Pay no attention to that idiotic new biopic.1:11 PM, Nov 20, 2015 • By BENJAMIN WELTON
Like a lot of people my age and older, I first discovered Dalton Trumbo through Metallica. Spurred on by many late night viewings of the haunting video for the band’s anti-war single “One,” I discovered Johnny Got His Gun—Trumbo’s 1939 novel that inspired the 1971 film adaptation, which in turn became the intellectual jet-fuel powering the dueling engines of James Hatfield and Kirk Hammett’s electric guitars.
I soon discovered that Metallica’s aural assault had nothing on Trumbo’s feverish prose. Johnny Got His Gun, which agonizingly details the tortured inner life of Joe Bonham, a World War I veteran who has been confined to a hospital bed for years due to the loss of his arms, legs, and entire face, remains among the most horrific narratives ever committed to paper.
Inspired by a newspaper article he had read about the Prince of Wales’s visit to a horribly disfigured Canadian soldier, Trumbo’s Johnny Got His Gun drips with a rage so fierce that it makes Wilfred Owen’s “Dulce Et Decorum Est” seem like something written on a latrine wall by a professional milksop. Indeed, Trumbo’s anger would prove to be eternally hot. When Johnny Got His Gun was first serialized in the Communist newspaper The Daily Worker, it dug its fingernails into the veins of the isolationist left and right, both of which were incensed by the very idea of American boys joining yet another European war. But even years after the Second World War and his own blacklisting in Hollywood due to Communist leanings, Trumbo remained defiant and continued to apply the message of Johnny Got His Gun to the American foreign policy that developed during the Cold War.
In the introduction to the novel’s 1970 reissue, Trumbo continues to lecture the American people about their indifference to warfare by sarcastically asking about “our 300,000 wounded” in Vietnam while in the midst of Memorial Day revelers. For all its grandstanding about the horrors of trench warfare and its chiding reminder that “World War I began like a summer festival,” Johnny Got His Gun is really about all wars—past, present, and future. Before the proliferation of bumper stickers declaring that “I am already against the next war , Trumbo created the ultimate expression of unquestioned pacifism on the eve of the 20th century’s greatest conflagration.
This version of Trumbo—politically radical, viscerally doctrinaire—does not appear in Jay Roach’s newly released film Trumbo. Based on the Bruce Alexander Cook’s biography of the same name, Trumbo tells a well-worn tale about the moment when Hollywood woke up to the fact that Tinseltown was underwater. Most of the sea was rosewater, with a vast assortment of pink “co-travellers,” but as Allan Ryskind shows in Hollywood Traitors, there were plenty of hardline Stalinists and admirers of Adolf Hitler working to undermine American culture from within the studio system, as well. And like a lot of the mythologized “Hollywood Ten,” Trumbo was in fact a Soviet lackey who followed the Comintern’s lines like a sacred screenplay.
Of course, this history makes for poor copy in today’s Hollywood, which has increasingly become dependent upon those denizens of the Internet who see politics and entertainment as two sides of the same cudgel. The better story, for their purposes, is that Trumbo was a victim of political bigotry. Like Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Trumbo was a freethinker who did not fall into the atavistic mindset that demanded a puritanical allegiance to God, country, and American capitalism, you see. Trumbo names and shames the protagonist’s “oppressors,” from the fiercely anti-communist gossip columnist Hedda Hopper (played by Helen Mirren) to the ardent American nationalist John Wayne (played by David James Elliott). In other words, the enemies were Republicans—much like today.
Of whitewashing and blacklisting.Nov 23, 2015, Vol. 21, No. 11 • By FRED BARNES
Screenwriter Dalton Trumbo died in 1976, but Hollywood still hasn’t gotten over its high regard for him. He is the subject of a new movie, Trumbo, that lionizes him as a passionate supporter of the First Amendment and free speech, a true patriot. But that defines Trumbo only in terms congenial to the political culture of the Hollywood left.
8:14 AM, Jul 23, 2015 • By LISA SCHIFFREN
Have you ever wondered what would happen if the conservative fantasy of taking over the culture came to pass? What if one major movie studio, and a few popular actors, comedians, writers, directors were conservative?
Producers would still have to work within the current social reality of a sexually promiscuous, morally untethered, post Judeo-Christian culture, of course. Audiences don’t pay for heavy handed, feel bad lectures. Where would you start?
11:17 AM, Jul 8, 2015 • By MICHAEL WARREN
As the negotiations over a nuclear deal with Iran drag on in Vienna, the Boston Globe's Matt Viser provides an inside look at how the United States delegation spends its time as the top diplomats confer. Among the details about snacks and American officials falling asleep is a nugget about the U.S. delegation's Hollywood fantasies:
8:35 AM, Dec 18, 2014 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
In October 1940, Americans flocked to movie theaters to see Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator, mocking the most powerful tyrant on the globe. In December 2014, movie theaters and then the production company cancelled the release of The Interview because of threats of terror from a tinpot, though totalitarian and evil, tyrant who rules a weak and decrepit nation.
9:01 AM, Dec 15, 2014 • By ELI LEHRER
It’s easy to see how Mississippi attorney general Jim Hood—a Bible-reading, pro-gun, pro-life, Democrat—has survived in statewide office even as his already conservative state has turned a deeper shade of red. Quite simply, he’s a likeable, quotable guy who doesn’t seem to have forgotten his roots in New Houlka, Mississippi (population 626).
Valerie Jarrett retweets.3:21 PM, Nov 17, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Open enrollment for health insurance plans under Obamacare is currently underway, and some of the biggest celebrities in Hollywood and elsewhere are out there promoting it on Twitter. Furthermore, it appears there could be some coordination with the White House, with top Obama aide Valerie Jarrett retweeting a number of those celebrities, one after the other.
10:31 AM, Oct 10, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
A new video by the Environmental Policy Alliance mocks Hollywood celebrity Leonardo DiCaprio for being "just another celebrity hypocrite" when it comes to the topic of climate change:
9:46 PM, Oct 9, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
The host gushed at the sight of President Obama. The setting was a Democratic fundraiser at the home of Hollywood star Gwyneth Paltrow.
"You’re so handsome that I can’t speak properly," Paltrow told Obama at the fundraiser in her backyard.
The Hollywood star wished the president had even more power to accomplish even more things. As the pool report phrased it:
11:43 AM, May 9, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Beverly Hills has banned fracking. Which makes it "the first municipality in California to prohibit the controversial technique for extracting natural gas and oil from underground rock deposits," according to Reuters.
'I'm a really good nag.'11:46 AM, Mar 28, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
A top of advisor to President Barack Obama is in Los Angeles to try to get Obamacare written into scripts of TV shows and movies. Valerie Jarrett explained in an appearance on Top That! on PopSugar.com:
"That's the cool thing," a host said to the presidential advisor. "You've been reaching out to people that are, you know, outside of the norm of what the president might work with. Who else are you working with? Like celebrities, personalities, things like that?"
7:37 AM, Jan 10, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
The federal agency that oversees the Voice of America is seeking someone to produce a TV entertainment show to be broadcast in Iran in the Farsi language that includes "Hollywood news" and "other interesting aspects of life on the West Coast of the United States." The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), whose board members include Secretary of State John Kerry, is
9:06 AM, Sep 6, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
One industry badly hit last month was "the motion picture and sound recording industry," according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. From the jobs report released this morning:
Within information, the motion picture and sound recording industry lost 22,000 jobs in August, following a gain of 8,000 in July.