Blacklisted, oh yea* [Updated]
From Maybe I Think Too Much:
I'm fed up with Hollywood elitists thinking they can publicly mock our President, Christianity, and values that Middle America holds dear without ever being held accountable. They are certainly entitled to their opinions, and they should still be able to fund candidates and organizations, appear in movies of their choosing, and say whatever they want to whomever they want, but they should also experience the consequences and repercussions of their words and actions.
This is why I propose to reestablish the Hollywood Blacklist.Any celebrity, having been verified saying something objectionable, after today (Saturday, June 12, 2004) about an elected official, the American military, a religion or religious leaders, about people living in "flyover country", or in any way impugn the religious or moral values held by the majority of Americans to the press, in media such as television, movies, radio, CDs, books, newspapers, magazines or web sites, will be added to the new blacklist and I encourage everyone to cease renting or purchasing products that they appear in or promote. This includes their movies, their television shows, their CDs, their magazines, their books and those of the products whom they are spokespersons for.
What a soundly terrible idea. It mocks everything America is about, as well as gives credence to the left's mantra that conservatives and/or Republicans want to crush dissent and block free speech.
While I think it's disengenous to call Bush Hitler, for example, I don't think anyone should be "held accountable" for doing so in terms of being blacklisted.
This is why I don't join boycotts or throw out my Beastie Boys CDs. America is the land of the free and that includes free speech. If you don't want to watch movies or listen to music made by actors or musicians whose views differ vastly from yours, more power to you. However, I think calling for a Hollywood blacklist does more harm than good to your cause.
There is a difference between an entertainer facing the repercussions of his statements via monetary loss if a whole bunch of people just decide to stop purchasing his products and being a victim of a group-think movement to outright stop his career in its tracks.
For instance, a person writing to UComics and telling them that they are upset that they print Ted Rall's comics and will no longer put any of their own money into supporting UComics is fine and a great expression of your freedom to show dissent. However, gathering your forces to get UComics to drop Ted Rall from its roster (please note, as much as I despise Ted Rall, I never wrote to any of his syndicators to ask them to drop him) is engaging in tactics that can be construed as crushing of someone else's dissent, which is not very American.
Perhaps it just the term "blacklist" that worries me. The connations of that word are dark and evil and make me think of smoky back rooms where giant men with cigars dictate the lives of others. To whitewash the entertainment industry so that only those who voice your own opinion are left standing is dishonest; it creates an environment where only one lone voice is heard. Michael Moore may not speak for me, but he certainly speaks for others and to make any attempt to blacklist him or to strong arm movie theaters into not showing his film it to take away other people's freedom to listen to Moore and see his works. Who are we to decide what other people can see or hear?
I get nervous whenever people talk about silencing others and that, in essence, is what a blacklist purports to do. Oh, the left has their own blacklists as well, as does every major political movement. They just don't always make it public. No matter who is doing the blacklisting, it is bad, bad policy.
The dictionary defines blacklist this way:
A list of persons or organizations that have incurred disapproval or suspicion or are to be boycotted or otherwise penalized.
Penalizing someone for speaking their mind, no matter how insane or contrary their views might be, is inherently un-American. Organizing a boycott among like-minded individuals is fine, stating publicly that you don't not support Actor X because of he trashes the president is fine as well. But a blacklist is equivalent to trying to shut someone up.
Sadly, I fear that this will end up being nearly all media as we know it, but given the trash that floods into our homes and theatres passing as entertainment today, it is probably a good thing to lose, especially if a boycott of these products will drive home the point that these Hollywood elitists cannot continue to insult their audience and still expect to get rich. Please note that this blacklist will not punish those in the entertainment media for civilized dissent. If an actor says something along the lines of, "I plan to support Senator Kerry in his campaign because I believe strongly in his vision for America," demented as that may be, it's not objectionable and insulting, and doesn't warrant blacklisting. If instead, the actor says, "Bush means Dick Cheney, Tom DeLay, and all these fucking crypto-fascists are gonna get in and start carving up the pie and handing in all their markers to the Republican Party that's been itching to get back into power." (John Cusack, otherwise one of my favorite actors.)
The problem the author of this blog faces is that he assume that the audience is made up solely of people who have the same views of him. ...these Hollywood elitists cannot continue to insult their audience and still expect to get rich. Not all of the audience is insulted, just as not everyone is as insulted or horrified as I am when Ted Rall talks about Reagan roasting in hell. Also, the author is specifically defining what kind of dissent is appropriate, as if he has a right to determine the proper way of voicing your opinion.
Again, it's something about keeping a list that bothers me, that invokes the spirit of Communism (yes, ironically, blacklists in Hollywood historically kept out the Communists). The thought of someone fastidiously writing down names and checking them against their statements, then deciding if the statement was good dissent or bad dissent according to their own definition gives me the creeps.
I expect that there will be plenty of argument on this subject and many of you will rush to point to the fact that I often take celebrities to task for the policital things they say; that I am often seen deriding Michael Moore or Ted Rall for their commentary. While I do believe they deserve my ridicule, I also believe they deserve their time on their soapboxes because they are Americans and therefore they are born with the right to speak their mind, no matter how deluded that mind might appear to others. For every person like myself who thinks that Moore is insane, there is a person who thinks he is a genius and I have no right to take away that person's ability to listen to Moore.
[link via Dean Esmay]
Update: I knew this post would be like letting a swarm of bees loose. Honestly, my biggest problem with the blacklist idea - and I know this is not the basis for a good argument against it - is the useage of the word blacklist itself. I probably associate it too closely with the McCarthy blacklist era and thus all my feelings towards this are very negative.
Also, in the comments Allah states:
There was a lot of talk after 9/11 about Americans being prepared to sacrifice in times of war. You seem to be saying that despite the presence of people here at home who, casually or not so casually, are doing what they can to undermine that war effort, being asked to sacrifice part of your CD or DVD collection is simply a bridge too far. Doesn't leave much left to the concept of "sacrifice," I don't think.
I don't see how throwing out CDs and movies I bought years ago makes any sacrfice towards the war on terror. I'm willing to wait longer in airports because security is tighter, I am willing to give up certain freedoms and rights if it means that I am better protected for it. I just don't get the concept of throwing out entertainment in the name of fighting terrorism.
I do my best to call these people out, to bring publicity to their mostly idiotic feats that try to undermine our success in this war. I think it's a bit dishonest to make the implication that I am not willing to sacrifice anything for the war on terror. Just because I still have my Smiths CDs does not mean I hold Morrissey up as some great icon of truth. Morrissey the artist, I am still a fan of. Morrissey the person can kiss my American, freedom loving ass. But I do keep in mind his right to say the things he does, and I keep in mind my right to make sure everyone knows what he is going around saying. And please note I am not talking about speech that can be qualified as treason. That's a whole different ballgame. When someone, like Ted Rall, tells troops to start shooting at each other, that's a bit different than saying Bush is Hitler. One is poisonous, the other is just stupidity masquerading as protest.
Perhaps this makes no sense to you. It does to me and I cannot explain myself any better than I already have. I just really resent the implications in the comments and from some email I received that because I think Michael Moore is allowed to exercise his freedom of speech, I am therefore aiding and abetting anti-Americanism. Please tell me how an almost twenty year old copy of Beastie Boys album sitting in my CD player is doing just that?
It's very early on a Sunday morning and I'm sure there are plenty of holes in my argument against blacklisting that will be brough to light; holes that might be better filled when I've had more time to think about the subject. But that's what the comments - often filled with raging dissent - are for.