This Friday, the film Won’t Back Down will premiere in theaters nationwide. Starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis, the movie is about a group of parents who feud with what are portrayed as uncaring unionized teachers. The parents, led by Gyllenhaal, succeed in enacting a “parent trigger,” a policy tool advocated for by corporate front group ALEC, that allows for a public school to be turned into to a privately-managed charter school.
But the film was never meant to be an honest portrayal of America’s education system. It is being produced and promoted by Walden Media, an entertainment company owned by right-wing billionaire Phil Anschutz. Here are a few facts you should know about Anschutz and his long history of advocacy for the far-right.
- He’s Anti-Gay:Anschutz spent $10,000 in 1992 to promote Colorado’s Proposition 2, which let private property owners discriminate against gays and lesbians. He also gave $150,000 to the Mission America Foundation, which condemns homosexuality as “deviance.”
- He’s Anti-Science: In 2003, Anschutz’s foundation gave $70,000 to the Discovery Institute, which attacks evolutionary theory and proclaims that “Darwinism is false.”
- He’s Anti-Union: His foundation has donated at least $210,000 to the National Right To Work Legal Defense Foundation, which works to undermine labor rights.
- He Owns Some Of The Most Influential Right-Wing Media Outlets: Anschutz owns both The Washington Examiner and The Weekly Standard, two of the most prominent right-wing tabloids and magazines that regularly demonize progressives and their beliefs.
When Americans see advertisements and other promotional material for Won’t Back Down, they should know that this isn’t just another feel-good Maggie Gyllenhaal movie. It’s a highly ideological film that has been produced and promoted by one of America’s most powerful right-wing billionaires.
UPDATE: The film is getting bashed by critics, so Michelle Rhee’s organization StudentsFirst is writing astroturf reviews. Click here to read our story about this astroturf pushback.