You might want to read Todd Purdum’s long, well-reported story from Politico, about how Hollywood is freaking out over Trump, just for the big fat gob of Schadenfreude at the top. Here’s a glistening, savory morsel:
There has also been denial and cocooning, More than a few liberals report that they have faced the rise of the alt-right movement by just retreating and binge-watching the idealistic alt-reality of all seven seasons of “The West Wing.”
“My sense, in psychiatric terms, is that everybody is still ‘splitting,’” says a longtime political consultant to major entertainment figures, speaking on condition of anonymity so as not to offend clients. “They’re putting the election result on the shelf and are in some kind of denial, so they can just keep putting one foot in front of the other. It came as such a huge shock. People believed, understandably enough, that everything that could be done was being done and it was being done well.”
But read on, because there’s some genuinely interesting stuff here about why the entertainment industry is the way it is — that is, why the same junk gets made over and over again. Excerpt:
A prominent network executive summed up the sense of shock in the industry to me. “One thing interesting is that people in L.A. and Hollywood, we supposedly have our finger on the pulse of the American people,” he said. “And one of the things that people feel truly rocked by now—truly rocked—is that those of us who spend our lives anticipating and understanding the tastes and the preferences of the American people suddenly have to wonder whether what we’re feeling is causing us to make, for a large part of the audience, the wrong thing. And that the agenda a lot of our creators have is a reinforcing loop of a lot of things that people have just rejected.
“Because,” the executive added, “people here exist in a closed feedback loop and writers’ rooms that are similarly liberal, where nobody voted for Donald Trump. So their feedback is completely distorted on the meaning of this, and what to do about it.”
Hollywood is always a bit surprised when a Christian-themed movie or a red-meat patriotic film like “American Sniper” becomes a hit, because such works embody a basic conservative value set that most of the industry doesn’t share.
“Everyone sits around the writers’ rooms or on a notes call and nods in agreement and that’s how we get shows like ‘Transparent’ and ‘American Crime Story,’” says Quinton Peeples, a writer and the producer of shows like Hulu’s recent Stephen King adaptation “11-22-63” and TNT’s “The Last Ship,” who also happens to be that rarity in Hollywood, a practicing Christian. “Now, I’m not arguing that’s a bad thing. I’m just pointing out how it works. Then we have a bunch of awards shows to pat each other on the back and talk about what a challenge it has been to bring the ‘truth’ to television.”
“I can’t count the times I have gone out with pitches that represent the point of view I grew up with in small-town Texas, only to find there is no appetite for something that is derisively referred to as a red state show,” Peeples adds. “Because no one can go to a kids’ birthday party over the weekend and brag about the great numbers they are getting with their ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ reboot. And at the end of the day, that’s what they want on a personal level: to have someone whisper as they pass, ‘That’s the “Black Mirror” guy.’ ”
Some people like to say that money rules the creative industry, that Hollywood will cold-bloodedly make what sells. That’s just not true. There’s a lot of status involved. I remember seeing a trailer last year for “Miss Sloane,” the political thriller starring Jessica Chastain as a heroic Washington lobbyist who advocates for universal background checks on gun buyers. Along with her scrappy band of diverse helpers, she outsmarts the wicked gun industry lobbyists. Honestly, who the heck wants to see that kind of movie? Needless to say, it bombed. But Jessica Chastain got a Golden Globe nomination, and the Alliance of Women Film Journalists nominated her for, ahem, “bravest performance.” (As opposed to all those cowardly performances?)