Monday, March 31, 2003
Hollywood and politics.
Among the many critics of Moore's speech on Oscar night was actor Cliff Robertson who said the next day, "I don't think the Oscars are a forum for political posturing".
Hang on. We're talking about Hollywood here. The idea that the film industry isn't about politics is exactly the sort of deceptive myth-making Moore loves to rip wide open. Hollywood and politics have been in bed together since Adam and Eve.
Well almost. Since the late 1890s. Soon after the United States declared war on Spain in 1898, movie-goers in New York were treated to the film Tearing Down the Spanish Flag, showing American troops seizing power from the Spanish in Havana. It was a fictitious demonstration of a political wish, it stirred the hearts of the hometown audience to great patriotism, and it was the beginning of relations between motion pictures and propaganda.
Which is fine, except that, unless you mean "Hollywood" as shorthand for the American film industry in general, Hollywood has NOT been in bed with politics since the late 1890s for the simple reason that Hollywood didn't exist then as a film-producing centre. The first film shot anywhere in California didn't appear until about 1908, I think, and the first film made in what is now Hollywood didn't appear until 1910, and not until late 1911 was the first studio built there.