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Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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'Tea party' troubadour says: 'In Hollywood, being a conservative is the kiss of death'

Sarah_palin For years and years, conservatives have been stoutly defending the 1950s Red Scare-era practice of ex-Communists naming the names of their fellow travelers when they were hauled before congressional committees on a hunt for alleged Communist influence in Hollywood. It was a noble, patriotic thing to do, conservatives contend, because the only way to root out left-wingers and Marxists in Hollywood was to publicly inform on all your old friends and business associates so they would have to step out into the light, where their perfidy could be witnessed by all. 

Today's conservatives are still complaining about they say is Hollywood's rigid ideological slant, but they apparently aren't brave enough to actually name any names. That's my take-away from this intriguing front-page Wall Street Journal story about Jonathan Kahn, a former Hollywood writer-director who's become a star in conservative circles using the stage name of Jon David and belting out patriotic anthems such as "American Heart" ("I got American parts, got American faith, in America's heart") at "tea party" rallies.

Using his pseudonym, Kahn has been regaling the true believers with his songs everywhere, opening for Sarah Palin at the tea party convention in Nashville last February and crooning "American Heart" two weeks later at the $275-a-seat "presidential banquet" at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington. But until now, Kahn has been working incognito, saying: "It's for protective reasons. In Hollywood, being a conservative is the kiss of death."

For years, Hollywood Jews did Anglicize their names, as Kahn has, because they were able to prove with chapter and verse that being publicly Jewish was a career hindrance. However, like so many other conservatives who have made "kiss of death" claims, Kahn can't back it up. In the entire Journal story, he didn't come up with even one tiny specific example of liberal bias against his work. Born into a wealthy Pacific Palisades family, the 42-year-old writer earned good reviews for an early 30-minute short, 1993's "Chili Con Carne," but in the ensuing years, according to IMDB, he's only managed to direct one film, the 1998 teen drama, "Girl," about groupies and rock stars in the Seattle music scene, which earned lukewarm reviews and barely got a release. 

Based on that very limited output, it's seems like quite a stretch to say that Kahn's politics have held him back. But that's what all too many conservatives do. They put the blame for their stalled careers on liberal Hollywood, when lack of marketable talent might be a far more likely source for the problem.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that Hollywood isn't lousy with liberals. It is indeed an overwhelmingly liberal community. But it is also very much a free-market community where the best ideas, scripts and talent ultimately rise to the top. I have been around all sorts of all-star liberals who practice the squishiest of politics in their personal lives, but when it comes time to make a deal or get their film greenlighted, business comes first every time. If a political conservative (in or out of the closet) wrote a hot action script that looked like a global tent-pole hit, all those squishy liberals would be pushing their best friends down elevator shafts left and right trying to get the rights to it.

I don't disagree with Kahn when he says that Hollywood practices a core hypocrisy in "how it benefits so much from capitalism and bashes it at the same time." But hypocrisy is everywhere. On Wall Street, it works in reverse, where the biggest investment firms make billions of dollars from the free market, but then depend on socialism -- i.e., government bailouts -- to reimburse them when things go wrong. But in the workplace, Hollywood is capitalism in its purest form.

If you can create entertainment that attracts the biggest possible audience, you will be rewarded beyond your wildest dreams, whether you're liberal or conservative, straight or gay, black or white. And if Kahn really thinks otherwise, he'd better start naming names, because this story line of shadowy Hollywood liberals squashing the careers of righteous conservatives is getting pretty old indeed.

Watch "American Heart" for yourself and see what you think:

Photo: Sarah Palin addressing the tea party convention in Nashville last February. Credit: Ed Reinke / Associated Press

 
Comments () | Archives (24)

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Anybody who openly supports Sarah Palin is either intensely stupid or they're joking. Palin was the most inadequate candidate in the history of our presidential elections. Even Vice President Andrew Johnson was better prepared, and he had no formal education at all. This woman doesn't know what a conservative is, other than the fact that it is not liberal. She claims to be a devoted Christian, but can't name her favorite book of the Bible. She thinks George Washington was one of the Founding Fathers. She once referred to the African continent as a "country". She has no idea why there are two Koreas. And she made millions off a book which she did not write. If she's a conservative, she has no idea why.

Never mind the political aspect, it's an awful song and the guy can't sing.

Perhaps the Tea Party affiliation is misleading...instead of a rousing patriatic label, it instills fear and insulting hypocrasy because after all, where were you during the Bush/Cheney years? Or is it only because Obama became president that your conservative views became so radical? Or is it simply because no one really believes all the hype that Sarah Palin is the one...she's not a dream but a nightmare!

being a total moron is the "kiss of death"

Sorry, only made it 50 seconds into the video. He cannot sing. So tell me "Jon," how has this "kiss of death" worked for entertainment industry folks like Jon Voight, Joel Surnow, Tony Scott, Michael Savage, and Glenn Beck? Heck, even Stephen Colbert has made a good living pretending to be a conservative - and has actually fooled a number of real conservatives. Believe it or not, Hollywood does not belong to a red state or a blue state - it is all, as Goldstein points out, green.

First of all, how can he say being a conservative is holding him back when nobody's ever heard of him? He might as well argue that being right-handed is what's holding him back. Or having a left eye. Who cares about his politics? The movie industry has always been about the money, honey. Make movie that makes some and Hollywood will beat a wide path to your door.

Entertainers such as Jon David could do themselves a favor if they would look at the quality of their work as the reason they struggle, rather than some sort of liberal bias. The song, (and video), posted here is just pretty dull. Some songwriters can write songs which express their beliefs and they just work. This work just tries too hard to express an agenda, and frankly doesn't work as a song, or a video. The love of country is something one just feels. To share it shouldn't require hitting the listener, ( or viewer ), over the head with words and images.

Oh, those mean, mean liberals! They're snide and snippy and disrespectful to their betters.

Of course, I have yet to hear of those viscious liberals teaching geometry, as in the case of a teacher in an Alabama high school, using a scenario of presidential assasination to explain angles and parallel lines (http://blog.al.com/spotnews/2010/05/jefferson_county_geometry_teac.html).

"But it is also very much a free-market community where the best ideas, scripts and talent ultimately rise to the top." Apparently you haven't been paying attention to the unimaginative drivel hollywood's been pumping out recently. Re-hashes and re-makes.

Does believe in handouts? Good for him. I hope he explains that concept to his kid when turning down any federal student loan. (Of course, the tune will change, so to speak, because the dissembling will include the line, "It's my taxpayer money.....")

Live by your convictions; don't bore anyone thumping your chest about it.

 
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