“Indoctrinate U” examines higher learning’s left wing bias
IRONICALLY ENOUGH, aspiring conservative documentarian Evan Coyne Maloney received his inspiration from Michael Moore, the left-wing firebrand responsible for the anti-gun polemic Bowling for Columbine and the anti-Bush screed Fahrenheit 9/11. This isn’t to say that Moore inspired him figuratively: Maloney literally stopped Moore on the street, interviewed him, and left with some helpful knowledge. When Maloney confronted the Oscar winner about the liberal slant of most Hollywood-produced documentaries, Moore responded thusly:
“I agree with you. I think this art form should be open to people of all political persuasions and not just be people who are liberal or left of center or whatever. . . . You want to encourage all voices to be heard because that’s the best way to have, to come up with the best decisions in a free society. You don’t want just one voice or one stream of thought being put out there. . . . Make your movies and then the people will respond, or not respond, to them.”
Taking this advice to heart, Maloney posted the video of this exchange on his blog in 2003 along with a note that read “I have not yet received payment for the services I have rendered to the [vast right wing] conspiracy. I’ll assume this is merely a clerical error on your part and will expect remuneration shortly.” This tongue-in-cheek plea for cash was not entirely sarcastic and his fishing expedition landed a nice haul–Stuart Browning, the cofounder of Embarcadero Technologies (a software company that was named 2000′s best IPO).
“He sort of threw down the gauntlet,” Browning said of Maloney. “Hey, you know, why can’t we make these sorts of things too? Why can’t conservatives have a voice in this art form too?” Intrigued by Maloney’s appeal, Browning then “sent him an email and said ‘what would it cost, and what kind of projects are you interested in?’ That’s how we met.”
“He was the guy that put up the first dollars to get” Indoctrinate U going, Maloney says in an interview. “He, and I, and another gentleman, Blaine Greenberg, decided to start a production company after I was able to convince them that there was a feature-length film in analyzing what is going on on college campuses.” Browning was interested. “At that point I was pretty well versed on the topic, having read Dinesh D’Souza’s books, and Bloom, Closing of the American Mind. I had read all the literature and was very open to the idea,” Browning said, adding “And [Evan] looked like a college student! Even though he’d been out of college for a while, he looked the ideal guy to play the part.”
WITH FUNDING IN PLACE, Maloney set out on his quest to gather material for the documentary. “We were looking for specific cases that were fairly well-documented that would show different examples of people having their free speech or free thought rights trampled on campus,” Maloney says.
There was no shortage of topics. The free-wheeling film first documents the rise of the “campus free speech movement” in the 1960s and ’70s, then cuts to examples of modern-day conservatives being shouted down and otherwise intimidated on college campuses. Ward Connerly is verbally assaulted for daring to disagree with campus orthodoxy on the issue of affirmative action and black professors like John McWhorter, formerly of UC-Berkeley, Carol Swain of Vanderbilt University’s Law School, and Temple’s Lewis Gordon all express their dismay with the current state of the academy, and the suppression of intellectual diversity therein.
From there, Maloney looks at the deprivations some conservative students have faced. He highlights the Kafka-esque nightmare faced by Steve Hinkle, a student at California Polytechnic, who the school attempted to sanction for placing a flier in the university’s multicultural center announcing a speech by conservative African-American author, Mason Weaver.
Maloney points out the intimidation tactics used against ROTC recruiters on campus, including a students protest designed to shut down a college job fair the Army Corps of Engineers is attending. The litany goes on and on, with conservative student publications stolen and professors told “we never would have hired you if we knew you were a Republican.” Daniel Pipes sums it up best noting, “Going to a university today in the United States is like joining a church–you have to be a believer, you have to have the right set of views, or you’re excluded.”
The documentary combines relatively shocking footage (one professor excitedly tells the camera “whiteness is a form of racial oppression . . . treason to whiteness is loyalty to humanity”) with snappy editing to create a documentary that bounces quickly from subject to subject. It’s not a perfect production–Indoctrinate U tends to bog down a little when Maloney tries to ambush subjects who haven’t replied to multiple requests for interviews. But these segments illustrate an important point: Rather than face a rational discussion with someone who disagrees with them, many academics simply call the cops. (Maloney even had the police called on him at his alma mater, Bucknell.)
WITH FILMING AND EDITING COMPLETE, Maloney is now looking for a way to distribute his film, which is an expensive proposition. “Your first set of prints will probably run you $20,000 to $25,000, and every set after that will be $2,000 to $3,000,” Maloney says. It is virtually impossible for an independent filmmaker to shoulder that cost and convince theaters to run the films. If Indoctrinate U is going to be shown at your local art house theater, it will have to be picked up by a mini-major distributor, such as Lion’s Gate, or New Line.
In order to generate interest from a studio, the film’s producers have been trying to stir up excitement at the grassroots level. “At our website, indoctrinateu.com, people can punch in their zip codes and when they do that, it puts a pin on a Google map. We’ve got thousands and thousands of pins on there now, and over 10,000 localities around the country where people have expressed interest in the film. That’s a bankable asset,” Maloney says. “We can go to distributors and say ‘Look, we haven’t spent a dime on promoting this film yet, and we’ve already had tens of thousands of people sign up saying they’d see this near them if it was shown there.” Browning adds, “The idea is to show the demand for a film like this and show there’s a ready made audience. That’s the hope.”
Maloney believes that his documentary has the potential to be a commercial success and hopes someone in Los Angeles takes notice. “I’ve gotta figure that there’s at least one person in Hollywood who recognizes that there’s a huge potential audience for this, and that if they think like a business person, and not like a political operative, we could very easily get mainstream distribution.”
Failing that, Maloney plans to take his film directly to the people: “We’ve got this database of people who’ve already expressed an interest in seeing the film, and there’s other ways of getting it to them, from DVD sales, to the iTunes movie store. One way or another, people are going to get to see this film. The only question is, ‘Is Hollywood going to demonstrate that they’re really nonpartisan, and do business with folks like us?’”
By Sonny Bunch, assistant editor at THE WEEKLY STANDARD. src
May 18, 2007 by Lance