Feb. 23, 2009
"You Commie homo-loving sons of guns! I did not expect this, but I - and I want to be very clear that I do know how hard I make it to appreciate me. Often. But I - I am touched by the appreciation and I hoped for it enough that I scribbled down - so I have the names in case you were Commie homo-loving sons of guns."
In case you were trapped in an elevator during the Academy Awards, or landing in a USAir Jet on the Hudson River, you doubtless know by now that the above quote was part of Sean Penn's acceptance speech for his Oscar in the film, Milk.
For once, let's not focus on homosexuals. Or even on guns. Let's consider instead that toss-away line about Commies. The Hollywood glitterati cheered and laughed to have themselves so described by one of their favorite bad boys. And maybe, with Penn's blessing, we can use the Russian pronunciation-Gollyvood.
Was Ronald Reagan the last American concerned about Communism in Gollyvood? Reagan's gripping story of facing down the post-WWII threat of Communist infiltration in the movies is something all Americans should know. Gollyvood, when it responds at all, lionizes the blacklisted writers and stars. But it was Reagan who, as President of the Screen Actors Guild, had to face anonymous threats of acid being thrown in his face. Reagan had to sleep with a pistol under his pillow. Reagan knew the Communists' bid to shape Americans' ideas was serious business.
I often encounter conservative friends who deplore Gollyvood's anti-American turn. It's not like the good old days, they say, when Gollyvood churned out patriotic films like Yankee Doodle Dandy and Casablanca. Maybe not, I answer, but can you point to an American war that Gollyvood supported that Joe Stalin did not support first?
Conservative film critic Michael Medved explains that 1992 was the first year when Gollyvood began to make more money overseas than at home. I caught up with Michael last fall and asked him if this was still the case. No, he said, today, Gollyvood makes three-quarters of its money from outside-the-U.S. ticket sales. This explains a lot.
The problem is a very old one. In the 1930s, as ex-Communist Ronald Radosh writes in Red Star over Hollywood, Stalin made a concerted effort to penetrate the U.S. film industry. It wasn't hard. One of his top agents joked: "Columbus may have discovered America, but I discovered Hollywood."
The fact that Sean Penn can jokingly refer to his fellow actors and producers as Commies is disturbing. Gollyvood once gave Oscars to The Killing Fields, the film version of the mass murders that Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge inflicted on Cambodia after the collapse of South Vietnam. There, everyone who had a drivers license, or even one who wore spectacles, was subject to being killed because he or she was seen as fatally infected by Western ideas. Except when Gollyvood got around to making the movie version, viewers were given impression that it was Nixon's fault.
It was French Leftists-the kind of folks normally embraced by Gollyvood-who have given us The Black Book of Communism. There, these philosophical Marxists document the killing of 100 million people in the 20th Century by their own Communist governments.
Compare the rollicking reception Sean Penn got with the international uproar when Britain's Prince Harry showed up in a Nazi uniform at a private costume party. The dim-witted Harry was quickly hustled off for sensitivity training. One assumes he might have shown up in Gollyvood as a kahgehbeest-KGB agent--replete with sky-blue shoulder boards, and it would have been laughed off.
Gollyvood has made some excellent movies about World War II and the Holocaust. And it keeps making them. Sixty-four years after Hitler shot himself, Gollyvood can be relied upon to keep shooting Nazis. Long-dead Nazis are so much easier to fight than former bosses of the Gulag. Or today's Al Qaeda terrorists. It feels so morally right-and it's a lot safer, too.