Hollywood, Tinseltown, the city of dreams and movies. A place where movie magic comes to life. We have seen our fair share of movies ranging from the classics to the blockbuster hits, dramas, biopics, and comedies, and we made stars out of the actors and actresses who captured hearts and minds with their performances. We have loved the myth of Hollywood, its glamour, the magical moments, the red carpet looks, and the awards; however, Hollywood was never a place of freedom and equality.
There are a couple of things wrong with Hollywood, from inequality of pay and treatment to the lack of diversity, oppression, and abuse of power that included harsh treatment of child actors, but now, more than ever, the ugly side of Hollywood revealed itself with its censorship and blacklisting of actors who speak about Palestine.
A couple of days ago, Melissa Barrera was fired from Scream 7 because she supported Palestine, and Susan Sarandon was dropped from her talent agency for participating in a protest against the Israeli occupation, while other stars like Gal Gadot, Noah Schnapp, Amy Schumer and Sarah Silverman who support Israel and made hate speeches against Arabs and Muslims are safe and have faced no consequences. This double standard goes back to the dawn of Hollywood.
Blacklisting in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s
Here’s somewhat of a summary of Hollywood blacklisting in the 1930s, 40s and 50s. In 1938, the United States House of Representatives formed the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HCUA), popularly known as the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) to investigate allegations of disloyalty and subversive behavior by private citizens, public officials, and other government officials for those deemed to have communist ties, as well as employees.
In 1947, the committee investigated Hollywood, leading to the Hollywood Ten, (screenwriters and directors) who were cited for contempt of Congress and blacklisted after refusing to answer questions about their alleged involvement with the Communist Party and for contempt of Congress in addition to being sentenced to brief imprisonment.
Other Actors and actresses who plead the fifth or refuse to answer questions about their involvement with the Communist Party have been blacklisted from Hollywood with their names being listed in Red Channels an anti-Communist document published in the 1950s by Counterattack, identifying 151 actors, writers, musicians, and broadcast journalists accused of Communist manipulation in the entertainment industry.
Despite this “brief” there’s a lot more to the story of the blacklist and censor this is considered a mark of shame in Hollywood history and unfortunately, Hollywood hasn’t learned its lesson.
Actors Being Blacklisted and Criticized for Speaking Up by Hollywood: From the 70s till Now
In 1970, American Actress Jane Fonda was arrested for drug possession, but this was widely seen as an overt cover by the Nixon administration for her activism and her constant voicing for being anti the Vietnam War.
In 2003, American film director Michael Moore faced backlash and was booed in his Oscar acceptance speech for criticizing the Iraq war and the Bush Administration.
As of recently, Halsey has spoken out in support of the Palestinian cause, stating that her silence was based on the threads made by Zionists who told her to be silent. Also, Macklemore went to a Palestine protest and spoke about his support for the cause and his lack of interest in keeping his career going in the music industry if he kept quiet about his support for Palestine. Maha Dakhil, one of Hollywood’s most important agents faced internal backlash and resigned from the agency's board because she supported the Palestinian cause.
It was also reported that Gabriella Karefa-Johnson, Fashion Editor at Vogue has resigned from the magazine allegedly because Vogue staff have distanced themselves from her after she supported Palestine and posted anti-Israel posts.
And as mentioned above both Melissa Barrera and Susan Sarandon were dropped out of projects and faced tons of backlash for their political activism.
The Irony of Hollywood and Freedom of Speech
What the recent events happening in Palestine right now and the way Hollywood was quick to jump on the pro-Israel propaganda train, is the irony of making movies about freedom, justice, and equality, and yet these rules don’t apply to the Middle East nor the people who speak the truth. In the 2010s, we have seen many movies that talk about fighting the oppression and the horrors of wars and of desensitization of death like The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Maze Runner, all of which had huge success and were impactful, yet no one can see the similarities of the themes made in the books and films to the reality of Palestine.
Hollywood has shown its true face and is exposed for the double standards they follow, from censoring actors, blacklisting people to signing letters to Biden in support of the No Hostage Left Behind Act. In Hollywood, freedom is here but only for those who follow the status quo with no questions asked.
Is A New Leaf About to Begin??
Right now, with the rise of social media, people have seen the horrors of war, the younger generation has stopped listening to the propaganda machine made by the Western media and has started to question the truth. People no longer care about Hollywood elites, and the movies they make, in fact, despite many actors voicing hate speech about the Middle East, audiences have dropped them with many are boycotting the movies and shows, canceling their subscriptions, and only putting their money to support the cause.
Hollywood may not be ending right now, but the cracks of their hypocrisy are shown and people will not forget this.