It’s not just the right-wing spear carriers who are slamming me, incorrectly, for allegedly advocating a Sen. Joseph McCarthy-esque response to Jon Voight‘s 7.28 Washington Times op-ed piece trashing Barack Obama. A liberal friend has taken me to task for this also. Obviously the McCarthy thing has gotten some traction, so let’s review the basics and examine what I actually said and meant.
The paragraph that led to the freak-out read as follows: “[Voight is] obviously entitled to say and write whatever he wants. But it’s only natural that industry-based Obama supporters will henceforth regard him askance. Honestly? If I were a producer and I had to make a casting decision about hiring Voight or some older actor who hadn’t pissed me off with an idiotic Washington Times op-ed piece, I might very well say to myself, ‘Voight? Let him eat cake.'”
I was just being honest about how I might theoretically react if I was in a position to hire or not hire Voight — big deal. That’s several football fields away from suggesting or even implying that producers should band together and deny employment to Voight because he wrote an idiotic op-ed piece. I hope it’s not a shock to anyone that people tend to hire according to whims and hunches, likes and dislikes, alliances and contretemps. Producers hire or don’t hire people all the time because an actor is liked or disliked, because a friend thinks he’s an asshole or a good guy, because the actor and the producer go to the same fitness club or their kids know each other, etc.
I was just indulging in a feeling that I might have — a momentary “fuck Jon Voight” impulse that I might feel or give voice to — if I were a producer. Admit it — it feels good to stick it to people you don’t like or strongly disagree with. (Again, I urge everyone to read Voight’s op-ed article — it’s certifiable.) As I said to an HE reader on the same page, “I didn’t say I had a shit list, or that I believe in the idea of one. I just said it feels good to think of shit-listing certain people. As a fun fantasy. Not that I think for a second that anyone would give a damn.”
I also said that “my own view is that you always work with the best people you can, regardless of political affiliation. Stanley Kubrick was absolutely correct to hire Adolf Menjou as the cynical French general in Paths of Glory, despite Menjou’s reprehensible right-wing views that included supporting the blacklist. Because Menjou was superb in the part. He wasn’t just giving a performance as that guy — he seemed to “be” him.
I also said “good for Cecil B. DeMille, that awful, sanctimonious, two-faced Bible-thumping vulgarian, for giving Edward G. Robinson a job on The Ten Commandments. Seriously — that was a good and compassionate thing he did, even if he was a prick and a bully at heart.”
It should always be about the work and the potential of this or that artist to be extra-sublime in the service of a movie, and not some political bullshit. At the same time we’re all human and prey to certain vengeance impulses from time to time. My error was in admitting such impulses exist within me. But they exist within all of us.
All the right-wingers who wrote me this morning calling me “a left-wing faggot” and whatnot can blow me.