I feel pretty good for a guy who had neck and shoulder surgery three days ago. I have an appetite, I walk around like Kharis, I’m strong enough to think and write and prepare my own tana leaf broth, etc. The only problem is the stabbing pain in my left shoulder. And so, like a baby getting a bottle feeding, I awake at 2 or 3 am for pain meds. And as long as I’m up I check the HE comments and twitter.
Lo and behold, this morning I read two heartening messages in the “Un-Sundanced by Wokers” thread — one from author, critic and SF State film professor Joseph McBride (aka “Bob Hightower”), and a second from a guy I don’t personally know or agree with at all — Breitbart columnist John Nolte. But their words of support felt good. Twitter shriekers will probably conclude I’m no longer a lefty iconoclast because I’m grateful for Nolte’s message. But in my head I’m separating what he’s saying about my situation and whom he’s aligned with politically. Nobody wants to live in a lefty fascist world but at the same time I can’t wait for Beto O’Rourke to run against Trump and for Tulsi Gabbard to come into her own.
McBride/Hightower: “Jeff — This is ridiculous and outrageous. You’re a working journalist and reviewer who covers the film industry diligently and should not be denied such access. Can your readers and fellow writers be of help in protesting? Please post names and email addresses of people to whom we should complain on your behalf. Also, those who are advising you about how to change your attitude or whatever to appease Sundance are offensive. That smacks of McCarthyism. Let’s all get behind supporting you in getting your pass to cover Sundance.”
Nolte: “I apologize for violating my ban. This is Wells’ site, and I have respected his decision by not commenting for a number of years now — and I will continue to respect his decision, but I wanted to chime in…
“I [visit] two or three times a day because Hollywood Elsewhere is the best film site online. Despite the frequent attacks on Trump and his supporters (i.e., me), I still read because Wells is INTERESTING, because he offers a unique point of view, because he is an open book (without being a narcissistic virtue signaler) and a solid wordsmith who brings a worldview (like it, agree with it, or not) and experience you cannot find anywhere else.
“Thanks to corporatization, thanks to the growing fear of de-platforming and social blacklisting, every other movie site I click on reads like every other movie site I click on — a tedious exercise in sterilized, homogenized, pro-social justice conformity. I’m not boycotting the sites I used to read. I don’t believe in boycotts. I just lost interest because…
“Everyone is either in a terrified defensive crouch as they energetically contribute to the Internet’s Woke Film Pravda, or worse, they are true believers in this shallow, censorious crap; or worse still, they contribute to the Internet’s Woke Film Pravda because they are simpering gerbils desperate to belong.
“Do you have any idea how dull it is to be a movie lover these days (thank GOD for DVD/Bluray)? Unless you are looking for ideological applause lines as opposed to insights and nuance and honesty, it is dry out there — and not just in film writing but in much of filmmaking (especially comedy).
“But it is not dry and sterile here, because Wells is what a writer is supposed to be — above all, he is honest about everything, and that makes him a raw nerve, and that means sometimes he’s going to piss you off, but it also means that you will sometimes discover a FIRST REFORMED you would not have otherwise. It also means you will never be bored. Given the choice between being offended or bored, is an easy choice.
“But Wells is not a cheap provocateur, either, which is just as tedious. He is simply honest about who he is and what he believes, and he expresses all of that in a compelling way. And that is everything you should want in a writer. What kind of mindless lummox — left or right — only wants their ideological sweet spot constantly soothed, to be constantly affirmed?
“Honestly, what the hell is going on in this country when we do not celebrate a writer like Wells, someone willing to risk not being liked. What the hell is going on when we do not celebrate a talented and insightful writer who refuses to conform?
“And what does it say about the ‘maverick’ spirit of Sundance when a legitimate non-conformist is blacklisted? And yes, of course — this is a blacklist. Like Sundance, the movie and television studios of the 1950s were non-government corporations free to do business with whoever they wanted — but they still blacklisted and so is Sundance.
“And, my God, what does it say about the film-writing world when this blacklisting is openly celebrated because a writer engages in WrongThink? Watching this self-righteous celebration on Twitter is literally nauseating.
“How did America, of all places, reach a point where honest and talented writing is blacklisted and condemned and ostracized as offensive, but calling for and celebrating the silencing of honest writing is not considered offensive?
“Let me close by saying to Sundance that if Wells doesn’t attend your festival, I won’t hear a thing about it or anything that plays there, because I won’t read about it anywhere else. You see, when it comes to the art form I love, I don’t care about ‘representation’ or ‘trangressiveness’ or ‘objectification’ or if there are enough gay sex scenes or how many POC were or weren’t cast or whatever the fuck everyone is writing about other than the only thing that matters in movies, and that is the human condition.
“The societal threat against independent thought, ideas that color outside of ‘acceptable’ lines, and individualism grows by the day.
“Those of us who understand how un-American that is have to start supporting one another, even if that means supporting those you disagree with 95% of the time, even it means supporting someone hostile to you. I am tired of people telling other people what they can and cannot say or think or express, and I am horrified by how effectively they use corporations like Twitter and Facebook and Sundance to enforce this fascism.
“Anyway, I just put my money where my mouth is and just signed up for a year of HE: Plus, and I encourage others to do the same.”