by Scoobie Davis
Alec Baldwin Is In Da House
Far from being a millstone around progressives' necks, Hollywood people are a credit to this nation. Take, for example, Al Franken. When Rush Limbaugh was running roughshod over the truth and declaring a jihad against anyone who opposed the radical right, who spoke up against him? I remember well. I was waiting for a member of Congress or the mainstream media to step up and take on this lying bully. It took an SNL comedy writer to put Limbaugh in his place.
I always liked Alec Baldwin (even though I chuckled when I watched the film Team America: World Police). For one thing, the only time I heard Greg Palast's name uttered on network television was when Baldwin was on Politically Incorrect and brought up his work on the disenfranchisement of tens of thousands of mostly minority voters.
Another thing I like about Baldwin is that he is who he is. He's an urban sophisticate and he doesn't play it down (which he could easily do; the man is an actor and did a good performance of a working class joe in Outside Providence). Let's contrast Baldwin with the phony "working class" who's-looking-out-for-you? routine performed transparently by Bill O'Reilly. One of the tragedies of O'Reilly's recent sex scandal is that few people had quipped about the oddness of a supposed regular joe like O'Reilly asking two women twenty-five years his junior for a threesome (not that there's anything wrong with a threesome--it's just not typical for a guy who acts like he's Mr. Working Class).
Anyhoo, I caught Baldwin on Jon Favreau's show Dinner for Five on IFC yesterday and he had some noteworthy comments when Tracey Ullman mentione the apocryphal claim that Baldwin said he would leave America if Bush were elected in 2000:
BALDWIN: I never said that but what you find with these people in these right-wing fascist media outlets is it sounds like something that they want you to have said--so they promulgate that said it, but I never said it. Never. As a matter of fact, the producer of O'Reilly's show sent a handwritten letter to my home in New York and my home in Long Island and it said, "come on my show and do Bill O'Reilly's show." I said that I'll come on the show if you do me a favor: Do a Lexis search and find the audio clip, the videotape clip, or printed transcript where I made that statement attributed to me and he said, "I can't do that." They need to have that ammunition to marginalize and diminish. That's their thing now is to quash dissent. . . There are different types of people who have an inordinate amount of media access. Corporate executives have that. So when corporate executives try to influence public policy to directly line their pockets and the pockets of their shareholders, no one questions that. But when actors espouse something that's not in their economic interests--I've never tried to line my pockets with what I say--I say, "why don't we do more of X that's going to be for the greater good of people in our society," people always think that's odd.
Baldwin makes a good point. The right has tried to make political hay over the involvement of Hollywood in politics and have tried to stigmatize the Democrats for their ties with Hollywood (e.g., as I'm writing this, James Hirsen of Christopher Ruddy's NewMax is on O'Reilly's show bashing the Hollywood left). We have to do more to highlight the GOP's friends who deserve stigma. For instance, the Reverend Sun Myung Moon has gotten a lot of mileage outof his speaking fees given to people like George H. W. Bush and William Bennett. Former Moonies say that pictures of Moon with former President Bush are used in the recruitment of members to Moon's depraved cult. Why aren't Democrats exploiting Moon and other moral pariahs on the right?
Afterthought: Actually, in a way, the Reverend Sun Myung Moon is a film person. He was the mastermind behind the mega-flop Inchon. I guess it shows that the totalitarian mind can't create good art. Think: Socialist Realism.
UPDATE: John Gorenfeld has more on Moon and Inchon--it's an amusing (but disturbing) read.