Glenn Beck wants to take his conservative gospel to the streets — or at least to a movie theater near you.
In a profile in the National Review, Eliana Johnson writes that the former Fox host is shifting away from politics and toward cultural work. “I hated politics, I always have,” says the man who’s made an estimated $90 million from his political opining.
Beck said he’s planning to develop three “major motion pictures,” including one about the “real story of Christmas,” and another about Thomas Edison. Beck has already penned a fictional Christmas book, The Christmas Sweater, but his new venture would focus on criticizing the holiday’s commercialism. Writing a full-throated defense of Christmas is a surefire way to reinforce your conservative bona fides (and your pocketbook) — just ask Mike Huckabee or Sarah Palin.
Beck isn’t just doing battle against the War on Christmas, but against one of America’s most revered historical figures: Thomas Edison. “I started out liking Thomas Edison. I thought he was the quintessential American inventor,” Beck told S.E. Cupp last year. When asked why he hates Edison, he replied, “Just Google, ‘Topsy the Elephant’. Just start there.” He was referring to a circus elephant Edison cruelly electrocuted in an attempt to shame his rival, George Westinghouse. (While Beck may never have electrocuted a pachyderm to prove a point, he’s no stranger to taking cheap shots at his opponents). Nikola Tesla is “the real genius,” Beck insists, like an MIT freshman in a spirited dorm-room debate. And Tesla’s utopian view of the world is not so different from that of Ayn Rand, another hero of Beck’s.
Also on Beck’s Naughty List, for those keeping track: Levi’s (the “uniform of progress”), Darren Aronofsky (who directed the upcoming film Noah), Woodrow Wilson (a “president you should hate”), and Sen. Lindsey Graham (whom Beck called a “piece of garbage” for advocating diplomatic action against Russia).
Meanwhile, at the top of Beck’s Nice List is Walt Disney, who has influenced his past projects. Beck wants to build Independence, USA, a Disneyland-like “city-theme park hybrid” that would double as a free-market utopia.
Beck has always framed issues — political, historical, and cultural — as fables of good versus evil. He told the National Review, “We stand for stories of love and courage where the good guys win. We are a group of people who believe that the good guys actually win in the end.” In his mind, Beck is a great crusader for the soul of America. Through his various reincarnations as media mogul, civic leader, and now cultural dilettante, Beck has shown he has bits of both inventors in him — Tesla’s grandiose schemes, Edison’s showmanship. Still, we’re waiting for his light bulb moment.
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Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
“We haven’t seen a true leftist since FDR, so many millions are coming out of the woodwork to vote for Bernie Sanders; he is the Occupy movement now come to life in the political arena.” So says Bill Maher in his Hollywood Reporter cover story (more a stream-of-consciousness riff than an essay, actually). Conservative states may never vote for a socialist in the general election, but “this stuff has never been on the table, and these voters have never been activated.” Maher saves most of his bile for Donald Trump and Sarah Palin, writing that by nominating Palin as vice president “John McCain is the one who opened the Book of the Dead and let the monsters out.” And Trump is picking up where Palin left off.