Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Deep State's War on American Culture

I ran across something by Steve Sailor in passing that got me noodling. 

It’s difficult to get across to young people today just how committed Hollywood was in the mid–20th century to propagandizing that America was less a nation of immigrants, as today’s cliché holds, than a nation of settlers. (Heck, in the 1960s the Italian film industry churned out Westerns.) For example, in Walt Disney’s speech opening Disneyland in 1955, he orated:

"Frontierland. It is here that we experience the story of our country’s past. The color, romance, and drama of frontier America as it developed from wilderness trails to roads, riverboats, railroads, and civilization. A tribute to the faith, courage, and ingenuity of our hearty pioneers who blazed the trails and made this progress possible."

At some point between 1969’s Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and 1972’s The Godfather, however, the American entertainment industry permanently lost interest in cowboys and Indians.

Interesting. And completely true.  

When I was a little kid ...a very little could find rural themed shows everywhere on network television. Green Acres, Mayberry RFD, Petticoat Junction, The Beverly Hillbillies and plenty of others.  Their popularity was an understandable nostalgia.  A revolution in farming technology in the early 20th century meant that the large families that were once needed to keep farms running were suddenly redundant useless mouths to feed so they moved to cities and quickly learned to hate the rat race.  Naturally they dreamed about the life of being a boy in country, climbing oak trees, fishing in streams, meeting a pretty girl with a good heart at a box-social.  Their tastes in entertainment reflected these things.

And overnight those shows were suddenly relegated to to the afternoon rerun market.  Everything with a tree in it got cancelled and their place were All in the Family, Mash and The Mary Tyler Moore Show.  Rural shows that understood and embraced American values were replaced by shows that at their core rejected them.  

What happened?  There was a confluence of several factors. 

Officially the story is that Baby Boomers were the new market that had to be embraced but I recall no such efforts to coddle Generation X when we turned eighteen.  Everything in the 1980s were still urban shows by, for and about Boomers.  The closest anything came to touching our values were Family Ties and that was only because of Alex P. Keaton but really that show was supposed to be about his hippy parents.  

So clearly corralling the Boomer market wasn't the real story just the official reason.  

“Politics runs downhill from culture”  -- Andrew Brietbart.  The members of the proto-Deep State class knew that one instinctively.  And they had a major cultural problem to overcome.  Like the Greeks and Romans before them Americans felt that there were inherent virtues to be found in rural life.  That there was an intrinsic nobility to be found in the rustic but honest Jed Clampett.

Clearly they felt a deep and urgent need to change that perception.  The first thing they had to do was cultivate an audience for it.  And there was one that was almost ready.

 The grandchildren of immigrants from the turn of the century drastically preferred the idea of America being a Nation of Immigrants rather than a Nation of Pioneers because their families had no connection with that identity.  

Around 1970 is when you first started hearing the term Italian-American.  Let me tell you they were pretty fucking whiny about it at the time. They held lots of rallies, got people elected to office and acted like they were still a persecuted minority, rather than the guys whose food you loved.  They were quite insulted by the stereotype that Italians had anything to do with organized crime and publicly claimed that the Mafia was defunct. The Italian American movement  was of course started by the Mafia to try and get everyone to be believe the Mafia didn't exist anymore or if you happened to know (like everyone else) that it still existed, you at least didn't mention it in polite society.  They were so successful in this endeavor that in Godfather and Godfather II you never heard the word, Mafia, once.  The proto-Deep State class signed up for this on big time.  They got America to repeat a lie that America knew to be a lie.

It was after that that everyone bellied up to the whining bar for a serving of special virtues for having been a persecuted minority.  The Irish became Irish-Americans, Blacks became African-Americans, Chinese-Americans, Polish Americans, Croatian-Americans and so on.  There was one massive exception to this.  There was no such thing as an English-American. 

And Almost all of these people doing this bitching had ancestors that were separated from Pioneer Identity.  

The Nations of Pioneers identity was something that had to be dragged through the mud.

In colleges historical revisionism was suddenly the flavor of the day.  The Pioneers were suddenly far from the image of hearty and independent men who brought, "The color, romance, and drama of frontier America as it developed from wilderness trails to roads, riverboats, railroads, and civilization. A tribute to the faith, courage, and ingenuity of our hearty pioneers who blazed the trails and made this progress possible."  In the Deep State incubation chamber that was the American university system in the 1970s, the Pioneers became ravagers of the land.  They were thieves, murders and whenever possible rapists of Indians Native-Americans. 

The only new western tv show from the 1970s that I can remember featured a half-Chinese man who famously didn't need a gun, in an American West where everyone he ran into was a screaming racist (sole exceptions there being Blacks, Indians or anybody with a funny last name).

Roots which was based on a book that was written by a hustler, conman and plagiarist named Alex Haley created vast new stereotypes of the Dirty South.  Apparently the entire Antebellum South was a brutal heaving brothel of rape.  Although, ray of sunshine there it was only slave girls that were raped, the honor of  slave boys was apparently sacrosanct.  I guess that's something.

Different story if you are fat white northerner i'm afraid 

Little Bigman was nothing short of anti-white propaganda so blatant it's honestly up there with the Jud Süß.  

Easily the most impressive of these efforts was Heaven's Gate by Michael Cimino. This was interestingly about noble and virtuous pioneers...who were immigrants.  The immigrant identity clearly and obviously held pride of place.  Why?  Because they were being victimized by rich white men.

And it was in this movie that the self destructive nature of Deep State SJW convergence displayed itself in all of it's magnificent glory.   Cataline will now quote Cataline.

"Michael Cimino just died at the age 77. He was the director of the notorious bomb of Nagasaki like proportions; Heaven's Gate. This was the film that famously broke United Artist's studios.

There were three factors at play that time. First a very young and ambitious artist, who had a vision for a film that was at best, questionable in terms of boxoffice appeal.   That in itself was nothing to worry about, everyone in Hollywood has one of those.

But very few of them get the Green light because it's the studio's executives' job to make sure they don't.

Heaven's Gate was a passion project for Cimino.  He had been shopping the script around Hollywood for years.  There were no takers on the grounds that no one thought that a Marxist flick about the evils of capitalism in the Old West would move tickets.  These wiser-heads were completely right of course.

Which brings us neatly to the next factor of; inexperienced executives. There had been major walk out by the senior executives at UA. They had to be replaced of course and it was a bunch of younger guys who were way down on the corporate totem pole who were bumped up. These guys were in over their heads and now needed to prove themselves, it was the age of Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg (back when none of them sucked).  "Anybody with a beard and a script got the Green Light back then."

Ciminio didn't have a beard but he did have a script and an Oscar for best picture (The Deer Hunter). This script was right out of 1969 and it was the dawn of Reagan's America.  But they kicked open the vault door to a project that had zero box office appeal.  Welcome to Hollywood kid.

And last was the most destructive addition of all.  The Line Producer.  The person who is supposed to rein in the excesses of the artist.

In fit of abject stupidity the studio agreed to Michael Cimino's choice of Joann Carelli.  A woman whose primary job qualification was that she was fucking Michael Cimino.

At every turn where a line producer was needed to say, "no, Michael we can't do that."  She invariably said, "yes."  Shoot for a week in Yale because I've suddenly decided the film needs a bookend? "Yes, Michael no problem!"  Tear down one entire side of the set and move it few feet back?  "Absolutely, Michael this is your vision!"  Have an authentic and period correct 1880s roller disco scene? "OF COURSE! Michael, you're a genius!"

Whenever she should have said, no.  She said, yes and actively encouraged him.

What followed after that would make a pretty good movie in and of itself.  Certainly it would be more entertaining than watching Heaven's Gate. 

Before a frame of film was shot, Heaven's Gate's cast (which included Kris Kristofferson, Jeff Bridges, Christopher Walken and Isabelle Huppert) had to go on some extensive training courses, what Jeff Bridges later called "Camp Cimino". Lessons ranged from shooting to horse riding to cock fighting lessons to Yugoslavian dialect coaching. One early scene would see several prominent members of the cast dancing on skates, which required actors Kris Kristofferson, Jeff Bridges and Brad Douriff to spend hour after hour in training.

"They had to skate for a couple of hours a day, prop master Robert Visciglia said told the makers of the Final Cut documentary, "for maybe a week or two weeks."

Brad Douriff puts the length of time spent training at a much longer six weeks - enough time for the cast to become adept at waltzing around on skates for Cimino's lengthy scenes.

Deflatingly, for the actors involved, the roller skate waltzing scene was one of many, many sequences that ended up on the cutting room floor in the 149 minute 'directors' cut' of Heaven's Gate released in 1981.
Although films told on an epic scale are by no means unusual in Hollywood history, Cimino's obsessive attention to detail certainly was. Cimino spent huge amounts of time planning and creating every single shot, as he chose each individual extra - from a line-up of dozens - and arranged them around the set depending on their look and height.

"He would actually paint by selecting extras and putting them in the right place," recalls Vilmos Zsigmond, Cimino's cinematographer. "Pretty much like a painter would paint. He'd paint by picking people up and dropping them into place."

This process was made more laborious because of the sheer scale of the film - some scenes required 50 or more extras, all personally selected by Cimino. "It took time," Visciglia remembers. "Maybe a couple of hours to pick 50 people."

The end results are undeniably beautiful, with individual shots composed like Renaissance oil paintings. But the cost to United Artists, as Cimino single-mindedly pursued perfection, would soon add up to terrifying sums - it's estimated that, in the first week of shooting, just one and a half minutes of film had been racked up. The cost? An estimated $900,000.

Certain directors are famous (or infamous) for asking for multiple takes - Stanley Kubrick was but one such exacting filmmaker. But Cimino was unusual even by the standards of someone like Kubrick, as he not only demanded multiple takes for certain scenes, but also takes of the same few lines of dialogue delivered in multiple ways.

"I'm not used to doing 57 takes, I'm really not," Brad Douriff says. "I'm not used to doing a minimum of 32 takes. It was like workshopping on film - we did the happy version, we did the crying version, we did the furious version."

An entire day was spent shooting more than 50 takes of Kris Kristofferson drunkenly cracking a whip in a hotel room. The shot in the finished film is over in a matter of seconds. With Cimino demanding absolute creative freedom to make Heaven's Gate, the production quickly went behind schedule; within the first five days of filming, the film was already five days behind its target.

Heaven's Gate's grandest set piece was - and is - its battle sequence between settlers and mercenaries. Requiring dozens of horses, extras, wooden wagons and explosions, it took weeks of planning and around a month of arduous filming. Just to make things even more difficult, Cimino had chosen for his battle location a field located some three hours' drive from his base of production in Kalispell, Montana.

Cast and crew were bundled into vans at 3:30 each the morning, still clutching their pillows so they could catch a bit more sleep as they were ferried to the location. When they finally got there, the day's filming was long and potentially even dangerous, as Cimino whipped up a dervish of dust, wagons and gunfire.

"I don't know how long we shot those battle scenes," Bridges remembers, "But it was frightening, some of it. Each time I'd pray to God that none of us got hurt. We'd just keep doing it over and over."

"We would ride around in a circle for three or four minutes at a gallop", recalled extra Eric Wood. "You've got wagons in the mix. Dust so you can hardly see."

Still, if the actors and extras were getting tired and frustrated, some of the crewmembers didn't seem to mind. "Hell, this picture can go on forever as much as I care," horse wrangler told Steve Bach. "My boys and I have never been paid like this. I looooove Montana!" (*True enough they were routinely getting time and half and even triple time.*)

When it came to Cimino's exacting methods - and his lack of interest when it came to lunch breaks - assistant editor Penelope Shaw summed it up best. "He thinks, there's that beautiful cloud. That'll be there for an eternity if I get it on film. Nobody will care about lunch 20 years from now, but they'll be able to see that visual I've created forever."

The problem was, Cimino's determination to craft the great American movie was resulting in some quite bizarre directorial choices. Legend has it that a tree was chopped down and relocated to improve the composition of a solitary shot. A gigantic set - of a Wyoming street circa 1892 - was built, torn down and completely rebuilt again because the director wanted the gap between the houses to be six feet wider.

Actor John Hurt spent so long waiting around on the production for something to do, he went off and made The Elephant Man for David Lynch in the interim, and then came back to shoot more scenes on Heaven's Gate.

Then there was the vintage locomotive Cimino wanted for the film. Too large to fit through modern railway tunnels, the thing had to be placed on the back of a truck and driven from its original resting place in a Denver, Colorado museum to Montana at presumably huge expense. The train appeared in the film for a matter of minutes.

At the end of the day the film had cost 44 million. Which is nothing by today’s standards but back then it would have comparable to around half a billion in production terms. It was the kind of film that not only had to be a hit but had to be the biggest hit of all time.

Famously, it did not. "

Heaven's Gate was an epic box office disaster.  Not even liberals wanted to see it.  Yet it is now viewed as an important film among the Deep State class for it's fearless portrayal of vicimized immigrants on the American Frontier.

These movies and TV shows had one thing in common.  There were all geared for people with a new Urban Identity, one that clearly and explicitly rejected the people and values of rural America.  This rejection of American rural values is the bed rock upon which the Deep State Class rests.

1 comment:

Mark Moncrieff said...

Mr. Sergius

In 1969 a new ratings system was introduced to American television. Before that time it was a simple measure of numbers, how many people watched a particular program. But the new system also measured where people lived. They then used that information to work out how much money was other words the more money people had the better it was for the advertisers. What they worked out was that most people and so did the money lived in the cities so programming should be directed at them.

That meant that older shows like the ones you mentioned were cancelled and new shows created to replace them. Within the television industry this was hugely controversial and many opposed it, which lead to firings as well as resignations. All of which helped put new people in charge. As you have pointed out it is very clear which programs were made before 1970 and which were made after.

Also as we are talking about hypen Americans, are you Cataline Sergius, Latin-American or Roman-American?

Mark Moncrieff
Upon Hope Blog - A Traditional Conservative Future