Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Boycotting Art = Not Liberal
Five years ago, Oliver Stone, easily one of my favorite filmmakers, executive produced a film for Showtime called "The Day Reagan Was Shot," which was directed by Cyrus Nowrasteh, who is now helming the two-night docudrama "The Path to 9/11" - which has been "all the rage" in the blogosphere the last few days - scheduled to air on ABC next week.
Some...possibly many...on the left want to boycott ABC and/or Disney because they fear the docudrama will be blaming President Clinton and praising President Bush for "everything related to" the tragic events of 9/11.
But most early reviewers (conservatives mostly...ABC seems to have been courting the right...many on the left are mad because they aren't also being "courted"...which is a legitimate beef I agree...Oliver Stone's "World Trade Center" did the same thing) only saw the first night's show.
From The Capital Times:
In today's political climate, of course, knee-jerk reactions are the norm. Anything your opponents like must be bad, and anything they support, you must oppose.
I've never thought that was wise, but in the case of "The Path to 9/11," it's particularly unwise since few people who are arguing about it have actually seen the film. Of those few who have seen some of "The Path to 9/11," most have only seen the roughly 2 hours that comprise night one.....
"But night two goes after the Bush administration," Nowrasteh said Friday. "We show how John O'Neill and Richard Clarke were swept aside by the Bush administration." O'Neill had headed the FBI's counterterrorism effort before resigning to become head of security at the World Trade Center (where he was killed in the attacks). Clarke was a national security adviser to George W. Bush who resigned and wrote a book critical of the administration.....
Nowrasteh's politics are to the right of mine, but I would remind people he earlier wrote and directed "The Day Reagan Was Shot," a Showtime movie about the aftermath of the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan. That film portrayed the subsequent chaos in the Republican Reagan administration to both scary and comic effect.
Even if the miniseries turns out to be an inaccurate far-right-leaning political screed, who cares anyway?
I don't understand why so much anger develops so fast these days over this stuff (well I know why but...) when 90% of the films and documentaries produced unarguably favor the left.
Anyway...the following is a repost of a post I wrote on October 16, 2004 in opposition to the liberal blog led boycott movement against Sinclair Broadcasting Group advertisers for their airing of an anti-Kerry documentary prior to the election, and it pretty much can be applied to this situation also:
How Karl Rove May Beat Michael Moore
This is a transcript of a conversation between RNC chairman Ed Gillespie and Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor to the President Karl Rove that may have taken place a week-and-a-half ago:
Ed Gillespie - You rang, Karl?
Karl Rove - The wire attached to POTUS is experiencing technical difficulties, so, yes, I called you.
Ed Gillespie - Let me guess. You have something up your sleeves and I doubt that it's a rabbit.
Karl Rove - You are correct, sir, that it's not a rabbit.
Ed Gillespie - Good. We need something. The debate thing kind of backfired on us. We never should have agreed to it.
Karl Rove - That's what I personally promoted. But Dick and Donald overruled me. At least we reined in the majority of the pundits. Convinced them to keep their opinions to themselves in the important post-debate pre-opinion-poll period. Most people that didn't bother to watch the debates probably think they were all draws.
Ed Gillespie - True. The substance-as-opposed-to-style argument worked, as well.
Karl Rove - Keep this in your hat but I fear that our boy will do about the same in the last debate. Words are not his strong suit. But there's something that Edwards said in the Vice Presidential debate that I think we can exploit. Heaven help Kerry if he tries the same tactic. Americans believe overwhelmingly that it is wrong to attack the other candidate's family. They won't know what hit them.
Ed Gillespie - Sounds great. Sounds like vintage Rove stuff to me. Is that all you've got cooked up?
Karl Rove - No. There's something else. I happened to catch that silly "Day After Tomorrow" movie last night.
Ed Gillespie - I can't believe Roger Ailes pulled that shit on us.
Karl Rove - Surprising. But it does prove that Fox really is "fair and balanced."
Ed Gillespie - I wouldn't call that movie either of those things.
Karl Rove - Did you see it?
Ed Gillespie - No. But I don't have to. I've heard all I need to know about it. I'm sick of those perverted Hollywood fucks and the way they force their degenerate poison down everyone's throat.
Karl Rove - Well, I'm happy to announce that I may have developed a highly effective counterattack. A way to stop all the non-stop nonsense. A way for us to stop it but by keeping our hands clean.
Ed Gillespie - I'm in suspense. And not because of global warming.
Karl Rove - Good one. To make my plan work we need to find a film of our own. A film that tells our side of the story. But it needs to be a film that attacks Kerry without overtly supporting Bush.
Ed Gillespie - Sean Hannity just sent me a tape of a documentary called "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal." Real powerful stuff. Real former-p.o.w.s that tell the truth about how Kerry sold them out to the Communists and left them in grave danger.
Karl Rove - Good. Good. That might do the job.
Ed Gillespie - I'm dying, Karl. Tell me more.
Karl Rove - I was just speaking to our friends at the Sinclair Broadcasting Group. Remember how they worked with us to blackout that Nightline special presentation?
Ed Gillespie - Do I ever.
Karl Rove - Well, my plan is to get Sinclair to announce that they will be forcing their networks to run this documentary just a few weeks before the election.
Ed Gillespie - Why announce it? Won't that give the Democrats a chance to stop it?
Karl Rove - That's the point. We want them to try to stop it.
Ed Gillespie - I'm not following you.
Karl Rove - Look, Ed. These looney libs are gonna lose their fucking minds when they hear about this. Because it's going to be airing so close to the election, I expect that they'll make a lot of big waves, which will help promote it. Some of them will cry for equal time. Sinclair will offer time on the program for John Kerry to respond which he's sure to refuse.
Ed Gillespie - Sounds devious.
Karl Rove - These mutherfuckers have been killing us. Michael Moore is bad enough. But now every Tom, Dick and niggerloving Harry with a camcorder has been getting in on the act.
Ed Gillespie - But how will this stop that from happening.
Karl Rove - They will stop themselves. Minutes after the news account, I expect that there will be websites and blogs devoted to boycotts against Sinclair.
Ed Gillespie - That's what we would do.
Karl Rove - They'll raise such a fuss that - you mark my words - no television station, cable station or movie theater will ever try to pollute the airwaves with this partisan drivel ever again.
Ed Gillespie - Now I get it. Boycotts against advertisers will result in a freeze-out. Then nobody'll be able to watch their propaganda and lies.
Karl Rove - Trust me. It'll work like a charm. They'll never be able to condemn us as the book-burning party ever again. Fucking fools.
This - ahem - transcript is my attempt to protect the First Amendment. During the RNC takeover of Manhattan, I had many disagreements with fellow protestors who didn't seem to understand that freedom of speech applies to what they believe are lies, as well. Some of the most liberal liberals seemed to think that Fox News - for example - should be forced off the air. But, just like beauty, most lies are in the eye of the beholder, and no matter how upset you might get, there is no real way to stop it.
The day the news broke, a blogger named Trooth started a blog entitled Boycott Sinclair. On October 9th, I visited the blog and left this post:
At 5:14 PM, rab said...I think it's wrong that Michael Moore isn't being allowed to buy commercials to promote Fahrenheit 9/11 during this month before the election. I think it's wrong that the freepers forced CBS to yank The Reagans off the year. I think it's wrong when the religious right boycott advertisers because of sexual content in television shows. I think it's wrong when right wingers argue that boycotts (against companies because they advertise during shows that they believe are offensive) aren't attacks on free speech.
I think it's wrong that all the major media in this country are controlled by basically 5 companies and that there is a lot of bias against Democrats and liberals. I think it's wrong that the equal time standards were abolished during the Reagan area, because it is a betrayal of the public trust.
But I also think this is a bad idea, too.
I firmly believe in free speech. I firmly believe that no one should lose their job, liberties or life because of something they said, wrote or implied. I firmly believe that Fox News Corporation has the right to lie. I firmly believe that the Swift Boat Veterans are Truth are lying and despicable, but that they should have the right to express their opinions (though the media should have addressed the fact that their stories conflicted with prior statements and the facts in the Navy's files. I firmly believe that The New York Times, and especially Judith Miller, are more responsible for 1,000 plus soldiers dying in Iraq than anyone in the Bush Administration because they allowed it to happen in order to retain access (through the embedment program) and expand through Mr. Powell's machinations on the FCC panel.
Anyone who would sign on to this movement...is someone that I consider a friend of mine. Because we all hate what's going on. But this campaign is wrong. We lose everything we hold dear by trying to copycat people that try to suppress thoughts and words.
Instead of starting a boycott...I'd rather we raise hell about the hypocracy involved. How about a campaign to get them to show the George Butler movie, Fahrenheit 9/11 or Triumph of the Will (with Bush digitally inserted).
On my website, I sometimes write things that other people would consider outrageous, unpatriotic or even seditious. I've received many hate mails from Repuglicans. What scares me most about Bush is that our freedom of speech is in jeopardy. What do Scott Petersen, Martha Stewart and Lynn Stewart have in common? They have all been persecuted for words that they have said (though petersen might be guilty...he was only arrested because the police taped his conversations and slanted the contents of his conversations).
I'm sorry for not being supportive of this movement. But as a capital L liberal...I can't.
It's almost like the Ralph Nader thing. I'm a hardcore Kerry supporter and I wish Ralph would pull out...but I'm ashamed at all the Democrats who are working to contest his signatures etc.
We shouldn't be like the bad guys. Peace, friends.
My post drove some traffic to my site. I also recieved some e-mails that agreed with me and some that didn't. Trooth then posted this:Equal Time Thread It's not the law, but...Boycott Sinclair has picked up a wee bit of steam. Great. What do we do if this gets anywhere on Monday, when the Sinclair people get back to their desks? I have to say, I'm leaning towards asking for equal time. Sinclair shows "Going Upriver" or Fahrenheit 9/11 or "Outfoxed", and the calls and emails stop. Many reasonable people have warned against acting like the zealots on the right who forced Viacom to yank "The Reagans". Do they have a point? Since Reagan nixed it, Equal Time is no longer the law. But it is FAIR. Thoughts?
At 7:07 AM, rab said...Allow me to presume that I am one of the "reasonable" voices of dissent (although the freepers that come to my website might not use that adjective to describe me). I am glad to hear that you are leaning towards asking for equal time instead of a boycott.
A boycott could make us all losers. Networks and Theaters could refrain from showing ANY documentaries or politically tinged films in general in the future. Leave this sort of protest to the religious right and the enemies of the first amendment.
I mean. Come on. The shelves at the video stores are full of movies and documentaries that support our agenda. Even "The Day After Tomorrow" which comes out tomorrow is a film that can be described as anti-Bush and the corporated controlled government. We don't have much in the media (although I have high hopes for Air America) but we do have most of the artistic community on our side. I'd hate to see a day when anything controversial will be forced to go underground.
Again, though, I'd like to reiterate that even though I disapprove of this "movement" because I firmly believe that all speech and art should be protected and free from censure and censorship, I understand and sympathize completely. Peace.
An additional thought: We often talk about the evil genius that is Karl Rove. He's even quoted at the top of this blog. Couldn't this possibly be the most ingenious dirty trick ever concocted by that crafty bastard? To get the left (unwittingly) to help stop the non-stop barrage of left-leaning films (docs and dramas) which probably do more than anything else (since they reach audiences who don't read newspapers or have access to the internet) to get our messages across.
Certainly, if you believe that Karl Rove provided the possibly counterfeit documents that have damaged, disgraced and, most importantly, distracted CBS News, Dan Rather and both 60 Minutes shows, then you can accept the possibility that THIS could be another dastardly deception. Peace
One of the letters I received (I'm not gonna pull an Okrent and reveal the letter writer's name) attacked me for not reading all the posts, riding a "high horse" and getting on a "soap box." While it's true, that I do have my moments of holier-than-thou-ness, I believe that my posts on http://boycottsinclair.blogspot.com were carefully considered and soft spoken. This is a letter I wrote in response:
Dear ____, I read each and every comment before I commented myself. I believe that my words were sincere and respectfully written. I'm sorry you believe I speak from a soap box or a high horse. Would you like to boycott my opinion, too?
I hope you read the last post I put up in the latest thread. Has the thought ever occurred to you that this whole thing could be some kind of a devious Karl Rove ploy such as what the CBS controversy may turn out to be? That in order to defend against the myriad of left leaning documentaries and films that dominate the marketplace, why not get rid of all of them through the unwitting actions of people on the left. I don't want to live in a world in which provocation in art can only exist as an underground phenomenom.
My words were a vote for equal time instead of a boycott. Some other commenters agreed with this approach. But most, so far, that have left commented seem to be committed to a boycott. The moderator of the blog seems to now agree with the more liberal line of pursuit. I can only assume that my words might have helped contribute to his assumed shift.
Don't get me wrong. I completely agree with your anger and your views on the media and what it is and how it corrupts our democracy. I also agree that we need to do more than shout and write to the mostly already converted. Sometimes, I believe that "the fire next time" is the only way that real change will come about. Sometimes, I believe that the Black Panthers and the Weather Underground are the only sorts of movements that can save this country from tyranny. But...the peace symbol tattooed on my soul always holds me back.
Yes, we need to do more than just bitch and complain. Yes, we need to figure out some other approach that can help us achieve our worthy goals. But I don't believe in boycotts that are designed to stifle or suppress words. Boycotts, themselves, are not neccessarily wrong. Certainly, the boycotts of the Civil Rights Era that protested racist actions along with words were shining examples of democratic actions.
Like one of the hosts on Unfiltered just mentioned, it might even be a good thing that the equal access law doesn't still exist. Because, since Bush doesn't appear in the anti-Kerry bad-excuse-for-a-documentary he would be entitled to force them to show one in which he does appear even though the doc tacitly supports him. Peace, I'm sorry if you feel like I've attacked you in any way, Ron Brynaert
That same person wrote back, "I read as far as "would you like to boycott your opinion?" Um, no, obviously. Aren't I allowed to say you're dead wrong? You are. People are demanding equal time. You missed the point. The only reason I took the time to email you yourself is that I thought you'd be glad to rethink your point. Guess not."
You boycotted my opinion by not reading the rest of my letter. I believe that if you read it in whole, your anger against me would subside. Those were the only mildly inflammatory words that I wrote you in my letter. I have no desire to alienate or exasperate you. We're on the same side, and although we may disagree on the smaller things, we agree on the larger things. If you do end up continuing with the boycott...I support your right to do so. But I just wanted to interject my feelings on the matter...and hopefully to encourage a - in my opinion - more justifiable campaign. Peace.
On Friday, Michael Moore, while appearing on Jay Leno's Tonight Show, offered his documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11" free of charge to Sinclair Broadcasting Group. I wrote a letter to Mr. Moore asking him what he thought of the boycott, but I haven't heard back from him and doubt that I will (he must get thousands of e-mail each day), but I believe this offer is my answer.
As I write this, the last post by Trooth on this site reads:DEMAND EQUAL TIME I believe it's time to turn the focus from boycott to Equal Time. The Sinclair "news piece" will run, period. Let's get out there at Monday's protests and give the media OUR view.
My latest post on Boycott Sinclair:
At 11:37 AM, rab said...Trooth, I think you are truly awesome for leaning toward the equal time argument.
I don't know Trooth's secret identity, but he deserves a blurb. Check out his normal blog at Truth: Served Daily and tell him I sent you.