A Tale of Two Cities

Washington  DC and Hollywood are two cities suffering from the same condition:  they’ve not only become completely alienated from the people they’re meant to serve, they’re bizarrely blind to the fact of that alienation.   Like deranged narcissists in a hall of mirrors, both our lawmakers and our culture-makers blow kisses at their own reflections, see a million kisses coming back their way and think, “Oh, look, they love me—love me!”

“Hm, let’s see:  politics or show biz…”

For glaring proof in Washington, we have the passage of the health care bill.  Recently the Washington Post ran an op-ed by former Carter pollster Pat Caddell and Clinton pollster Douglas E. Schoen expressing their amazement that Obama and the Democrats would go forward with this bill in the face of overwhelming evidence that the public doesn’t want it.   Caddell—a moderate Dem who sometimes sports a t-shirt reading, “I’m Grumpy because you’re Dopey,”—and Schoen are baffled that the Democrats continue to grow and grow and grow the government despite polls that show Americans feel the federal apparatus is now an immediate threat to their civil rights and is no longer operating with the consent of the governed.

And yet, even after losing a Senate seat in blue-on-blue Massachusetts almost entirely on the health care and big government issues, the Democrats plunged forward, certain that we’re going to like the garbage they’re forcing us to eat.

To get some sense of the psychology behind this self-destructive self-deception, let’s take a look at a similar act in DC’s ideological sister city three thousand miles away.  Here, Universal studios  recently released Green Zone, a $100 million anti-Iraq war movie despite the box office failures of over a dozen similarly themed films.  Matt Damon stars as the soldier who discovers–what is provably untrue–that the Bush administration lied about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction in order to drag us into war.  Operation Shock and Awe was nothing compared to the way this picture bombed.  HBO’s World War II series The Pacific also did only modest business, its chances possibly poisoned by Executive Producer Tom Hanks’ idiotic remarks that America had “wanted to annihilate [the Japanese] because they were different,” and that this made the war in the Pacific similar to today’s wars against Islamic terror.

As a result of these two failures, show biz trade magazine Variety ran an almost hilariously purblind article saying that Hollywood was calling a “truce” on making war films because  “with U.S. troops embroiled in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, American audiences continue to suffer from war fatigue.”

Yeah, that must be it.  It couldn’t be that we’re nauseated by a bunch of show biz yahoos depicting our troops and leaders as evil while they’re in the field defending us.  Or wait, maybe it is:  the one film—the single film—that, while taking no political position on these wars, nonetheless treated our military with deep honor, respect and patriotism—HBO’s brilliant Taking Chance—was one of the network’s signal successes despite the mainstream media’s blithering negative reviews.

Here’s the thing.  The people want government that acts in keeping with our principles of free markets, self reliance and individual liberty.  The people want culture that depicts the moral order as we know it is, not as sequestered elites dream it should be. But in Hollywood and in Washington, they cannot hear the people because they are making too much noise talking to themselves, confirming themselves, loving themselves.

They say that Washington is Hollywood for ugly people.  But as long as our leaders and artists are displaying such blindness, arrogance and narcissism, they’re all ugly.

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  • http://pascalfervor.blogspot.com Pascal (the derivative)

    Brilliant lead up, but I think you could have ended it better than with an ad hominem.

    With so much solipsism (“Who cares what it costs? I made the movie I wanted.”) and misanthropy (those equating heroes with villains suggests they aim to suppress creation of all heroic liberators) apparent in abundance, the facts make the point without you stating it.

  • SeeingDouble

    Ad hominem? Seems an aptly poetic finish, given Klavan’s thesis.

    But enough of that… BRAVO, Mr. Klavan.

  • Bumr50

    When the concept of God is removed from people’s lives, it is often replaced with ‘self.’

  • Chattanooga Jim


    Unfortunately, the folks you are talking about live inside a one-way bubble. The facts of reality cannot penetrate the tough skin of the bubble keeping them grossly ignorant of what the rubes want from them, be it intelligent governance or decent movies. But, that doesn’t keep them from insulting us with their leftist tripe. Although Damon is beyond hope, I did expect better from Hanks.

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  • Secret Conservative


    Excellent piece, and absolutely true. When I look at that stupid picture of Nancy Pelosi carrying the giant gavel around Washington, I just want someone to hit her in the head with it. Guess the voters can do that in November.

    And Chattanooga Jim, I wish we could expect better of Tom Hanks, but ever since he acted in “Saving Private Ryan” he believes himself to be a top-notch historian and beyond reproach in his opinions. also, he hangs out with Steven Spielberg, who, in Hollywood, is considered a God, because he makes so much money. So I guess that makes Hanks a demi-God.

    Makes me think of Goldie Hawn’s character in “First Wives Club” who, when she is accused of being a narcissist who has no feelings, proclaims, “…I’m an ACTOR. I have ALL of the feelings!”

  • http://pascalfervor.blogspot.com Pascal (the derivative)


    Aptly poetic? Without elan he’s only preaching to the choir (us) and penetrates not a single skull currently held captive by the Left.

    My point was that Mr Klavan arranged the setting — his thesis — for his blunt ending so well that he wound up with little need for the blunt ending.

    On the other hand, given his gift with words for our cause, I would rather he publish even with (in my opinion) flaws. He provides less-talented critics like me a chance to suggest improvements for next time.

  • George Semel

    Its called Victory disease. The left was sucessfull in destroying The Bush Presidency, and then they took back Congress and the Senate and then they Got the White house. Its like The German in World War II, from 1938 to Fall of 1941 nothing could stop the German , that is till the winter of 1941-42 before Moscow. The Democrats are headed for a defeat to the likes of which they have never seen, they are going to loose the House and Senate and by margins that are going to make 1994 just a well one of those days. And there was whole sale panic in 1994 after the November Election. The American People are not going to put up with this stuff. The interesting part is that the Dem’s think that it will be ok, they will loose a little in November, its tradition to do so and they will gain again when Obama wins re election. Like the German, They thought falling back and not taking Moscow in 41 was a minor thing, we will push on in 42 and crush the Russians, Yea that was the Idea, till Stalingrad. The November Elections will be the Dem’s Stalingrad, and the 2012 Elections their Kursk. Now only if our side has some down in the mud stiff spine leaders with the singular will like those Russians that just took it all in and handed it all back and crushed the German with a good bit of assistance from friends they didn’t know they had.

  • Heidi

    Idiots, all of them… I will never Pay to see a Tom Hanks movie again..

  • http://whatwouldtotowatch.com Christian Toto

    Great piece. I had forgotten about the Kevin Bacon HBO film … and how well it performed.

    The Variety piece in question was laugh out loud funny for its unwillingness to scratch at the real truth.

  • hollywoodron

    I thought “Greenzone” was a documentary, and 20mil for a documentary isn’t bad!!!?? But I’m sure it will make a lot more once it hits Middle Eastern nations, where young easily influenced men with no future and no wife, since they are taken by 40yr old men with other wives, well, they’ll really enjoy it and want to ‘get involved’.

  • Laura

    When I heard Hanks’ comment about the Pacific war, I was genuinely disappointed. I had a lot of respect for him after Band of Brothers because he really seemed to throw himself into the history of America’s war in Europe and to have tremendous respect for the men who fought that war. In the end, I’ve just decided that, whatever his politics, I grossly overestimated his intelligence.

  • billc

    I love your work. I watched taking chance and you missed the one, tiny scene that had an anti-war overtone. I think it was while he was on the plane flying to home state of Private Chance that you see him looking at an anti-war cover to newsweek or some other magazine. These people just can’t help themselves.

  • Koblog

    Hey, “Pascal (the derivative),” here’s the ad hominem you desired:

    Tom Hanks has proven himself an ignoramus of history. He’s also exposed the thought process of the Hollywood left.

    Our cultural masters believing we fought Japan because they were different from us is breathtakingly silly. It’s like Hanks was placed in some Hollywood indoctrination center until he was properly re-educated. He said it without flinching, without hesitation. An automaton.

    Knowing this historical revisionism is behind the filming, I will never watch his Pacific series. Hanks has dishonored the 400,000 Americans who died in that war.

  • http://gunsup@us Johnnie Clark

    Keep fighting the good fight and keep writing the truth. I’m a disabled Marine, 3 Purple Hearts, Silver Star etc. author of Guns Up! and some other books about the Corps. I have a lot of dead buddies who did not die for the country these scum bags in Hollyweird or D.C. are trying to create. How I wish they could all be sent to Vietnam or Iran or China or Russia to live out the rest of their time. But we had saying in the Corps and it still goes, Payback is a medevac, I’m waiting for payback and it comes in the end. Semper Fi

  • Neecie

    I am just amazed that Obama still thinks the reason people opposed the health care plan was because we were misinformed and just didn’t understand what was in the bill–After, what was it, a couple hundred teleprompter speeches? So, he is going to spend untold millions to try to convince everyone that we really love it. They really don’t get it.

    And of course Hollywood is doing badly because people would rather watch YouTube videos of other people’s cats on their laptop than going to the theater with their friends and watching a movie on a large screen with a state of the art sound system. It has nothing to do with that fact that the movies are stupid and insulting, and will end up in the $5 DVD bin at Walmart in less than a year.

  • http://lostaglia.blogspot.com CT Lostaglia

    Sorry, this is all hooey. I agree with your premises here Klavan, but not with what “Americans” want to see. Generally, Americans like smart, imaginative, intriguing, explosive, action-packed thrillers with a 21st century romantic twist. Specifically, Americans want to see anything James Cameron makes–regardless of what’s in it and how much military/Bush bashing it does.
    Time and again conservatives have set their principles aside to see a movie they knew or assumed may slight against their principles. And they will continue to do so, because they are weak and blue alien jungle people are strong.