Ben Hecht (February 28, 1894 – April 18, 1964) was an American screenwriter, director, producer, playwright, and novelist. He became very successful in Hollywood where he authored or co-wrote stories or screenplays for more than 70 films. He was named one of the most successful screenwriters of his day and won the first Oscar presented for the category of screenwriter for the movie “Underworld” in 1927. The classic movies in his credits include Scarface (1932) Some Like It Hot, Wuthering Heights and Gone with the Wind (all 1939), Notorius and Spellbound (1945-1946) and Mutiny on the Bounty (1962).
Ben Hecht was a Zionist and desperate to rescue the imperiled Jewry of Europe. Although he enjoyed a lucrative career he began to loathe Hollywood for ignoring and evading the critical and “controversial” issues of the day and creating only “harmless entertainment.”
Fast forward to a man who shares the first name with Hecht, namely, Ben Shapiro whose dazzling new book “Primetime Propaganda: The True Hollywood Story of How the Left Took Over Your TV” scrupulously exposes how “harmless entertainment” became decidedly harmful propaganda.
Ben Hecht died before television and cable became a 24/7 bounty of entertainment, education, news, and, as Shapiro so well documents, a vehicle for leftist indoctrination. The fount for that subliminal propaganda is the Hollywood once derided by Ben Hecht and its producers, screenwriters, performers and executives.
In his book Ben Shapiro shows how so many “harmless entertainment” shows were subtly changing our national culture and our mores. Programs that we watched and enjoyed were actually promoting serious challenges to our politics, our morals and our national pride. Conservatives, law enforcement, and businessmen were increasingly depicted as rubes, racist boors, and objects of scorn, while the counterculture was depicted as liberal, reasonable and superior even in seemingly apolitical sit-coms.
Read this marvelous book. You will be enlightened and surprised and furious.
But, who is Ben Shapiro? For starters he is the author of a book named “Brainwashed: How the Universities Indoctrinate America’s Youth” which describes how students and so many of the entertainment elite described in “Primetime Propaganda” got their leftist credentials.
If I could use one word to describe Ben Shapiro, it is his intellectual “diversity”- a word hijacked by the “politically correct” to have a cultural definition that might give Shapiro hives.
In addition to his previous books “Porn Generation: Bad Hair and Botox on the Road to the White House” and “Porn Generation: How Social Liberalism is Corrupting Our Future” Ben Shapiro is author of hundreds of fabulous columns on a wide variety of issues. They range from critiques of President Obama, to scolding Jews who deride Israel, to scathing appraisals of the whining air-heads of “The View”, to toppling the faux environmentalist cult of “Earth-Day”, to the danger of appeasement of radical Moslems, to Obamacare death panels, to the economy and false jobs statistics, to an appraisal of Sarah Palin. I can’t name them all, but to my knowledge he has never written on the battle campaigns of the Peloponnesian War. However, given the breadth and scope of his knowledge and skill I will not swear to it.
I am delighted and honored by this opportunity to interview Ben Shapiro.
RK: In your book you accuse government and leftist interest groups of colluding to shut down all conservative programming. Could you give us an overview?
Ben Shapiro: In essence, the government uses proxy groups like GLAAD to serve as its functionaries in monitoring the television industry. Because politicians don't have time to follow the boob tube night in and night out -- they're too busy texting their genitals to random
women, apparently -- they rely on their political allies to do it. That serves two purposes. First, it keeps television left. Second, it keeps those groups happy, and those are the groups that get out the vote for the liberal politicians. It's what I call the "Celluloid Triangle," in which interest groups make payoffs to politicians and politicians encourage television to work with those groups to push an agenda.
RK: What did you think about Steven Spielberg’s movie “Munich?”….
Ben Shapiro: Horrific. It could have been great. But when you have a militant anti-Israel activist in Tony Kushner writing a story about how righteous Israel goes after evil Palestinians, you know he's going to reverse the morality.
RK: Speaking of “Munich” what do you make of the brouhaha over Tony Kushner and the controversy surrounding his honorary degree at CUNY? Have you seen or read his latest play?
Ben Shapiro:I haven't seen or read his latest play, so I hesitate to comment on it other than to say that it's called "The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism With a Key to the Scriptures." Pretty sure that ain't gonna be either fun or intelligent. As far as Kushner's award from CUNY, it was absurd to give him the award in the first place. But absurdity is the mark of liberal academia. The only thing more absurd, in fact, is the American Jewish community which stood by him even though he is an anti-Israel nut job. As I've written, too many Jews are Jews in name only, in that they don't care about anything except their liberal credentials. Kushner and his allies fall squarely within that category.
RK: David Mamet is an apostate from the liberal cult you write about. Any comments?
Ben Shapiro: David is a brave guy. I want him to come out and expose the liberal bias in Hollywood, and join the quest to end it. He's big enough and talented enough to do it.
RK: You have written about “earth day”….do you think environmentalism is another manifestation of far left indoctrination?
Ben Shapiro:It is the latest and most powerful incarnation of far left indoctrination, without a doubt. Deep green environmentalism is explicitly anti-human. Normal green environmentalism is far less anti-human -- it's just socialist. The whole premise of
environmentalism is that industrialization is bad, that human standards of living destroy the environment, and that the whole planet would be better off if we'd leave off the development and move backward. The result is a socialistic mindset that says in order to achieve the foregoing, we'd best redistribute wealth. Only one problem: the least developed countries are the places that are the most environmentally damaged (see India and China). And these people call themselves progressives?
RK: In your book you write about the Association of National Advertisers’ Alliance for Family Entertainment, and its stated mission. Tell us about it.
Ben Shapiro: They have spent time and money purchasing time from the major networks to air made-for-TV movies that are family friendly. It's a wonderful idea. Now they have to stop thinking about that as a charitable effort, and start thinking about it as a business effort.
The fact is that there is tons of money to be made by targeting families and older audiences. They need to create great sitcoms, great drama pilots. That's how they can turn that goodwill into an industry-wide shift.
RK: You wrote about Frank Rich and the outrageous accusations from the left. Any comments about the TV ad of granny getting pushed off a cliff or any other egregious examples?
Ben Shapiro:You see those egregious examples all the time: Glee ripping Sarah Palin or CSI attacking the Tea Party. Those aren't the really damaging elements of liberal TV. It's subtle liberal TV that actually accomplishes something. It's creating characters you like and want to hang out with, who then do things with which you don't agree. Then the left turns to you and says, "How can you be against unwed motherhood if you watch Friends? Or gay marriage if you watch Will & Grace?" That's the stuff that's tremendously effective.
RK: Do you think popular culture, the media and legislators deliberately avoid the issues of Jihad and terrorism and the threats to homeland security?
Ben Shapiro:Absolutely. Just look at what happened with 24, where the terrorist-connected Council on American-Islamic Relations basically leveraged Fox into having Kiefer Sutherland disown the entire show before each episode, just because the terrorists on the show happened to be Muslim (as are most of the terrorists across the world). When's the last time you saw a Muslim terrorist on TV who wasn't portrayed as a victim of Western imperialism? For that matter, when's the last time you saw a Muslim terrorist on TV?
RK: Can you tell us what are the qualities you would like in a presidential candidate? You have written about Marco Rubio and Sarah Palin. Is there anyone else?
Ben Shapiro:I love what I see in Rick Perry. I have two requirements: speak articulately about conservative principles, and don't be boring. That takes out almost everyone in the Republican field. The exceptions at this point: Perry and Bachmann. Romney is a disaster
area and no conservative should touch him. The Tea Party started around the issue of Obamacare, so it is astounding to me that so many Republican insiders want to nominate the ONLY candidate who cannot run against Obamacare.
RK: In April 2010 you wrote a letter to American Jews decrying their support for the Obama administration. In May of this year you wrote a column called “Jews in Name Only”. Both reminded me of the travails of Ben Hecht. Please elaborate.
Ben Shapiro: Everyone wants to lump all Jews together. But just because we're born Jewish doesn't mean all of us practice or even care about Judaism. Ben Hecht had to go through hell to defend Israel and the Jewish people. If I have to do the same, I will. I will not, however, allow the media to lump all Jews together, or portray Jews who do not give a damn about Israel or Judaism as the true advocates of Judaism. Obama is clearly an enemy of Israel, and of the Jews who inhabit it; any Jew who supports him in the next election cycle is a Jew in name only.
RK: You recently wrote a column about Thomas Friedman and the slanted reporting on the “Arab spring.” Is there any hope in that part of the world?
Ben Shapiro:Not at the moment. The hope has to come from within. Christianity moderated itself. So did Communism, with a lot of pressure from us. We can help fund and pick leaders in the Islamic world who will fix things, but we have to stop being so afraid of our own "imperialist" shadow and serve our interest -- which happen to coincide with the interests of the global community, if they'd get over their multicultural nonsense.
RK: Just for the record. Did you ever write about the Peloponnesian War?
Ben Shapiro: That may in fact be the only thing I've never written about!
RK: Ben Shapiro thank you for your book, your time, your talent and your passion.
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Ruth S. King is a freelance writer who writes a monthly column in OUTPOST, the publication of Americans for a Safe Israel.