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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-26-2007, 03:40 PM Thread Starter
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If Hollywood is run by liberals, ...

... a widely accepted bit of lore, why do they not write and produce good liberal films?



Remembering Norma Rae


[from the March 12, 2007 issue]

Editor's Note: If they gave an Academy Award for the year's best progressive film, who would the winner be? Cast your vote in The Nation poll.

Here are some words you are unlikely to hear in any of the movie clips shown during the Academy Awards this year:

Ladies and gentlemen, the textile industry, in which you are spending your lives and your substance...is the only industry in the whole length and breadth of these United States of America that is not unionized. Therefore, they are free to exploit you, to lie to you, to cheat you and to take away from you what is rightfully yours--your health, a decent wage, a fit place to work.

"Unionized" isn't a word you hear in many American movies. "A decent wage," now there's a phrase that doesn't crop up too often. As for the evocative "your lives and your substance," poetic descriptions of the human condition aren't generally found in contemporary entertainment.

This speech is from Martin Ritt's classic 1979 film Norma Rae, delivered in an impassioned sermon by Ron Leibman in the role of an organizer for the Textile Workers Union of America, a real union at the time and a predecessor to the current trade union UNITE HERE. Norma Rae is an aberration in recent Hollywood history. The movie portrays a realistic union-organizing campaign and the fierce corporate response at the fictional O.P. Henley textile mill in the fictional town of Henleyville. As everyone knew at the time, the mill and the town were unambiguous stand-ins for J.P. Stevens and its sixteen-year war against union organizers in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina, and the movie accurately depicted the state of American labor in 1979.

The situation has not improved much since. The only remaining Stevens factory in the United States (owned by its successor company, Westpoint Home) is a unionized blanket mill in Maine. In other industries, union organizers are battling adversaries as unyielding as any in the days of Norma Rae. According to the labor advocacy group American Rights at Work, last year more than 23,000 Americans were fired or penalized for legal union activity.

On a human level, Norma Rae is the story of one woman, played by Sally Field, who finds redemption risking her life for economic justice, and of factory workers demanding to be treated as more than slaves. In the realm of the political, it is virtually the only American movie of the modern era to deal substantially with any of these subjects. Even today it remains iconic--a major studio movie about the lives of working people with a profound and, for its time, disturbing political message: The little guy may have a prayer of getting social justice, but he'll have to fight desperately to get it. Try to think of a contemporary American film with a similar message or a political statement anywhere near that blunt. The closest thing to a message in this year's crop of Oscar nominees for Best Picture can be found in Babel, which poses the rather mild question, Why can't we all just get along?

European filmmakers, like England's Ken Loach and Mike Leigh, don't shy from the subject of class. Loach's Bread and Roses dramatized the 1990 Service Employees International Union's Justice for Janitors campaign in Los Angeles, and Leigh's entire career is virtually a paean to the working class. This is not to say that American studios don't make topical mainstream films. A kind of renaissance seemed to be blossoming in 2005, with material as varied as Good Night, and Good Luck and The Constant Gardener. But Blood Diamond--about the 1990s civil war in Sierra Leone partly sparked by international diamond speculators--was perhaps this season's only major studio picture that could be called politically daring, and it was a box-office disappointment. In the end, of course, financially successful or not, such movies don't fundamentally threaten the established order. They're well-crafted stories delivering conventional wisdom with considerable artistic skill.

More at: http://www.thenation.com/docprint.mh...&s=nathan-mort
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-26-2007, 05:52 PM
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A good example of how Hollywood lacks the commitment to liberal causes that it professes to embrace is the 2000 movie Harlan County War. It took on the story of the coal miners strike in Harlan County in the 1970’s [a dramatic movie of the Academy Award winning documentary Harlan County USA].

This movie emotes the strained lives of the residents, the struggles that many of families go through and highlights the abject poverty of the area. So imagine everyone’s surprise when it was decided that all filming would be done in CANADA as it was less expensive. No sense putting any money into the Harlan County economy. No reason to enhance the lives of any of the people that were featured in the story.

When the movie was finished and they were ready for its premiere, the network PR machine was in full swing, ready to bring Hollywood to Harlan for the premiere. Harlan kindly told them that they might want to head North to Canada.


Being smart is knowing the difference, in a sticky situation between a well delivered anecdote and a well delivered antidote - bear.
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-26-2007, 05:54 PM
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Hollywood means well but falls short most of the time.
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-27-2007, 05:25 AM
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If Hollywood is run by liberals, ...

Originally Posted by Botnst
... a widely accepted bit of lore, why do they not write and produce good liberal films?


Guns, car chases, explosions, Ben Stiller, Adam Sandler, Doh Wahlberg, populist teenage pap ..'negative social value' sells.
They prefer ego & money before principles or arrrggghh ETHICS !


The Central Intelligence Agency owns everyone of any significance in the major media. William Colby, former CIA Director
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