I just want to write. Ultimately, I just want my efforts to stand or fall on their own merits.
A recent story in The Hollywood Reporter entitled "TV executives admit in taped interviews that Hollywood pushes a liberal agenda," reminded me all over again how difficult it has been to meet that simple and fair standard.
I am in fact a former Republican who now labels myself an independent conservative. Beyond that, I've been a fairly successful author and novelist and have sold tens of thousands of books. I recently signed with a major New York publisher for my next novel as well as my memoir. A memoir because although I am a conservative, white male, I grew up homeless and on welfare, have continually argued in the defense of the poor and minorities in my columns, and eventually married a Hispanic-American woman.
And yet, with that background and commercial success attached to me, I've still had agents at major agencies in Hollywood say to me, "Gee, if only you weren't Republican," or "If only you were not a conservative. There is no sense in your submitting." My question to them then was, "What does that have to do with anything? Shouldn't my screenplays and treatments be judged solely on their quality and if they can make a studio money?"
I still have a number of friends in Hollywood, and I suggested to one of them, "What if we ensure they never know of my background and just submit my material?" His answer was as sobering as it was final. "Doesn't matter. The agent or, more likely, the agent's assistant will Google you, and when they do, you're toast. They won't even bother to read your screenplays."
After a few years of going through this. I gave up. I made peace with the fact that I was being marginalized because I happened to write for a couple of Republican presidents in the past or because some of my past columns offended some on the left.
Until that is, I made the mistake of reading The Hollywood Reporter story. Once I did, the scab was ripped off, and I felt the need to vent.
For incredibly valid reasons, Hollywood cringes at the word "blacklist." For many in that community, blacklisting only originates out of the dark recesses of the "disturbed" mind of a long-ago senator from Wisconsin. That's it. Except by it's very definition, isn't that what they have done and continue to do to conservatives?
What is one to think when one major producer-director is asked if conservatives are discriminated against in Hollywood, and he answers, "Well, I hope so." Or when another well-known producer, when asked what he thinks about the complaint from conservatives that everyone in Hollywood is liberal, says, "I think it's probably accurate, and I'm happy about it."
And yet another well-known producer, when asked if being a conservative is a barrier to entry in Hollywood, answers, "Absolutely."
If that's not the very definition of discrimination and blacklisting, then the Oxford and Webster's dictionaries have their own rewrites to worry about.
Those in Hollywood who seem to proudly discriminate against conservatives or use their powerful platforms to attack them should try to imagine what it would be like if the shoe was on the other foot. Imagine if Hollywood was 100 percent controlled by conservatives and only espoused conservative values.
Now that would be the ultimate horror movie by Hollywood standards. As it should be.
Discrimination by anyone against anyone is just plain wrong.