“In 2002, Stephen Baldwin had an experience that changed his life forever,” the narrator reads. “He became a born-again Christian, giving his life to Jesus Christ. Over the next few years he became very vocal about his faith, using his spotlight to boldly preach the gospel to millions of people. However, because of his convictions [which] began to cause him the loss of several jobs and a highly publicized bankruptcy, he has been publicly ridiculed and insulted…”
This video and the website from which it came — RestoreStephenBaldwin.org — are completely on the level, or so it would seem. Baldwin needs work and financial help, and is reaching out to people of his flock.
I don’t want to see anyone suffer economically, but let’s cut to the chase: Baldwin’s troubles have apparently resulted not from his becoming a born-again Christian or preaching the Good News, but from his becoming an arch-conservative and being known, fairly or unfairly, as one of the more visible right-wing uglies on the Hollywood political landscape. Why doesn’t the video admit that Baldwin’s troubles are as much political as religious, if not more so?
Christianity, of course, goes hand in hand with right-wing views. If you believe in Jesus, you believe in Teabagging, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, etc. I’m only half-kidding. There are left-wing humanist Christians out there, I’m certain — Jimmy Carter, for example — but probably not all that many. There is apparently something about accepting Christ into your heart that makes you vaguely racist and prompts opposition to Barack Obama and liberalism and health care and restraining Wall Street bankers.
I don’t know for a fact that Hollywood producers and studio chiefs have white-listed Baldwin because he’s a rightie, but the Baldwin video was clearly made with Baldwin’s approval so obviously he feels that way. If he’s correct, it would appear that some in the entertainment industry don’t like to hire righties if they can help it. This is not a myth. Some people in Hollywood do hold this prejudice. I wrote an article about this in 1994 for Los Angeles magazine.
Although I don’t share this prejudice in terms of actions and practices, I wrote in the summer of ’08 that if I was a producer I might tell Jon Voight to “eat cake” if he was looking for a role on my film or TV show. I might do that, I said, as a way of making him suffer for his ugly views about Barack Obama, and because it feels emotionally satisfying to someone like myself to bring a little pain and political persecution into the life of a rightie. As a notion, at least. Which is to say not actually.
“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,” I said. “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.
“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.
“And good for Cecil B. DeMille, that awful, sanctimonious, two-faced Bible-thumping vulgarian, for giving the liberal-minded Edward G. Robinson a job on The Ten Commandments. That was a good and compassionate thing DeMille 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.”