GORDON: Can Hollywood Survive Its Stars?

(Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)

J. D. Gordon Former Pentagon Spokesman, George W. Bush Administration
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Alec Baldwin’s deadly shooting on the set of “Rust, which killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounded director Joel Souza, brings an important question to the fore: Can Hollywood survive its stars?

They constantly lecture us from their ivory towers on things they know little to nothing about. Yet their collective judgment is often shown to be among the worst of any group of people.

While Americans can understand and forgive accidents, “Rust horror stories emerging through law enforcement documents and film crew complaints show the reality was far worse than just a simple mishap. Multiple indictments for manslaughter are likely.

Beyond this current tragedy, Baldwin’s hypocrisy is stunning. He’s been a fervent gun control advocate, yet has now killed someone with a gun in a movie in which he stars and is the executive producer. He once mocked former Vice President Cheney for accidentally shooting and injuring a hunting partner, calling him a “terrorist.” In 2017, he tweeted about a Huntington Beach police officer, musing “I wonder how it must feel to wrongfully kill someone.”

And who could forget Baldwin’s years of incendiary and dishonest portrayals of President Trump on Saturday Night Live — depicting him and associates as openly undermining American democracy? Ironically, it was Baldwin and his associates doing that. The good natured ribbing of past presidents on SNL from the likes of Chevy Chase, Dana Carvey and Will Ferrell took a vicious and sinister turn under Baldwin. No wonder why SNL ratings have plunged by 35%.

Baldwin is far from alone. In recent times, Hollywood continually embarrasses itself and our country with scandal after scandal.

Academy Award winner Harvey Weinstein was one of the most acclaimed producers of our time as co-founder of Miramax. Yet the #MeToo movement also exposed him as one of the most prolific sexual predators of our time.

Varsity Blues, a.k.a. the pay to play scheme for Hollywood parents to cheat their children’s way into prestigious universities by faking athletic credentials, falsifying test scores, etc. showed numerous recognizable faces caught red-handed. The Daily Caller has kept a running log.

Beyond outright criminal behavior, anti-American and pro-Chinese sentiment coming out of Tinsel Town is now normal. Bowing down before the Chinese Communist Party and access to its 1.4 billion-person market appears to outweigh alienating half of America’s 330 million.

Actor and wrestler John Cena probably takes the cake with his groveling one-minute apology spoken in Mandarin because he inadvertently referred to Taiwan as a “country” while promoting the premier of “Fast & Furious 9.”

The producers of the new “Top Gun removed the flags of Japan and the Republic of China, a.k.a. Taiwan, from Tom Cruise’s iconic jacket in the 1986 film to avoid offending Beijing’s censors.

DC Comics just changed Superman’s slogan from “Truth, Justice and the American Way” to “Truth, Justice and a Better Tomorrow.” Global audiences must like it better.

But jabs at America’s expense aren’t just limited to slogans. Over half of the past 10 Academy Awards for Best Picture went to films depicting our country as hopelessly racist, homophobic and/or corrupt. Two foreign films, one French and one Korean, which avoided such tropes were refreshingly and somewhat miraculously among the 10 winners.

Speaking of foreign films, in an era of increasing cinematographic parity overseas, it’s easy to imagine entertainment hubs in Europe and Asia overtaking Hollywood.

Despite the big budget of the latest James Bond film, “No Time to Die,” it was beaten at the global box office by a Chinese propaganda film called the “Battle at Lake Changjin,” which celebrated fighting Americans during the Korean War.  Geez, after the 27th installment of 007, who saw that coming?

So who needs Hollywood these days when we can apparently get better, cheaper and more original content directly from China?

Or South Korea. Its sci-fi thriller “Squid Game just became the most popular Netflix series ever with reportedly 111 million “fans” in just 28 days. Or Britain and its “Harry Potter franchise, which represents the third-highest grossing film series ever.

Though it edges out “Harry Potter” in second place, do we really need more than 12 movies from Star Wars?  Despite all the virtue signaling from Disney, which owns the rights, most Americans still probably don’t know the Chinese version of their posters cut or shrunk black characters like Finn. Despicable.

Alec Baldwin reminds us that Hollywood’s business model these days is pathetic and might not survive its stars.

J.D. Gordon is a former National Security & Foreign Policy Advisor to Republican leaders Donald Trump, Mike Huckabee and Herman Cain.  Previously, he served as a Pentagon spokesman during the George W. Bush Administration and is a retired Navy Commander.