‘Showgirls’ Screenwriter’s Take on Hillary
Tinseltown veteran Joe Eszterhas is veering from 'loaded' leftist Hollywood
Joe Eszterhas was once the highest-paid screenwriter in Hollywood. He sold a $4 million script based on what he wrote on a cocktail napkin.
Two of his movies — “Basic Instinct” and “Jagged Edge” — had him at the top of every producer’s call sheet. He was a divisive, headline-grabbing rebel of a writer. His life of debauchery was a life many dreamed about.
“The election is crucial because if Trump wins … it might make things a little more balanced.”
Eszterhas, now in his 70s, is still a man with a life many dream about. He attends church regularly, has a beautiful family, and uses his talent for writing to take on subjects now important to him — specifically, the election and Hillary Clinton.
His new website, joeunchained.com, gives him an unfiltered platform for sharing his thoughts on the current election, political correctness, and even writing.
When it comes to politics, readers may be surprised by what an authority Eszterhas is in the arena. “I’ve been a political junkie my whole life,” Eszterhas told LifeZette. Part of that political junkie life included his early days as a reporter — long before he took Hollywood by storm.
It’s that experience that sets Eszterhas and his thoughts on the current election apart from others.
For instance, while many in the mainstream media have their doomsday clocks ticking away as they scream about Trump and throw around words like “racism,” “sexism,” and “violence” with little regard, Eszterhas feels a historical context is needed to better understand what’s happening.
“I put this stuff into context with stuff that I’ve seen,” he said.
“When I was a young reporter for the [Cleveland] Plain Dealer in ’68, I was very involved in the civil rights movement … covering [George] Wallace was surreal,” said Eszterhas.
“There was a moment in Toledo, Ohio, at the Toledo Mud Hens Stadium,” he explains, “[where] the reporters were all gathered together. Wallace was some distance away on a platform and it was a full minor league stadium and they were angry. They were totally Wallace creatures. And Wallace turned them up to the point where they were throwing rocks at us and we were dodging rocks midfield and it was because of his rhetoric. That was probably the single ugliest political incident I’ve seen and actually covered.”
He continued, “It’s impossible for people, young people, to understand how polarized it was and how ugly it was and how it could erupt into violence instantly.”
He added, “So this [the election] doesn’t approach those kinds of visceral levels. I reject the notion that Trump is purposefully trying to stir violence.”
Eszterhas, who says he’s supporting Trump mainly because the candidate is “really at war with political correctness,” understands he’s in the minority among Hollywood artists.
“There’s no doubt that Hollywood is loaded to the Left. And that’s in almost everything. It’s in television, it’s in movies, and it has a huge cultural influence. I’m not certain at all what people who pontificate about Hollywood, about politics in Hollywood know about politics, but because of their names they have a terrific amount of weight.”
That bias, he said, keeps those with opinions aligned more with the Right from speaking up. “There are a lot of people there who don’t feel that way, but they keep it very much to themselves because they’re worried about their livelihood. They’re essentially frightened of voicing the other opinion.”
Hollywood’s leftist bent, which seems to be of little help to Clinton this election, goes back to the Hollywood blacklist started in 1947, said Eszterhas. The witch hunt for propagandists and communists hidden within Hollywood’s wealth of artists left many soured and politically pushed to one side.
Those feelings have been “passed culturally through the generations,” said Eszterhas.
“In terms of Hollywood’s history, the writer’s guild, for example, was created on the backs of a lot of screenwriters who were blacklisted. Consequently, the blacklist swung a lot of things towards the Left. That influence, even though it’s been so many years, is still there in terms of family influences and kids of people it happened to … the blacklist has been romanticized.”
However, the “Showgirls” screenwriter sees hope for the future of Hollywood’s relationship with the Right.
He’s sees signs Hollywood is balancing out and moving towards the middle — with successful conservative-leaning art like Michael Bay’s “13 Hours” from earlier this year, and the many faith-based successes of producers Roma Downey and Mark Burnett. Another element that will help the pendulum swing, said Eszterhas, is none other than Donald Trump.
“I think in terms of Hollywood, the election is crucial because I think if Trump wins, you have a town that’s essentially filled with cowardice, and some people will be ready to come out into the open … it might make things a little more balanced.”