I’ve followed Ben Shapiro’s career since he was a teenager, and I’m not the only one. Ann Coulter is one of his many fans. She told me, “Ben is amazing, brilliant, hardworking—and very clever to take notes on his UCLA professors and then write a best-selling book about them at age 16. I always tell college Republicans to be like Ben Shapiro, except for the going to law school part.”
At age 17, Shapiro became the youngest person ever to become a nationally syndicated columnist. He began UCLA at age 16 and graduated in 2004. He received his JD and graduated from Harvard Law School in 2007.
He has written several best sellers, including Brainwashed: How Universities Indoctrinate America’s Youth, Porn Generation: How Social Liberalism Is Corrupting Our Future and Project President: Bad Hair and Botox on the Road to the White House. His new book, Primetime Propaganda: The True Hollywood Story of How the Left Took Over Your TV has made a splash, with its several interviews that reveal how hostile Hollywood executives are to conservatives. When asked how he was able to get so many interviews with Hollywood heavyweights, Shapiro told FrontPage magazine, “I also told them I was profiling the biggest names in Hollywood over the last 50 years. I assume that many of them bought into that last part—people in Hollywood aren’t exactly known for their humility. They must have assumed that with a name like Shapiro and a Harvard Law credential, there was no need to Google. I would have to be a leftist.”
1. If there was a television channel that only showed one movie over and over, what movie should it be?
SHAPIRO: Can I say the The Lord of the Rings tilogy? It’s three movies, but it’s a cohesive saga, and it’s also the most complete film ever made—great writing, great acting, terrific special effects, epic in scope and content, visually stunning. I have to admit, my sister and I watched one Lord of the Rings movie every Sunday for about six months after they all came out. And amazingly enough, I’m still not burned out.
2. What’s one of your favorite movie quotes?
SHAPIRO: God, I speak in movie quotes all the time. Can’t believe I have to narrow it down here. But here’s a great underrated one, from Rules of Engagement: Major Mark Biggs (Guy Pearce) is questioning Col. Terry Childers (Samuel L. Jackson) about whether Childers violated Marine rules during a firefight.
BIGGS: “There are rules and Marines are sworn to uphold them.”
CHILDERS: “I was not going to stand by and see another Marine die just to live by those f—ing rules.”
And I can’t help but get choked up by Sam in The Two Towers. “There is some good in the world, Mr. Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for.”
3. In A Clockwork Orange, Malcolm McDowell is strapped in with his eyes propped open and forced to watch images until he is “cured.” If you could give President Obama the “Clockwork Orange treatment,” what movie would you make him watch?
SHAPIRO: Spy Kids, just to see him suffer for the way he’s treated our allies and our Constitution. Seriously, though, The Lives of Others. He needs to see what socialism really looks like. That’s the road we’re headed down if we don’t turn this ship around.
4. What pop culture souvenir do you own that people would be surprised to learn that you cherish?
SHAPIRO: I have signed memorabilia from Friends. After Primetime Propaganda, in which I rip Marta Kauffman for her propagandizing, that seems odd. But it’s a great show, and my wife loves it. It just happens to be excellent propaganda.
5. What’s your current “guilty pleasure” non-news television show?
SHAPIRO: Wipeout. I can’t help it, even though I feel like an idiot watching it.
6. What canceled TV show would you put back on the air?
SHAPIRO: Lost. And rewrite the damn ending! But I guess that’s not fair, because it wasn’t really canceled. Over the past few years, V. Would have been nice to see where that was headed. And before that, Firefly. Adam Baldwin is the man.
7. What is your favorite home-cooked meal?
SHAPIRO: My wife is a spectacular Moroccan cook. But she actually makes a tremendous fajita. I have to say, it’s a good thing she’s too busy to cook sometimes, because if she weren’t, I’d have a serious weight issue.
8. What was the first rock concert you ever attended and where did you sit and who went with you?
SHAPIRO: I know this sounds pathetic, but I’ve never been to a rock concert. I’m a classically trained violinist from age 5, so I listen to classical and a bit of jazz (although I do like the Doobie Brothers, Stevie Wonder and some of the 1970s bands like Tower of Power).
9. What books are on your summer reading list?
SHAPIRO: Ann Coulter’s Demonic. Daniel Yergin’s The Prize. Joseph Conrad’s Nostromo. Robert Leckie’s The Wars of America. De Tocqueville’s Democracy in America. Max Beerbohm’s Zuleika Dobson. Churchill’s The Second World War. Jed Rubenfeld’s Freedom and Time. Alan Moore’s Watchmen. Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow (I’ve only tried that one four times, but I will make it through).
10. What’s your quirkiest ringtone?
SHAPIRO: Don’t have one. But if I did, I would make it Howard Dean’s yell. It’s like a cross between Scooby Doo and the Wicked Witch of the West.
11. If Republicans and Democrats had theme songs for 2011 what would they be?
SHAPIRO: Republicans: “Somebody Save Me.” Democrats: “I Wish I Were An Oscar Meyer Wiener”
12. Tell me about the moment you decided to enter the political arena.
SHAPIRO: I was always political. But the moment I really decided to get active was when I was 16. I had just stepped on campus at UCLA, and I picked up a copy of the Daily Bruin. The op/ed page had an article from some idiot comparing Ariel Sharon, then-Prime Minister of Israel, to Adolf Eichmann. I figured at that point I needed to get involved.