By Melissa Langsam Braunstein
Thursday, August 10, 2017
Poor Judd Apatow. He’s apparently spent a lot of time reading self-help books in recent years. If only he had come to me earlier, I could have saved him so much time and money. Because after reading his interview with Vulture’s David Marchese, it’s quite clear to me: Apatow is a conservative, and I think he’d be happier if he just admitted that to himself.
I can see why he might be confused. After all, Apatow moved from New York to Hollywood. Apatow makes movies and television shows that feature sex and drug use that no cultural conservative wants their child mimicking. He also makes hostile comments to throw us all off the scent, such as:
This is related to the reason why you don’t see movies and television about Republican and conservative ideas — because Republicans are trying to present themselves as correct, as clean, as Mike Pence–y. Unlike them, I want people who actually evolve.
Because Judeo-Christian believers don’t believe in repentance, forgiveness, and redemption? Uh, no.
Apatow continues, “Does it make me a traditionalist if the way [my characters] evolve is toward a healthy relationship? Maybe.” Why yes, celebrating evolution toward healthy relationships is an inherently conservative activity. Apatow also presents as a traditionalist in a variety of respects. Let’s take a gander at just a few, shall we?
Apatow’s Marriage To Leslie Mann Is Atypically Strong
Since Apatow picked on Mike Pence, we’ll start there. Pence made headlines earlier this year for his marriage: beyond the kerfuffle over the Pences’ marital boundaries, the Washington Post also reported that Karen Pence was considered part of her husband’s inner circle in Indiana and was “so inextricably bound to her husband that even then-candidate Trump understood her importance and consulted her in critical campaign moments.”
Like Pence, Apatow’s marriage is atypical by his city’s standards. He’s been married to actress Leslie Mann, the mother of his two daughters, for 20 years. Not only do they live together, they work together too. Apatow has cast Mann as a lead in several of his movies, including “Knocked Up” and “This is 40.”
When Apatow’s Vulture interview turned to the subject of his college-aged daughter, Apatow reflected on her generation’s binge drinking:
You know kids are getting obliterated with alcohol, so you try to make concessions based on what you know the realities of college drinking are. You start out saying, “No, don’t drink.” Then that turns into, “Okay, two glasses of wine. Can you please just do two glasses of wine?” How do you teach your kid to be satisfied with a gentle buzz? That’s the challenge.
Conservative parents can undoubtedly relate to Apatow’s wanting to protect his daughter from the excesses of campus hookup culture. Similarly, Apatow’s encouraging her to embrace moderation reflects a timeless conservative value, encapsulated in the phrase “Moderation in all things.”
Apatow Doesn’t Kowtow To Feminist Orthodoxy
Then there’s Apatow’s unexpected answer to the ritual “are you a feminist?” question. He replies, “I don’t, at least not in those terms. I just try to do what’s right whenever I see the opportunity.”
I was actually surprised the interviewer let it go at that. I suspect Apatow believes in women’s equality—as does this not-a-feminist—but I appreciate his refusal to bow to the organized feminist movement. I’m not sure how much courageous company would willingly stand apart with him out in Hollywood, but this conservative woman does.
Next, consider that Apatow reports he judges actors and projects based on merit:
I’m sure I make mistakes. But I’m not working with Lena [Dunham] because I want women to do better; I’m working with Lena because she’s so inspiring. With Bridesmaids, I never thought, It’d be great if there was a movie that starred a lot of women and maybe that will help open some doors. It’s great if that ends up happening, but that sort of thinking is never the starting point. Same thing with The Big Sick. I’m not thinking about representing minorities. I’m not thinking about society. I’m thinking, No one else’s ever made a movie about someone like this. That means it’s not going to be hacky. It’ll be new. Now let’s make it great.
Now, we can disagree with Apatow’s calling Dunham “inspiring,” but he deserves credit for collaborating with her because he sees talent, rather than simply An Opportunity to Promote Women. Apatow’s focusing primarily on his craft, rather than diversity, is heretical for 2017 Hollywood.
Apatow Is Not Rabidly Anti-Diversity
Open-mindedness in hiring is also rather heretical. But consider Apatow’s response to whether he’d willingly work with an “outspoken conservative” like Kelsey Grammer:
It’s hard to know. What is a conservative these days? If somebody believes in lower taxes and is anti-abortion, does anybody care that they’re a conservative? I don’t think so. I think if you’re crazy, regardless of what party you’re with, people don’t want to be around you. Does anyone care that Kelsey Grammer is a Republican? No, he’s a genius. He’s one of the greatest comedic actors of all time. I’d work with him in a second. I respect people who have different points of view.
Apatow doesn’t care if someone’s “anti-abortion” or “conservative”? He’s able to appreciate Kelsey Gammer as “a genius,” rather than preemptively dismissing Grammer for his politics? That’s refreshing.
In the wake of #GoogleManifesto, it’s clear that Judd Apatow is not only more open-minded than nearly all college administrators, but also the corporate leadership at Mozilla and Google. Such tolerance for a range of opinions is precisely the sort of thing conservatives cheer and Social Justice Warriors protest.
Judd, Put Aside Stereotype And Embrace The Truth
Apatow’s also opened himself up to hatred from the Left by defending the right of “Confederate” to eventually (maybe?) exist. In response to Ta-Nehisi Coates’ urging Atlantic readers not to give “Confederate” the benefit of the doubt, Apatow tweeted, “Censorship is never a good idea. They haven’t even written a word. Seems a tad early to judge their work and intentions.”
This restraint, a willingness to wait and see before rushing to judgment, is a classically conservative move too.
How many more examples do you need? Judd, it’s time to put aside your stereotypes about how conservatives offer “an illusion of stability” or are “a household from the 1950s where the family is in a living hell because the dad’s a secret alcoholic.” We know—and deep down you know too—that’s false.
We believe in marriage, merit, meaningful art, freedom of expression, and not politicizing everything in sight — you know, the good stuff. And I promise your whole world will make so much more sense once you admit that you’re one of us. Because you are.