away, ignore the wave upon wave of younger, prettier stars about to flood the industry, and, just to be safe, share woke platitudes on social media for career preservation.” Take Emma Watson prostrating herself to Black Lives Matter after a harmless post. Or her sister English beauty, Keira Knightley, saying she will only let women directors direct her sexier scenes because of the “male gaze” or something.

Some performers, however, get to be too much for Toto’s journalistic detachment, like Spider-Man star Tom Holland saying he’d be okay with Spidey coming out as gay. “OK, Tommy boy, quit,” snaps Toto. “Man up and demand a black, differently abled, trans actor play the old web slinger.” And on Lando Calrissian’s sudden questionable sexual appetite, Toto writes, “Did anyone bother to tell Billy Dee Williams, the man who originated the character? Would the coolest cat in the galaxy dare object knowing he’s one news cycle away from being digitally tarred and feathered by the woke mob?”

The author blames the new breed of film critics as much as filmmakers for poisoning the screen trade. He lambasts them for leftist sermonizing rather than answering basic questions like, “Is it a good film? Will we be entertained? Does the story move along? Or is it clogging the performances?… None of that matters to the social justice scold.” Toto recalls a chillingly prescient exchange between the late, great, iconic TV film critics (Gene) Siskel and (Roger) Ebert in the Nineties.

SISKEL: There’s a whole New World called political correctness that’s going on. This is death to a critic to participate in that.

EBERT: Political correctness is the fascism of the 90s.

Toto warns, “Heaven help a film that espouses a pro-life or openly conservative spirit.” Yet more Earthly help is on the way. Independent filmmakers are now advancing Andrew Breitbart’s famous dictum, “Politics is downstream of culture,” by navigating away from Hollywoke. Toto commends producer Dallas Sonnier (Bone Tomahawk, Dragged Across Concrete) for partnering with Ben Shapiro’s Daily Wire organization to bring good stories to the screen (their eagerly awaited first collaboration, the thriller, Shut-In, will screen this Thursday on YouTube for free).

The great American novelist, Andrew Klavan (Empire of Lies, When Christmas Comes), has been ringing this bell the loudest, longest, and most melodically, and he does again in his inspiring Foreword to Virtue Bombs: “Patriotic American liberals, now called conservatives, have finally gotten wise to the need to create a culture with sane and generous Western values,” writes Klavan. “These folks need me — and guys and girls like me — to tell good stories about true things which, by definition, no woke person will ever be able to do.”

Image: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.
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