How Woke is Hollywood?

Hollywood is, of course, liberal but is it good at being liberal? No. The entertainment industry has a selection bias, an obvious one. Their education is, mostly, in theater and the arts. Their literary godfather from the interwar years would be Picasso while mine would be Steinbeck. For them, the paragons of the left are the Bloomsbury Group and bohemia not the Wobblies, the SDS, and the Yippes like they are for me. Their ultimate sixties radical is Andy Warhol while mine is Abbie Hoffman because napalmed children were a distant consideration for them. Between the folk and bohemian side of the left, I lean toward the folk. When bohemia gets political, it tends toward identity politics.

Identity politics tends to be myopic and fails to appreciate the humanity of their subject matter in their arts. It’s like watching Phantom of the Opera and neglecting to realize the fact that it is set in an operahouse in 1880, patronized largely by people who make their money by making toddlers lose fingers in sweatshops to die of cholera with an immune system weakened by scurvy in an overcrowded slum. Christine, in the story, was apparently a devout Christian but, if that was so, why didn’t she go on stage and tell the robber barons to go fuck themselves and to let their chattel breathe free and experience daylight. By not doing that, she was complicit in the moral equivilent of a genocide.

True wokeness should entail a concern for the plight of everyone with no exceptions. To use the example from the last paragraph, if something is set during the gilded age then sweatshops need to be mentioned. So should imperialism. Not every social issue from a particular time and place needs (those were just examples but could be replaced with something else) to be included but a level of social consciousness needs to be conveyed. Like I said in an earlier article, Barbie would do well to mention the 85,000 homeless people in Los Angeles since she lives in Malibu. People live private lives despite living in an interconnected world and that needs to be replaced with a civicism where everyone is, at least, slightly public in their life.

You may not think about it when watching The Great Gatsby but eugenics, Lenin’s NEP, the Indian Independence movement, Jim Crow, the rise of Mussolini, German hyperinfaltion, and more were all happening. Yet, artistic works happen in a vacuum. They either have a single issue on their social consciousness or none. This does not convey the appropriate social consciousness needed for the civicism the average citizen needs to possess. Leo DiCaprio could easily have adjusted the script of the 2013 The Great Gatsby to allude to any of those items. Jay Gatsby lived in a world of fascists, communists, imperialists, and resistance movements to all of them which is very good material for a script since they are extremely fun topics.

Their myopic approach to social consciousness is apparent elsewhere. Possibly, my least favorite and most despised left-wing movie is V for Vendetta. Why would Natalie Portman volunteer for a movie whose title literally has something evil in it: a vendetta? Deriving sadistic schadenfreude from the snuffing out some mother’s baby repeatedly is the opposite of why I joined the left. That’s (deescribing the movie the way I just did) not how the artsy people on the left think, that is how the labor and anti-war parts of the left think. Natalie Portman also participated in the Thor franchise. This is a curious choice, there were lots of polytheistic pantheons to choose from and yet as the far-right was ascending, Hollywood chose the Nordic pantheon. The Confederate Flag of pantheons. Their defense may be that Nazis perverted the original pantheon but the original pantheon had nothing, in the normative, to stop Vikings from rape, theft, murder, and slavery.

Wokeness is to build a fair, just, loving, and kind society and Hollywood isn’t doing that and they never try. Then again, I doubt they know how to make moral art. For all of the supposed “Easter Eggs” Taylor Swift weaves into her pieces, she ultimately says nothing deep. A much better Easter Egg is Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” from “The Republic” which literally foreshaddows Easter. There is nothing Easter in her canon. There is no hope, there is no redemption, there is no sacrifice out of love, there is nothing selfless, there is no moral courage to do what is hard and unpopular but righteous. There are no moral virtues or truths of the human condition best expressed through metaphor which makes art deep that she has to say. Her canon, like most of Hollywood, could not give half a shit about global warming, the literacy rate, poverty, plastic pollution, or literally anything. It is devoid of almost any compassion or artistic depth.

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