Blacklisting Myself by Roger L. Simon [Book Review]

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Working in Hollywood or maybe even just living in our “post 9/11” world, its a daring thing to actually express an honest opinion. On anything. Much less mature and constantly evolving thoughts, prudently open for further consideration and evolution through discussion. (You know: thinking? Remember: “conversation?” The long lost art of rational and friendly debate?).

Our hyper-PC world is so full of snap judgment decisions and knee jerk volatile reactions, speaking your truth can get you eviscerated on all sides – from all radii of every spectrum. In a world where everything has been reduced to out of context clips or random tweets (or who sponsored the message or controls the medium), one meaningful or revealing comment can get you locked in a box with a label slapped on you forevermore by the smug, erroneous conclusion that that single utterance somehow reveals all the layers to your opinion and is the launch sequence for all the presumed toggle switches that define your entire life’s belief systems.

Usually, this is done by hypo (and hyper) critical people, oblivious to their own ludicrous dualities, who are just too terrified to take a cold hard look at the provenance of their own values – much less ever truly challenge them – to really, truly have earned the right to proselytize (not that that’s ever welcome). Instead, they are free to roam the earth, judging and pointing fingers, deliriously oblivious to their own delusions as to the inconsistencies between what they preach and how they “model” it.

I could go on and on – but this started out as a book review. Obviously, it got me thinking.

In Blacklisting Myself, Roger L. Simon has the balls to come out of the Hollywood political closet and lay his cards on the table. I respect that. Further, I agree with him on almost every point. And his journey is painfully poignant to so many in the artistic and entrepreneurial global arena.

An Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and mystery novelist, Roger L. Simon went from Mother Jones liberal, financing the Black Panther Breakfast Program; through some eerily familiar (let’s call them “development,” rather than “horror”) stories with Richard Pryor, Warren Beatty, Timothy Leary, Richard Dreyfuss, Woody Allen and even an odd, few hour blip with Barbra Streisand; to pioneering as one of the first modern Americans to get behind the iron curtain to see the real People’s Republic of China, Cuba and the Soviet Union (including a veiled KGB recruitment), to the elusive and fleeting red carpet moments, to a National Review endorsed 9/11 Democrat, to being an early adopter of – or shall we say, capitalizer on – the freedom of speech afforded in our new Wild West, our final frontier: the burgeoning blogosphere.

His is a fascinating and thoughtful, appreciably self-deprecating without posturing that he’s figured it all out yet – but on a sincere and genuine quest through many of the contemporary and relevant -isms: Marxism, Freudianism, Libertarianism, Laissez-Faire Capitalism, Zen Buddhism, Quaker Pacifism, Neoconservatism, Neoliberalsim to his terror at the surging Islamofascism.

Defying all labels – or at least stringently trying to jockey them – this is a refreshing memoir full of profound personal insights along an interesting journey, surveying the cross-section of politics, religion and media from the sixties to the post 9/11 new millennium.