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Bold and Brave Hollywood Types?
The fraud and self-delusion is so stunning.


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Jonah Goldberg

Full disclosure: I thought the Emmy’s last night was a pretty good show. Gary Shandling is funny. The skits were pretty good. And I can’t remember a single musical or dance routine that went on long enough to bother me. Moreover, I love TV. TV is my friend. I watch TV a lot. I’ve watched TV a lot. I plan on watching a lot more TV. So, I liked last night’s show and I like TV. It’s just the people I hate.

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No really, hate is the right word. I … hate…them. Maybe not all of them — Michael J. Fox seems an all right guy and Letterman’s great. But just as plain women look more attractive when travelling in groups of really attractive women, well-adjusted people seemed like preening egotistical bandersnatches when bunched together with Hollywood folk.

Now, I confess, a big reason why I hate Hollywood types is because they are stupid (Tori Spelling once said “New Jersey?” when asked what the capital of New York was. Alec Baldwin once said, “listen to me.”). But stupidity alone is a cruel thing to hold against somebody. Not as cruel as a hot poker, but cruel nonetheless.

What drives me nuts about Hollywood types are their earnest attempts to convince the rest of us that they are A) huge risk-takers. B) extremely bright and C) just like everybody else.

Last night there was a montage-tribute dedicated to the “bold” men and women who “dared” tackle the “controversial” issues in their art. Examples included Alan Alda, who boldly appeared in six episodes of ER as a doctor suffering from Alzheimer’s — for which he was paid millions of dollars. There were clips of If These Walls Could Talk II (note to Hollywood, by definition there’s something un-path-breaking to a film which ends in “II.” Sequels are not bold, they are kitsch) HBO’s The Sopranos, and Introducing Dorothy Dandridge as well as NBC’s Will and Grace also appeared in this loving tribute to those unrecognized vehicles for social progress. Each won several Emmy awards making them at least a little less than unrecognized.

But the fraud and self-delusion in all of this is so stunning. Winner after winner alluded to their own boldness and bravery. What bravery? What boldness? Will and Grace is a very well-written show that goes a long way to glorify and mainstream homosexuality. Putting aside moral arguments, what is so brave about that in Hollywood? It is a bedrock and unshakable article of faith in Hollywood that homosexuality confers secular sainthood.

The executive producer of Will and Grace said, “this gives whole new meaning of the phrase ‘acceptance speech.’” Yeah, I get it. But looking out over the sea of tuxedo’s festooned with ribbons in support of liberal causes, did the executive producers really think that they weren’t accepted by the television industry? Moreover, do they think that acceptance by a monolithic herd of extreme social liberals translates into “acceptance” out in fly-over country? And lastly, how bold and risky could the show be, if the industry not only accepted it but gave it its highest honor right out of the gate. It would seem to me a truly controversial show wouldn’t win an Emmy right away.

Somehow, Hollywood producers and actors seem to think that getting paid millions of dollars to do things all of their friends find not just socially acceptable, but really, really cool is the moral equivalent of Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn writing a book on a roll of toilet paper in the Gulag. I am cutting this column short because I want to watch Al Gore on Oprah. Okay “want” is a strong word. I feel it’s my social duty. Oprah just said that after the commercial break they will talk about Al kissing his wife — they “have to talk about that kiss!” she declared.

Also, my day got off to a slow start because I had to moderate a panel about Joe Lieberman (who looks like a rodeo clown who hasn’t had all of his make-up removed yet, a friend of mine noted) for the third annual Toward Tradition convention. It will be on C-SPAN and you should catch Michael Medved’s talk. It was quite good.

And lastly, this is the second anniversary of this column, so I deserve a break.



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