The story's title is the tip-off: "Volatile stories make him Hollywood's hot writer." Ah, "volatile." What could the headline writer possibly mean by that? We read on to find out.
After conservative critics attacked "Million Dollar Baby," painting it as a right-to-die movie, Haggis jokingly apologized at an awards banquet for "turning Clint Eastwood into a communist. I only tried to turn him into a socialist and overshot a bit."Hilarious, no? And I have a hunch that everyone at the awards banquet in question laughed heartily. Not that the movie industry is politically one-dimensional or anything, but my sneaking suspicion is that not many of those who were present found anything about the film troubling.
What other cinematic fare is Mr. Haggis preparing for us? Here are some previews of his works in progress, according to the L.A. Times article:
- "Flags of Our Fathers," the troubling true story of the six men who raised the flag on Iwo Jima.
- "Death and Dishonor," based on a Playboy article about a career Army officer whose soldier son is murdered by members of his platoon after returning from Iraq.
- "Crash," described as a "caustic portrait of Los Angeles as a melting pot boiling over with racial and ethnic strife."
Do you detect a pattern here? Hmm, these must be the "volatile" stories Haggis has in mind.
Haggis states his screenwriting philosophy: "If you're not provoking somebody, what's the point?"
Good question. My question back: Does Mr. Haggis ever write anything provoking liberals?
Here are two more paragraphs, which are interesting for what is clearly between the lines:
Even though Haggis is outspoken about his lifelong involvement with progressive politics — "I was probably the only kid in Canada getting Ramparts magazine" — he sees himself as a dramatist, not a polemicist. In fact, he's just as ambivalent about showbiz activism as he is about the characters in his scripts.I just love that. Times Reporter Patrick Goldstein refers to "a lifelong involvement in progressive politics." Let's not use words that are any more, ah, specific, like "liberal," or "Democrat," or "left-wing." Suppose Goldstein were to write this kind of a valentine to a conservative screenwriter (hey, pigs may fly someday-- you never know!). What adjectives do you think he'd use to describe that writer's politics? "Right wing" comes to mind.
More tellingly, Haggis makes the standard show biz denial: "I am a dramatist, not a polemicist." Translation: "Yes, I am a believing leftist, but I can't or won't admit that my work is dedicated to reflecting my narrow worldview."
As my 15 year-old son would say: "Not a polemicist, huh? Yeah, right."
Then there's this, which seems to be the evidence of Haggis' "ambivalence" toward Hollywood activism:
"People in Hollywood, including myself, are more comfortable telling other people how to live their lives without doing it ourselves," he says. "It's easier to get people to give money to save the rain forest than get solar panels on their own house."
Do these people take a standard course in Hollywoodspeak? You've got to love the standard claim to humility: "I am just a humble story-teller. I don't want to tell others how to live their lives. All of us working in the movies need to do better at 'walking the talk.' (Not that there's anything at all wrong with the talk, mind you.)"
That does not read like ambivalence toward activism; it's more a complaint that Hollywood types are not sufficiently dedicated to their activism.
Oh, well, read the whole thing. It's an unintentionally funny reminder of the way things are.