So, I’m sitting in a meeting at a cable network. I have been hired to write a movie about a famous conservative radio talk show host. It’s a no-brainer for the network. They see huge ratings; they see tons of publicity. I’m a safe choice as a writer because I’ve won an Emmy Award, so they have official validation that I’m reasonably talented. I’m also that Hollywood rarity: a screenwriter who meets his deadlines. I have written a twelve page outline and now, before I write my first draft, the studio wants to make sure that I hit certain hot-point issues.

The problem with this project is that the radio talk show host I’m writing about is a conservative and everyone in the room is a liberal; more accurately, radical liberals.

Everyone but me.

But I have to keep that little fact a secret. Because if they knew that I am a Republican I would not work in Hollywood. I would not get hired for anything.

I know a writer who has a nasty heroin habit, but he works pretty regularly. I know another writer who is a cross dresser. He also works regularly. They are considered a) a victim, and b) courageous. I don’t know many Republicans who are out of the closet. There are a few, but most of us are quiet about our political beliefs. In my case, it’s even more complicated because I’m a religious Jew. And let me tell you, Hollywood hates religion. Unless it’s maybe Buddhism, something totally non-threatening and non violent a religion where men get to wear saffron robes. Hollywood people, for the most part, are Wahabi secularists. If people found out that I am a Republican and Shomer Shabbos Jew, well I don’t even want to consider the consequences. Blacklisted? It’s not out of the realm.

Hollywood people like to feel that they are compassionate. But their compassion is usually only reserved for leftists, or totally self-destructive losers. When my son Ariel died, only two Hollywood people came to the shiva house: my agent, a wonderful woman who is like my big sister, and a young director who I helped get his start in the business. Someone once said to me, “You have to understand, Robert, Ariel died from cancer. It was not a fashionable death like AIDS.” You see, Ariel’s death just made my Hollywood acquaintances uncomfortable. And so, they disappeared. If Ariel had died, God forbid, from a drug overdose or from some sexually transmitted disease, well, the shiva house would have been a total Hollywood party. This is not an exaggeration.

We Republicans are considered The Other. It’s not unusual to sit in a Hollywood meeting where the first ten minutes are taken up with amazingly sophisticated chit-chat on the current world scene. The dialogue goes something like this:

“Bush is a Nazi.”
“Bush is a moron.”
“Bush is ruining our relations with France.”
“The election was stolen.”
“What about the Peace Process?”
“I can understand suicide bombers in Israel–what choice do they have?”
That my ears have not spouted blood is something of a miracle.

Consider that all these executives are graduates of Ivy League colleges. Really, I have to wonder, what did they pick up in Yale, Columbia and Princeton? Their parents paid several hundred thousand dollars in tuition fees so that their little darlings could learn to hate this country, to despise the spread of democracy and freedom, and to have contempt for hard working people who have religious faith.

Hollywood liberals claim multi-culturalism as an absolute value–but their multiculturalism only applies to color. I recently sat in a meeting with a group of executives: men and women, white, Asian, black, homosexual and lesbian; they congratulated themselves on their diversity. But there was nothing diverse about that group at all. They were carbon copies of one another: all radical liberals, all with the same political and social beliefs, all in favor of higher taxes, all in favor of big government, all in favor of a foreign policy of isolation, all in favor of banning private gun ownership, all militantly in favor of homosexual marriage. All of them express contempt for “family values.” I made the mistake of asking if there were any Republicans in the room–in the name of diversity. I mean, if you claim to be diverse, shouldn’t that extend to something as elemental as political beliefs. They looked at me blankly. “No, no republicans. We are all nice people here,” said one of the well groomed execs.”

And so there it is, the ultimate expression of liberal thought: Republicans are not nice. Talk about a Manichean view of the world.

I did not bother pointing out that their claim of diversity only extended to skin color. I did not point out that their claim of diversity was, in fact, much closer to Nazi ideology for it was based solely upon blood. It was a room filled with people steeped in a Marxist, Materialist belief in the cycles of history. The transcendent is dismissed out of hand.

I said nothing because I need to keep working. I said nothing because they would not understand what I was saying anyway. These people live in such a rarefied atmosphere that you will find more open discussion in a black hat Beis Midrash than in the average Hollywood executive suite.

It’s an odd existence. I am surrounded by some of the most intolerant, close-minded people a democracy has ever spawned. It is no wonder that most Hollywood films do not connect with the mass audience. For in truth, the people who run Hollywood have contempt for most of America. If you live in an air conditioned world, well you make air conditioned movies.

The meeting is over. One of the executives, an extremely beautiful woman, asks me if I’d like to go out for a drink. I tell her that I have to get home, that my wife is waiting for me. “Your wife, oh, do you have children?
“Yes, three, but our son died.”
The beautiful executive literally steps backwards. It’s as if she’s afraid of being contaminated.
“I’m so sorry,” she says as she adjusts to this unexpected turn of conversation.
I should have kept my mouth shut.
“I’m so sorry, really,” she says again.
I shrug. What can I say?
“Well, maybe we’ll have lunch sometime. I’ll have my secretary call.”
She forces a smile to her face. Mumbles something about time healing all wounds.
I drive home and I practically fall into Karen’s arms.

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  1. Earl Hartman
    Posted February 8, 2005 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    Mr. Avrech:
    Reading your blog in general, and your comments about the meeting with the Hollywood types in particular, I couldn't help but wonder: how do you manage to keep your views a secret? Since you are obviously shomer mitzvot, I am sure that your kippah, your tzitzit, your dietary habits and your need to observe the Shabbat and Chaggim must have elicited comment at some point. While it should be fairly easy to keep your political views to yourself, I do not see how the fact that you are religious and, therefore, practically by definition, a holder of "traditional" views, could not be noticed. I wear my kippah to work, and people are asking me questions all the time. Of course, I guess that you could simply be non-committal if you wanted. But with all of the emphasis on the "right-wing ultra-Orthodox" in the media, it seems to me that the people with whom you work in Hollywood could make the usual assumptions.
    Also, I assume that you use your real name in your blog. What if the people with whom you met in Hollywood stumbled upon it and found out who you really are?

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  2. Posted February 7, 2005 at 5:27 am | Permalink

    Excellent post. I appreciate your "inside" insight.

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  3. Rachel
    Posted February 5, 2005 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

    I want to comment on what Aaron wrote. Since you did not read his book (which I did, and it's most excellent), you really do not have a right to judge about its content. Where is the controversy? To say that this frum book cannot have any subject matter having to do with an apache maiden is quite narrow minded. I can tell you that this book not only is quite entertaining, it also is within the boundaries of Torah values (imagine that). Robert shows that Jews are the light to the nations, why not use Native American characters?
    Secondly, your criticism of Robert's screenplay A Stranger Among Us is way out of line. Since when are writers in control of the production of movies? There may have been some scenes that were not within his control. Either way, it is an excellent movie, and I am proud that it portrays Orthodox Jews in a good light. To make a blanket statement that Robert sends the wrong message because of one scene is wrong.

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  4. Posted February 4, 2005 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

    "I'm an old school, classic liberal with a strong libertarian streak. I voted for Bush in the most recent election, the first time in my life I have ever voted for a Republican."
    Me too. There are many many many of us. I think we were the "swing voters." But now that we are voting for Republicans we are going to create a big bulge on the liberal end of the Republican Party, which will make things interesting.
    Robert, I sense that you really want to come out of the closet or you wouldn't have written this. You are subconsciously leaving a trail for them to find you, and then you won't have to mkae a decision to do it consciously. OTOH, probably most of them don't read blogs, or at least any blog that would link to you. But you must be at peace with them finding you, or you wouldn't be using your real name and saying what you think.
    I bet there are alternative roads in Hollywood; as was said, Ron Silver works. Mel Gibson works. I bet you will also continue to work.

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  5. Aaron
    Posted February 4, 2005 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    I have not read the book, but just from reading the story on your site I find it UN-tasteful. I believe it sends the wrong message, a frum or orthodox kid would have nothing to do with an apache maiden or any other maiden for that matter.
    This "Hollywood screenwriter" already showed us he sends the wrong message in his story called "A Stranger Among Us." In the last 8 min. of the movie were the so called Jewish, frum, orthodox student goes to visit the female non Jewish cop at her house alone. Were we see clothes coming off. I ask you is this the "right" message we need or want???

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  6. Posted February 4, 2005 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    I'm an old school, classic liberal with a strong libertarian streak. I voted for Bush in the most recent election, the first time in my life I have ever voted for a Republican. I got no end of grief from friends and family. You would have thought I had voted for Satan.
    The Left's refusal/inability to unequivocally condemn Islamist Fascism and terrorism makes it spiritually and morally bankrupt, as well as irrelevant. The intolerance shown by folks such as the ones you described in your meeting makes a mockery of liberal ideals.

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  7. Mister Median
    Posted February 4, 2005 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    What this country needs is an honest left, unformed either by Hollywood or Marx, to serve as counterpoint to the orthodoxies of the right. There used to be the germ of such a left (read "The Iron Heel" and "Looking Backwards" to see how far back it went), but like so much else, it was killed off as a consequence of WW I.
    Rather than try to hide in plain view of them, I think the better course of action would be for you to come out of the closet and get really political. You wouldn't be alone – Ron Silver is out there, and he works. Besides, this blog won't escape their notice forever, so you may as well make the first move on your own terms.

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  8. Posted February 4, 2005 at 5:48 am | Permalink

    I'm sure I agree with you about Hollywood. I don't know these people personally, of course. Judging from the level of most of what Hollywood produces, though, it doesn't surpise me in the least to learn that the movers and shakers there hold an extremely simplistic world-view. I really empathize with what it must be like for a thinking person like you to have to sit and listen to unreasoned, empty slogans, especially when you believe otherwise and are constrained from expressing your own point of view.
    That said, however, I suspect that most of the qualities you described as belonging to "Hollywood liberals" is attributable more to their Hollywood-ness than to their liberal-ness. Simplistic opinions and closed-mindedness do not characterise only one side of the liberal-conservative divide; both philosophies have their intolerant radical fringes, as both have their thoughtful adherents who are willing to hear what those who disagree with them have to say.
    If most of your readers were to hear my own views on most political and social issues, I suspect they would categorize me as a secular, "self-hating" Jew. But wonder of wonders, this proud liberal observes an Orthodox lifestyle – I even cover my hair! – and deeply love love my faith and tradition. Unfortunately, people like me have, for decades, been made to feel unwelcome in most Orthodox circles, at least here in Israel. If we demonstrate for a negotiated rather than a military solution to our conflict with the Palestinians, relgious passers-by shout and curse at us, and tell the men among us to "take off your kippa" (a friend once had his kippa physically snatched from his head). I even personally know one man, a former Chief Rabbi in Alsace, who had to leave the shul he belonged to here in Jerusalem when the other members put him in "Herem" (a blacklist, really) because of his stand on the Israeli-Palestinan conflict.
    There are many other liberals like me, who are proud Jews but empathize with the Palestinians for the mere fact that they, too, were created in G-d's image, who believe passionately in – and live – family values but can understand the difficulties faced by people who fall in love with others of the same sex, and who also understand the conservative point of view on these issues. And I know that there are many conservatives like you who listen respectfully to other people's opinions, and would not blacklist another person for his or her philosophy of life.
    I strongly believe that the world needs both liberals and conservatives – liberals to introduce new ways of thinking in keeping with a dynamic world, and conservatives to remind us all of the importance of tradition and continuity – and to keep us liberals from throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
    May G-d grant all of us the humility to listen and learn from to one another, even when we believe passionately that our own position is the correct one.

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  9. Felix
    Posted February 3, 2005 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

    Just stumbled onto your blog. Was reading something Mac related on the web and I got here somehow. I've only read this entry so far. I have a feeling I'll be reading much more.
    -Felix (a Christian)

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  10. Posted February 3, 2005 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    Robert, why did you change your original ending that said something like "How much longer can I do 'this'?" That had such impact, gave us such insight, adding perspective about you versus "them."

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  11. Posted February 3, 2005 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    been reading you for a bit now; often find it hard to connect to your world though quite connected with your family. but this connected grand slam style. my favorite t-shirt slogan: all you nonconformists are alike. chazak v'ematz.

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  12. Posted February 3, 2005 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    I really enjoyed this piece but I do wonder, aren't you concerned that the network liberals might dig up your blog?

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  13. Posted February 3, 2005 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    The truth is that we, as outsiders, do think that life is always greener on the other side of the fence, that there's glitter and sparkle below that infamous HOLLYWOOD sign. We chew and apparently digest what the media serves us.
    But it's clear that you never chose to wear those designer rose-tinted glasses that so many of your fellow Hollywoodniks don.
    And I think we can all be thankful for that!

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