The list of celebrities who have endorsed Obama is long and impressive. Some of the greatest actors, directors, comedians and musicians of our time are publicly supporting the President. Ironically, they are supporting a president who is slowly, quietly, and methodically infringing on the very thing that allows them to do what they do for a living: the First Amendment. Before this assertion is written off as a conspiracy theory, consider the ever-increasing pressure that this Administration and his supporters have placed on the industry.
It started with a commercial. The Ford Motor Company created a spot which highlighted the fact that the company had not taken bailout money from the federal government. This is the advertisement they produced and broadcast in late 2011:
Shortly after it aired, according to The Blaze and other sources, Ford pulled the commercial due to pressure from the Obama Administration. Daniel Howes of the Detroit News explained:
[...] Ford pulled the ad after individuals inside the White House questioned whether the copy was publicly denigrating the controversial bailout policy CEO Alan Mulally repeatedly supported in the dark days of late 2008, in early ‘09 and again when the ad flap arose. And more.
With President Barack Obama tuning his re-election campaign amid dismal economic conditions and simmering antipathy toward his stimulus spending and associated bailouts, the Ford ad carried the makings of a political liability when Team Obama can least afford yet another one. Can’t have that.
The ad, pulled in response to White House questions (and, presumably, carping from rival GM), threatened to rekindle the negative (if accurate) association just when the president wants credit for their positive results (GM and Chrysler are moving forward, making money and selling vehicles) and to distance himself from any public downside of his decision.
The federal government successfully pressured a private company to censor its own speech. And yet, Hollywood remained incredibly silent when this happened. There was no rage. There was no protest. Obama was given a pass when it came to taking down a commercial that was critical of something he had done.
More recently of course, the Administration has now set its focus on a “film.” The violence in the Middle East that has resulted from Obama’s failed foreign policy is being blamed one of the most ridiculous videos ever to be posted on You Tube. Regardless of the timeline of events and statements issued before, during, and after the attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi, an American Embassy did in fact release the following statement:
“The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.”
While the Administration attempted distance itself from the statement, the White House again attempted the to expert its pressure by “asking” Google to review its policies in an attempt to have the video removed. Again, the American Government tried to strong-arm a private company into removing speech. And again, Hollywood remained incredibly silent. There was no rage. There was no protest. Obama was given another pass when it came to a video which offended a certain group of people.
Perhaps Hollywood should be reminded of the definition of “censorship”:
[The] act of changing or suppressing speech or writing that is considered subversive of the common good. In the past, most governments believed it their duty to regulate the morals of their people; only with the rise in the status of the individual and individual rights did censorship come to seem objectionable. Censorship may be preemptive (preventing the publication or broadcast of undesirable information) or punitive (punishing those who publish or broadcast offending material).
Insulting the religious beliefs of others is not an “abuse” of the right of free speech–it is an exercise of it. Again, the video that the State Department has focused so much attention on is junk. America does not “firmly reject” an exercise of free speech because it hurts feelings or is offensive to certain people. In fact, hurting feelings and offending people can be an effective way to encourage more debate–more speech. When Clark Gable uttered the immortal line, “Frankly Scarlett, I don’t give a damn,” at the end of Gone With the Wind, the expletive offended people. When Sidney Poitier showed up in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, it offended people. When Tom Hanks danced with Antonio Banderas in Philadelphia, it offended people. And these films also changed people. They started conversations and gave life to issues in such a way that no orator could ever accomplish.
Film and music are some of the last and most pure forms of debate we have in this country. This is a country where the same network that produces the ridiculous Real Sex series also produced Band of Brothers-one of the most important mini-series ever made–and introduced a new generation to The Tuskegee Airmen. This is a country where Christians can be skewered for their beliefs but a Christian church can make movies which compete with the mainstream market. Hollywood was created, exists and survives because of the First Amendment–not in spite of it.
Obama and his supporters are not stopping at censorship. Rather, they now have their sights on conscripting Hollywood for propaganda. A group in California has publicly stated its goal to use Hollywood in its effort to win over public support for the implementation of Obamacare.
According to the New York Times:
“And Hollywood, an industry whose major players have been supportive of President Obama and his agenda, will be tapped. Plans are being discussed to pitch a reality television show about “the trials and tribulations of families living without medical coverage,” according to the Ogilvy plan. The exchange will also seek to have prime-time television shows, like “Modern Family,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and Univision telenovelas, weave the health care law into their plots.”
This should have been seen as the ultimate insult to the writers of movies and television. This stated plan presumes that the creative minds that write some of Hollywood’s best words are for sale. It also presumes that these writers are so completely oblivious to the world they live in that ideas for plot lines must be pitched to them by special interests groups. And again, Hollywood remained incredibly silent. There was no rage. There was no protest.
Imagine a country where the entertainment industry no longer challenges censorship, but embraces it. Imagine a country where the music, art, and films no longer represent creative genius but rather government sponsored messages. Such a country is hard to imagine today. But unfortunately, it’s a country where a generation ago, it did not have to be imagined.
Martin Niemoller might have said it this way:
First they came for the commercials, and I did not speak out—
because I did not make commercials;
Then they came for the You Tube video, and I did not speak out—
because I did not make You Tube videos;
Then they came for the script writers, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a script writer;
Then they came for Hollywood—
and there was no one left to speak out for them.