This section of DiscoverTheNetworks explores the anti-Americanism of many major cultural figures. This posture is most notable among the “glitterati” -- high-profile actors, producers, and directors commonly referred to as “The Hollywood Left.”
Hollywood personalities have been politically active since the 1930s. Many were on the political left—New Deal liberals such as Humphrey Bogart, director John Huston, and actress Lauren Bacall; others such as actor John Garfield and playwright Lillian Hellman were communists. But there was also a large contingent of conservatives after the war, worried about the infiltration of their industry—Walt Disney, Ronald Reagan (a former Roosevelt liberal), and John Wayne among them.
But by the 1960s, the permissible stance for cultural figures who sought also to be recognized as activists was restricted to the left. In this regard, actress Jane Fonda, a self-proclaimed “revolutionary,” is a groundbreaking figure. A leading opponent of the Vietnam war, she adopted the political ideas of the New Left and made them chic in Hollywood. “If you understood what communism was,” she told college audiences during public appearances in the early 1970s, “you would hope, you would pray on your knees that we would some day become communist.” The dual villains of Southeast Asian conflicts were, in Fonda's view, “U.S. imperialism” and “a white man’s racist aggression.” In the summer of 1972 Fonda made her now-infamous trip to North Vietnam, where she posed for photos on an anti-aircraft gun that had been used to shoot down American planes, and made several radio addresses characterizing American servicemen as war criminals. A strong supporter of Huey Newton and the Black Panthers (to whom she referred as “our revolutionary vanguard”), Fonda also immersed herself in radical causes like the American Indian movement and Black Power.
Fonda received such notoriety for her stance that others in Hollywood followed her lead. Not only did adopting a radical posture not have a deleterious effect on their box office appeal, it actually became an almost necessary career move. Fonda herself encouraged other Hollywood personalities to become activists, especially after her marriage to onetime New Left radical Tom Hayden. Figures throughout the entertainment industry gradually accepted leftism as a philosophy that set them apart from the majority of Americans and made them appear to have commitments that transcended the make-believe that dominated their professional lives.
Filmmaker Michael Moore, himself a former New Left activist, gained a following in Hollywood by making pronouncements such as this one (during the Iraq War): “The Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation [i.e. the U.S., British and other coalition forces] are not ‘insurgents’ or ‘terrorists’ or ‘The Enemy.’ They are the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow – and they will win.” Moore characterizes the United States as a nation infested with racism and injustice domestically, and with a lust for empire globally.
Like Moore, actor Danny Glover, a fan of Castro and Hugo Chavez, has made many scathing denunciations of the U.S., asserting that “one of the main purveyors of violence in this world has been this country, whether it's been against Nicaragua, Vietnam or wherever.”
Actor Ed Asner, also an admirer of the longtime Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, has said: “Socialist means a thing that will curb the excesses of capitalism – the increasing wealth of the rich and decreasing wealth of the poor.” Condemning America's "imperialist government," Asner in 2004 ascribed the U.S. invasion of Iraq to "a strong streak of racism."
Singer Harry Belafonte, who charges that American foreign policy “has made a wreck of this planet,” has supported anti-American causes throughout his entire professional life and been an unabashed supporter of the world communist movement. In 1983, for instance, he was a keynote speaker at a rally arranged by the East German Communist police state, at which he called on his own country to disarm in the face of the Soviet threat. In June 2000 Belafonte traveled as a guest of Fidel Castro to Havana, where he delivered a teary-eyed speech at a rally honoring America’s atomic spies, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.
For these people, America is guilty even when it is the victim. In the wake of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, for instance, author Norman Mailer wrote: “Everything wrong with America led to the point where the country built that tower of Babel, which consequently had to be destroyed.”