Any doubt that political punditry has now turned into pro wrestling should be dispelled by William Kristol’s challenge to debate Matt Damon for calling him an idiot on such issues as the Iraq War — not to mention new blog Big Hollywood‘s offer to bankroll the $100,000 cage match. (How will they come up with the money? I smell another unfunded mandate.) As entertaining as it would be to see the two Harvard-educated experts engage in erudite repartee, it sounds like a lose-lose for both of them. If Kristol gets whupped, he’s lost a political debate to the guy who made Stuck on You; if he wins, well, big deal, he’s beaten the guy who made Stuck on You. If Damon (pictured) loses, he looks like a typical know-nothing Hollywood actor for his initial remarks, but if he wins, he’s only beaten a guy mercilessly ridiculed in the left blogosphere for being so wrong about everything all the time that even the New York Times let him go with an unceremonious don’t-let-the-door-hit-you-on-the-way-out notice on Monday. (Moments later, Kristol landed a new sinecure at the Washington Post. Like the Weekly Standard editor/Fox News contributor needs another outlet for his underexposed opinions? Dude’s got more platforms than Elton John.) Damon should let this double-dog-dare slide (if he’s even aware of it) and go back to making kick-ass spy thrillers and recording Howard Zinn audiobooks.
The reaction over at Big Hollywood is instructive. The site, which launched earlier this month, seems to want to be the conservative answer to the Huffington Post (a mix of celebrities, political experts, and people no one’s ever heard of, all opining on pop culture and politics), but it clearly has disdain for the opinions of most celebrities, and so do the 1,100-plus people who’ve commented on the Kristol-Damon item so far. The Big Hollywood bloggers see themselves as an embattled minority within liberal Hollywood (shouldn’t they call themselves “Little Hollywood,” then?), even as they claim Hollywood’s biggest successes as their own (Did you know The Dark Knight was a right-wing parable about supporting the Bush War on Terror? Neither did I.) while dismissing the folks who actually have lucrative gainful employment in Hollywood as out-of-touch liberals whose propaganda fails to move the populace. (Obama fan Tom Hanks, you’re no everyman — unless you decide to make Forrest Gump 2: Gump Harder.) They think the marketplace should favor conservative movies, but since that’s not happening, they’d apparently like some quotas in their favor. They don’t understand why, if the market is the ultimate arbiter of what’s art, the marketplace is so full of movies that pander to the lowest common denominator and promote ideals that make family values conservatives aghast. And of course, they don’t realize that, if their supposedly deep thinkers like Kristol want to engage the entertainment arena on the level of spectacle, they’ve already ceded the moral and intellectual high ground. Once you turn a political debate into an episode of Hannity and Colmes, or a YouTube video to be shared via e-mail. you might as well let Vince McMahon be the moderator.