There’s a lot to like in Global Hollywood 2, and I would sum that up as its content. There’s something not to like as well, and that’s the tone of smug virtue that sometimes undercuts the book’s larger argument. For example, at one point the five authors write,

In 1960, Charlton Heston, one of the delightful people that SAG from time to time elects as its head prior to Presidency of either the country or the National Rifle Association, blamed fellow-workers for the runaways, asserting that the shift was due to the Screen Extras Guild calling for decent pay. (Miller et al 133)

I will admit to using the South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut approach to my journal submissions: I put in jokes and asides that I will gladly sacrifice to make the editors/outside readers feel like I’ve given in to their demands. So I know whereof I speak when I say there’s no reason to include the gag about SAG presidents. The main job of the sentence as it appears, I think it’s fair to argue, is to hit the massive bullseye made of Chuck Heston and Ronald Reagan. In terms of rhetoric, putting the emphasis on eye-rolling over NRA-Republican (read: totally shitty, obvs) stuff prevents the real matter of the sentence from shining through. The reason for this is the sentence’s construction: by putting so much distance between the subject and the verb, the authors cloud the key piece of information in the sentence – Heston was a shitty union man. I find this extremely curious, since the book’s thesis is that film studies does way too much abstract discursive business when it should be into praxis. Not that this moment in the book does anything to advance something quite simple and powerful – worker solidarity – in the world of praxis.

A second and minor point has to do with the authors’ characterization of SAG presidents. The majority of the SAG presidents between its founding and let’s say the early 1970s can fairly be described as “pretty damn conservative” – Edward Arnold, Senator-to-be George Murphy, future Ambassador to Mexico John Gavin. However, after the Reagan-Heston-HUAC friendly generation had their run, presidents like Dennis Weaver, Ed Asner, Barry Gordon, and Richard Masur all pull the SAG president spot on the partisan continuum to the left. James Cagney presents an interesting case, in that he was certainly a man of the left when he was SAG president and only later became quite conservative. Cagney may have been a Reagan booster, but he also had a concern for working conditions that shouldn’t get tossed aside because it’s easy to make a cold dead hands joke about the dude who played Moses.

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