Jonah — My point (perhaps inartfully made) is that the decision to make the Bourne movies is not evidence of Hollywood’s ideological leanings because the movies should have been made regardless of their political content given the quality of the source material. I’m also not convinced that the movies are any more left-leaning than the books. The sub-plots that were omitted cut both ways, and Ludlum was quite lefty. I think better evidence of the leanings comes from movies that twist the source material in an ideological direction, movies based on source material that can’t help but have ideological leanings, and the refusal to make movies with overt non-lefty political messages.
As for your correspondent’s Ross Douthat’s comparison between Bourne and Bond, I’m not sure I accept the Bourne-as-anti-Bond argument, particularly if one looks at the Bond of Ian Fleming’s books as opposed to the movies (particularly the later Connery and Moore movies). Fleming’s Bond and Ludlum’s Bourne are both very “human” characters — they have weaknesses and get hurt. The movie characters are less so, but this is true in both cases. So call me agnostic on that point.
Speaking of Bond, I’ve been pondering the ideological aspects of the latest Bond movie, Quantum of Solace (which, incidentally, I think is excellent). [WARNING — POTENTIAL SPOILERS] On the one hand, the movie could be characterized as anti-American — certainly more so than most bond films. Specifically, the United States is portrayed as quite immoral, willing to jump into bed with whatever dictator or corporate interest (although the “good” Americans are redeemed in the end). On the other hand, the chief baddie pretends to be an environmental entrepreneur, who causes fake environmental crises and uses his faux environmental investements as cover for his evil corporate plot. [He’s practically a character from Michael Crichton’s State of Fear.] And, to top it off, he constructs a noisy, highly combustible fuel-cell-powered HQ for the dictator-du-jour.