Ours is a tragic age, but based on my cultural observations over the Christmas holidays hardly anyone appears to be taking it tragically.
Instead, people are blissfully adrift: eating, drinking, marrying, and being given in marriage. Few seem to be noticing the red tide rising.
The holidays always afford me the opportunity to take the temperature of the culture by taking in a few movies at the multiplex. Having worked in film for the past two decades, I remain in awe of its power as an art form. A well-made movie can be a transcendent, transporting experience. Unfortunately, the propaganda factor has swamped the American film industry to such an extent that it has become unbearable for me, so most of the movies I watch now are foreign. Once you start “seeing” the agitprop you can no longer not see it, and your ability to slip into suspended disbelief is forever compromised. So I visit the movie houses at Christmastime mostly to see how the train wreck is progressing.
I’ll state it as plainly as Archie Bunker would: there’s a Commie bias in Hollywood films—nearly all of them. The Cultural Marxism unleashed by the “Frankfurt School” nearly a century ago has become the dominant philosophy of the western world. Its overt proselytism is pervasive and relentless. The Tinseltown propaganda machine has changed our culture in astonishing ways over the past 50 years, and up next is nothing less than the forced revision of our very identities as men and women.
This isn’t just a theory. It is manifestly obvious to anyone with eyes to see. In January of 1963, the House of Representatives reviewed and entered into the Congressional record a document entitled “Communist Goals for Taking Over America,” derived from researcher Cleon Skousen’s book The Naked Communist. In addition to such tactics as promoting the UN as the only hope for mankind, capturing one or both of the political parties in the United States, softening the curriculum of schools and infiltrating the press, it contained the following agenda items:
- Gain control of key positions in radio, TV, and motion pictures.
- Continue discrediting American culture by degrading all forms of artistic expression.
- Break down cultural standards of morality by promoting pornography and obscenity in books, magazines, motion pictures, radio, and TV.
- Present homosexuality, degeneracy and promiscuity as “normal, natural, healthy.”
- Eliminate all laws governing obscenity by calling them “censorship” and a violation of free speech and free press.
You’d think we would have heard about all this in school. But alas, the Cultural Marxists swept into American academic institutions at the same time they infiltrated Hollywood, prompted by influential radicals like Antonio Gramsci, the Italian Communist who argued that the Left could transform society by seizing control of the “cultural means of production” via a “march through the institutions,” including academia.
I’d also never learned about or read Bella Dodd while at St. Augustine’s or Notre Dame. Dodd spoke of the infiltration of the Catholic Church by Soviet agents and Commie fellow-travelers in the mid-twentieth century, identifying the Catholic Church as the only one “feared” by the Communists. Clerical fellow-travelers would become a new threat along with the older Modernist one previously identified by Pope St. Pius X as posing the greatest danger to the Church. Dodd echoed Pius’s claim that the attempted destruction of the Church would be carried out from within.
After her expulsion from the Party in the early 1950s, Dodd fell in with Bishop Fulton J. Sheen and revealed how in the 1930s “we put eleven hundred men into the priesthood in order to destroy the Church from within.” The idea was for these men to be ordained and then climb the ladder of influence and authority—to become monsignors and bishops. “Right now,” she wrote, “they are in the highest places, and they are working to bring about change … changes that would be so drastic that you will not recognize the Catholic Church.”
It appears Ms. Dodd—and Sen. Joseph McCarthy—was right about the “Red Scare” in twentieth-century America. Our institutions were besieged while academia and the news media pretended all was well. Feminine Mystique author Betty Friedan was a secret Communist Party member, and pioneering gay activists such as Harry Hay were also Reds.
Dodd is said to have predicted that once the priest-infiltrators became bishops their influence would spread because “bishops beget bishops.” They would use their leverage to elevate and promote clergymen who would not necessarily be dedicated Communists, but who were of a progressive, “rainbow” mentality and whose influence would foster a new philosophy and theology within the ranks of the clergy. This is why things are the way they are today both in the Church and in the culture.
Awake to the Propaganda Reality of Film
I awoke from my personal media-driven stupor a couple of decades ago and started seeing the disturbing signs. So thankfully, from the time my children were young, I whispered in their ears in dark theaters phrases like, “Here comes the obligatory ‘father-is-an-idiot’ scene,” or “Here is where they disparage Christianity,” or “Here’s where they advance the gay agenda.” And it played out like clockwork. Now my grown kids predict such scenes and plot devices themselves. They and their friends are awake to the propaganda reality, and aware also that these scenes are the reasons why most of the movies get made and distributed in the first pace.
I started seeing the corruption while at film school in New York, but I did not see all of it, for I could not have imagined the extent of it then, or the venality of the propagandizers. Working closely with Mel Gibson on The Passion of the Christ, I would think he was off his rocker every time he’d go on about how the Curia had been corrupted and the liturgy ruined and sacraments were invalid in places. All that was a bridge too far for me at the time, but, like Bella Dodd and Joe McCarthy, Mel was right about much.
In any event, I went to see three movies over Christmas break—Clint Eastwood’s The Mule, Bradley Cooper’s A Star Is Born, and the Freddie Mercury/Queen biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody—and, as usual, I was both entertained and upset by them. These are engaging films that are all marred by the worst kind of roll-your-eyes propaganda that our still largely naïve and gullible public passively absorbs.
Clint’s movie is excellent on balance but not without cave-ins to the prevailing left wing culture. I’ve long recognized and endured the advancement of the homosexual agenda in movie after movie over the years. At this point, practically every movie ever made contains some genuflection to the gay culture, and Clint’s newest is no exception.
The character Clint portrays, a 90-year-old horticulturalist who made all the wrong decisions in life and suddenly finds that he has nothing and no one in his old age, decides to become a courier, i.e., a “mule,” to make some fast cash and at least win the favor of his endearing granddaughter. Mission accomplished as he gets infused with instant drug riches and the concomitant rise in social status. Stopping for a meal on one of his drug runs, he encounters a biker gang which turns out to be a group of motorcycle lesbians—“dykes on bikes”—who in their moment of recognition in a major movie jump at the chance to squeeze their breasts and boast of their manliness. Gone are the days of charm and sweetness to gain favor. Today it’s all head banging Antifa and in-your-face nasty. This is the advancement of the gay agenda with a twist. Reminiscent of Neil Jordan’s The Crying Game, released during my “awakening” period in film school, one minute you’re looking at a standard American biker gang and the next you’re seeing, as if through a kaleidoscope lens, an agitated group of angry women who menace an old man for not recognizing their femaleness.
Even Clint needs to bow to the modern-day altar of gender confusion. It was a completely gratuitous scene, like all gay commercials, doing nothing at all to advance the story. But it needed to be there for the same reason that a hagiographic Ruth Bader Ginsberg biopic needed to be advertised before the film—to get the masses thinking “the right way” on an issue. We must be indoctrinated to believe that mean and hostile biker women are acceptable without question. We must be indoctrinated to believe that RBG is the greatest justice to ever grace the Supreme Court.
More Obligatory Gay Agitprop
A Star Is Born raised the obligatory gay agitprop scene to a whole other level. With homosexual marriage already enshrined into law, the next frontier of the Godless left is the normalization of transgenderism. Bradley Cooper—to my surprise, because I thought he was a normal male, treats viewers to the longest transgender scene in (mainstream) cinematic history when his aging, alcoholic character drifts into a drag bar and encounters a singer with serious vocal chops belting out Edith Piaf’s “La Vie en Rose.” This, of course, is Stefani Germanotta, aka Lady Gaga, unmasked but provocative as ever, bringing down the house with one of her trademark performances. This is what’s required, you see, to get millions of people to stare, rapt, for half an hour (or so it seemed) at XCUs (extra close-ups) of men in drag with painted faces, bouffants, and eyelash extensions at a two-drink-minimum “bring-your-own-boobs” establishment. Again, mission accomplished. Transnormative agenda advanced. It’s the Star Wars “Cantina Scene” redux, only the characters in this one are wunnnderful: funny, loving, and supportive, to a man. They’re fantastic, all of them—so don’t complain when they read to your kids at the library story hour.
In the following scene we’re treated to Germanotta, in a straight bar now, socking an off-duty cop in the kisser, repeatedly, for bugging the Bradley Cooper character, whom she’s taken a liking to. So you get girl power and anti-police narratives advanced simultaneously in one scene.
The RBG advertisement was by no means the only movie trailer to advance an agenda that’s as disruptive, transgressive, left wing, and anti-Catholic as ever. A preview to a film called “Greta,” which I thought might be a movie about Garbo, turned out instead to be about a possessed stalker who is today’s answer to Glenn Close’s “every-Lothario’s-worst-nightmare” Fatal Attraction turn. Only this one blesses herself while surrounded by Catholic iconography when she’s not perpetrating horrors on her terrified victim. Nowadays, the monsters are not in the biker gangs or drag bars or Supreme Court. They’re in the Church.
Next came a preview of Captain Marvel, the comic book character Lennon sings about in “Bungalow Bill,” who I didn’t realize was female. Once again, audiences were treated to the kind of desensitizing, smash-mouth brutality that’s meant to exorcize the demons haunting the male-hating feminists who make these anti-patriarchal films.
Then came the third feature of my Christmas week, the one I was looking forward to the most: Bohemian Rhapsody. I was entranced by that song the first time I heard it as a young lad on the bus to school. I expected gay aggrandizement in the film, of course, because Freddie was so out there before dying of AIDS in 1991. What I did not expect was the tender, male-on-male open-mouthed kissing scenes, again in XCU, sustained, and with the kind of intimate sound design that makes you practically feel the actors’ tongues slithering into your ear.
I’m conflicted about Queen. I loved the music they produced during my growing up years. “You’re My Best Friend” is simply lovely. “Bohemian Rhapsody” woke me up to the emotional power of pop music during my grade school years. “We Are the Champions” united rival competitors at my swim meets and became the anthem of my high school swimming years. However, I never wanted my children to sing lines like “I sometimes wish I’d never been born at all,” or “nothing really matters … to me,” or worst of all, “Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me,” and in so doing program their brains.
When I was young I thought of Freddie Mercury as I had thought of Elton John before him—a flamboyant and exuberant attention-seeking showman intent on driving record sales. Now I pity him as a man who was raised by loving, straight-laced parents in a monotheistic tradition who got engaged to a beautiful girl but eventually surrendered to his lusts and then feared the eternal consequences of doing so. His is a sobering cautionary tale. We must remain ever on our guard.
So what is a faithful Catholic to do in the face of all this, as the walls of the culture and Church tremble and collapse all around us? Should we see these movies at all? Perhaps it is the duty of some of us to do so and report back on what we see so that others will gain the perspective needed to withstand the assault. For the tide is high and rising.
Editor’s note: Pictured above is a scene from the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody released by 20th Century Fox in November 2018.