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The Film Critic Who Thinks He's A Right-Wing Pundit

The Media Research Center gives Christian Toto all the space he wants to attack actors for having non-right-wing opinions, bash movies he hasn't seen (or haven't even been made yet) and to fret that comedians don't tell enough Biden jokes.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 5/1/2024

Christian Toto

Christian Toto is a film critic who thinks he's a right-wing pundit -- and the Media Research Center is giving him space to indulge that. ConWebWatch has caught him complaining about a film about early abortion rights activists, whining about cartoon shows being too black, having a fit of Brian Stelter Derangement Syndrome, cheering Bill Maher and Elon Musk for ranting about the "woke mind virus" (whatever that is), trying to exempt "Bosom Buddies" from right-wing culture wars against transgender people and drag queens, and suggesting that Hunter Biden should be killed. As a right-wing pundit, Toto is compelled to spout right-wing talking points -- the chief one these days being labeling everything that doesn't neatly fit in his highly biased worldview as" woke". He rushed to hang the "woke" label on the new Indiana Jones movie in a May 27 column -- never mind that he had yet to see the movie:
Social media hasn’t been kind to “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” despite no one having seen the fifth film in the franchise.

It’s woke, users cried, citing early snippets, test screening rumors and other minutiae. Co-star Phoebe Waller-Bridge of “Fleabag” fame is the new Indy, they cried, supplanting Harrison Ford’s beloved hero to appease Hollywood’s female empowerment mandate.

Except no one had actually seen the finished film to confirm those rumors, and director James Mangold indirectly refuted the film’s replacement theory.

That changed this week.

The sequel’s Cannes Film Festival premiere allowed select film critics to screen the movie, slated for a June 30 release. And the early notices are less than kind.

And what purportedly makes the movie "woke"? It sets up someone who isn't a white male and not as studly-looking as Harrison Ford to take over the franchise. No, seriously, that's it. Toto was so shook up by this development that it declared it a "fear":

Variety confirms what many suspected about the belated sequel – it’s a vehicle for Disney, Inc. to replace Ford’s Indy with Waller-Bridge’s heroine.


Others feared Waller-Bridge’s character would be Hollywood’s latest Mary Sue figure — a flawless heroine lacking the shades of gray that make heroes pop off the screen. Think both Rey and Rose Tico from the recent “Star Wars” sequels.

Here’s The Hollywood Reporter confirming those fears, too.


Jones may be riding off into the sunset, but the reviews suggest his replacement has already been found. Now, will audiences embrace Indy’s goddaughter, or will she become the latest example of a woke figure alienating the masses.

Toto needs to talk with a mental health professional if feels so threatened by someone who isn't a white male being an action hero.

Toto spent his July 8 column gloating that the film is reportedly unlikely to make back its production and marketing costs (which even he admits were overly high), going on to rant that "elite Hollywood news outlets leave out critical reasons for the film’s failure. Again" -- which is to say that the film is "woke" because it sets up someone who isn't a white male to take over the franchise:

The film endured reshoots during the production process, which isn’t abnormal in La La Land, so it’s possible that baton-passing ending got nixed in the end.

Team Disney could have handled those rumors better. Instead, director James Mangold attacked “trolls” for spreading misinformation.

It’s Marketing 101. Don’t insult your audience. The “Ghostbusters” crew learned that lesson the hard way.

Those “Destiny” rumors registered with both conservatives and die-hard Indy fans. Early reviews, even from liberal outlets like the BBC, shared how Waller-Bridge’s character dominates the action at Indy’s expense.

“Destiny” turns Ford’s character into a “Damsel in Distress” waiting for Helena to rescue him during another sequence. She even decks Indy with one punch at a critical moment in the film.

Did reporters mention these worries in their post-game analysis, which traveled at the speed of social media for months on end? Of course not.

Did Toto mention that Ford is pushing 80, so it makes little sense to force him to do stunts and other action-hero things the way he did 40 years ago? Of course not.

Toto never explained how, exactly, not having a white male take over the franchise is "woke" (let alone his definition of "woke" in general) or why it offends him and the "Red State USA" he purports to be speaking for. Instead, he closed with another rant:

You are 100% correct, we are sick of this woke trash.

Maybe now Disney will clean out Lucasfilm and get people in there with some fresh ideas, they’ve ruined Star Wars and Indy. It’ll be too bad they’re going to leave the place a mess.

Toto thinks Star Wars got "ruined" by "woke trash" because "Disney turned one of film’s most iconic heroes, Luke Skywalker, into a burned-out hermit who rebelled against The Force in 'The Last Jedi.'" He's clearly not a fan of storytelling that conflicts with his narrow right-wing worldview -- a close-mindedness that would seem to make him a bad movie reviewer.

Right-wing opinionating

The MRC has also been giving Toto space to indulge his right-wing activism. began his July 29 column by complaining that right-leaning TV host Bill Maher isn't fully buying into his preferred right-wing narratives:

Bill Maher makes a living mocking political elites, but he has major gaps in his Beltway knowledge.

For example, he admitted last year that he still believes President Donald Trump colluded with Russia to steal the 2016 election. That’s despite the Mueller Report finding no evidence of such collusion and major investigations concluding the same.

We know even more today how Hillary Clinton concocted the faux scandal and various government bodies doubled down on the lies.

Maher didn’t know the truth, in part, because he likely ingests a steady diet of Mainstream Media misinformation.

Of course, it's not a "faux scandal" that the 2016 Trump campaign met with Russian operatives dozens of times, or that then-campaign manager Paul Manafort gave internal polling data to another Russian operative, or that Russia rooted for Trump to win in 2016. But those facts are inconvenient to Toto's narrative, so he won't bring them up. Anyway, this was all just a setup for Toto to hype how Maher was "schooled" by right-wing influencer Jordan Peterson about "Canadian fascism":

Maher broached the subject with this week’s “Club Random” guest, Canadian professor and Daily Wire contributor Jordan Peterson. Maher, knowing his guest’s native roots, brought up a “dumb” quote from Trudeau about the truckers who protested the country’s pandemic policies.

Maher paraphrased Trudeau’s quote with shock.

“We have a vibrant democracy here in Canada and we value protests… but when you use protests to object to the policies of the government I think you’re going too far,” Maher said.

“What the f*** is protest for except to object to the policies of the government,” Maher added, laughing.

Canadian truckers rebelled against the nation’s draconian lockdown measures which impacted their livelihoods and, as we learned later, had little actual science behind them.

Neither Peterson nor Toto mentioned that the fact that, as one analysis noted, most Canadians supported the country's measures to combat the spread of COVID, and that the trucker protest was little more than a right-wing temper tantrum in which protesters were calling for civil war. When the truckers occupied the streets of the capital, Ottawa, area residents were threatened or assaulted, and fences were torn down around the capital's hallowed Tomb of the Unknown Soldier so protesters could dance on it.

Toto hyped how Peterson stated that the Canadian government "seized the bank accounts of 200 Canadians." But the accounts were not "seized"; they were frozen because they were used to help fund the increasingly unruly protests. Most of those accounts were unfrozen after the protest ended. We doubt that Toto would consider government efforts to quell rioting after the death of George Floyd to be "fascism."

Toto continued uncriticially quoting Jordan:

“I can’t imagine a politician doing anything more inappropriate than that ... No trial. No real investigation,” Peterson said before adding how Trudeau even blamed MAGA Republicans for allegedly funding the protests.

“It’s completely preposterous,” Peterson noted. “Why would MAGA Republicans foment dissent in Ottawa? Even if they knew where it was, which they don’t, why would they?”

Maher laughed through those comments.

In fact, American right-wingers did help fund the Canadian protests, and high-profile right-wing U.S. politicians like Ron DeSantis and Ken Paxton aligned themselves with them. But, again, those are inconvenient facts that don't mesh with Toto's preferred narrative, so they were ignored.

Whatever happened to all people sacrificing together to work toward a common good, such as trying to reduce spread of a deadly disease? Toto didn't say anything about that either.

Right-wing humor

Christian Toto started his Sept. 30 column by complaining that comedians don't make nasty jokes about President Biden nearly enough for his biased taste:

Mainstream comics leave countless jokes on the table.

Just consider the Biden administration, for starters. The material practically writes itself, from the president’s near-daily short circuits to VP Kamala Harris’ word salad speeches.

Ideology keeps getting in the way.

The same holds for the woke mindset. Comedians ignore how the Left labels every third word as racist, problematic or downright offensive.

Think “peanut gallery,” “hooligan,” “American,” “immigrant,” “grandfather” and “submit.” So many hate crimes in just one paragraph, no?

Toto, of course, is demanding that comedians inject right-wing ideology into their acts. He then praised comedian Bill Burr for how he allegedly "skewered woke platitudes with wit and wisdom," though the example he provided showed none of this; it simply mocked the #MeToo movement. This led to Toto praising Burr's new film, "Old Dads":

The Oct 20 release, starring, directed and co-written by Burr, follows three men who embraced fatherhood later in life. They run headfirst into a Gen Z culture they neither understand or appreciate.

The film co-stars two underrated stars, Bobby Cannavale and Bokeem Woodbine as Burr’s fellow “Dads.”

The trailer leans hard into the generational divide between the titular fathers and their peers. When a younger dad tells Burr’s character, Jack, to treat his child’s injury with Neosporin, not dirt, the older Dad snaps.

“Why don’t you go on Twitter and share this story where you’re the hero,” Burr says. He’s wrong … and he still has a point about virtue signaling.

Again, Toto highlighted a so-called joke that isn't terribly funny. Indeed, reviews indicate that this is the problem with the entire film; one reviewer stated that "Old Dads" is "a meandering, unfunny assault on PC culture that would seem perfectly in place in the 1990s alongside 'Illiberal Education' by Dinesh D’Souza and the rantings of Pat Buchanan. It’s so dated there’s even a mention of Halliburton." Another reviewer noted about the character Burr plays:

Yet there’s a monkey wrench sitting in the middle of the movie. And that’s Jack’s rageaholic personality. Forget the over-controlled, virtue-signaling era. Jack’s anger really is over-the-top and inappropriate, and would be during any era. So even if you welcome a satire of the new corporate-approved hypersensitivity, since Jack’s rage is a more glaring problem than any of that it undercuts the film’s satirical bite. I realize that rage has long been Bill Burr’s calling card, but if he had made Jack a more restrained character, quietly infuriated by everything around him, “Old Dads” would have been funnier and scored more points.

Yet Toto wants you to believe that Burr's hate is a feature, not a bug, and the movie is better than it appears to be:

Just don’t expect “Old Dads” to skewer the woke characters alone, or for Jack to cling to all of his old ways. Burr is too smart a storyteller to turn his film into a sermon preaching to the anti-woke choir.

The fact that he’s mocking the cultural movement in the first place is consequential and overdue.

Looks like Toto is the one for whom ideology keeps getting in the way.

Toto continued to portray hateful right-wing comedy as somehow brilliant and cutting-edge in his Oct. 7 column, which began with this amazingly stupid claim:

“Lenny Bruce would be impossible today.”

So says Svetlana Mintcheva, the director of programs at the National Coalition Against Censorship. Mintcheva shares that observation in a compelling new docu-short called “Crossing the Line in Comedy.”

The video hails from the Free to Choose Network, a group established “to build popular support for personal, economic and political freedom.”

But there is no need for a Lenny Bruce today because there already has been one. And Toto, had he been around in the 1960s, would undoubtedly be among those reactionaries who relentlessly hounded Bruce for his profane anti-establishment humor.

The video Toto is promoting is from the Free to Choose Network, which complains that people are offended by certain comedians, which the implication that they are right-wing comedians who want to make fun of liberals. Toto himself emphasized that narrative:

The video arrives at a chilling time in western culture. The woke revolution has scared many people into silence, fearing the “wrong” opinion could cost them their jobs or make them social pariahs.

Just ask J.K. Rowling. Or Dave Chappelle.

Comedians are routinely censored by Big Tech platforms under dubious circumstances. Others face professional blowback for uttering the “wrong” jokes targeting the “wrong” demographics. Sometimes fellow comedians are the ones trying to shut them down.

But Rowling isn't a comedian -- she is a rich author who spews hate at transgender people. Chappelle's anti-transgender "humor" simply wasn't funny enough to overcome its offensive nature, and Toto offered no evidence otherwise. (Note that Toto's two poster people for violating "woke" standards involve people who intensely hate transgender people; he offered no explanation for why transgender people are acceptable targets.) Interestingly, we haven't seen Toto defend Chappelle when, a couple weeks later, when he made comments critical of Israel during one standup appearance that caused at least one member of the audience to leave.

Toto went on to huff that "Groups like PEN America railed against so-called 'book bans,' ignoring the obvious issues with sharing pornographic books in schools nationwide." His evidence here is a link to the right-wing Independent Women's Forum, which dishonestly portrays all allegedly offensive content as "pornography" and even denies that books are being "banned" -- thus further showing that he would have been among the moral prude who censored and hounded Lenny Bruce. Meanwhile, Florida schools are removing dictionaries and encyclopedias from schools ("for further review," they claim) out of fear of purportedly offensive content. Toto is probably not going to demand that comedians make fun of that. And despite all that, Toto made another counterfactual claim:

Free speech is now a partisan issue.

Conservatives, by and large, support more expression and less guard rails on speech. Progressives, many beholden to militant Leftists, demand censorship to suppress “hate speech” or “misinformation.” And, since the Left controls the U.S. government, the media, academia and Hollywood, it has a unique ability to suppress speech as it sees fit.

That's not really true. Conservatives don't want to be called out on the hate and lies they like to peddle, so they frame any criticism of them as "censorship" -- that's the entire premise behind the MRC's attacks on social media moderation. Further, inadvertently showing how far-right he has moved, Toto illustrated this point by embedding a tweet by Lara Logan, the disgraced former "60 Minutes" correspondent who has moved even farther right than him.

Toto closed by quoting Mintcheva saying, "'I'm offended' has become an argument for 'shut up.'" He won't mention that his fellow right-wingers are doing exactly that in an attempt to shut up anything they don't like.

Celebrity right-wingers

Despite the fact that right-wingers regularly lecture their followers to ignore celebrities talking about politics, Christian Toto gave a platform to one in his Nov. 11 column:

No one held Gavin Newsom’s feet to the fire quite like Adam Carolla did a decade ago.

The podcaster grilled the future governor repeatedly during their 2013 exchange, turning every Newsom comment on its head in real time.

And no one will ever repeat the feat. Why?

Gov. Newsom knows better than to sit behind “The Adam Carolla Show” microphones again. He’d rather wear a red MAGA hat and play 18 holes with the 45th president.

Plus, no mainstream reporter will do what Carolla did. The news media supports both Newsom and his fellow Democrats.

None of that stopped Carolla from slamming Newsom for his revisionist history over the recent pandemic.

Carolla stopped by “The Megyn Kelly Show” for a fiery hour-plus conversation. The two explored Hamas’ defenders, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ BootGate and more.

Toto didn’t mention that the interview — done when Newsom was lieutenant governor of California and was promoting a new book — also included Carolla going on a racially tinged tirade arguing that there was something “flawed” about blacks and Latinos because many don’t have checking accounts or ATM access, going on to blame the problem on the usual right-wing shibboleth of single-parent households. Instead, Toto touted how Carolla pushed old right-wing grievances about pandemic lockdowns, cheering that Carolla called Newsom “a sociopathic, tyrannical dictator and no one should listen to a God-d*** word this idiot says.”

This isn’t the first time Toto has given Carolla a platform to spout his right-wing views; his Sept. 2 column cheered how Carolla “blew the whistle on pandemic hysteria from the jump” and joined with Dr. Drew — a prolific COVID misinformer and anti-vaxxer — to manufacture a conspiracy theory that climate change will be promoted the same way. Toto further huffed, “The only remaining question for the pair? Why does the public follow along, sheep-like, while the government and media corrupt the culture?”

But even a celebrity repeating right-wing talking points gets attacked if there’s not total and absolute fealty to the narrative. In his Nov. 25 column, Toto praised actress Juliana Marguiles for speaking out against anti-Semitism in a USA Today op-ed, yet attacked her anyway because she also said “I jump at the chance to march in Black Lives Matter protests”:

Full stop.

Let’s set aside how the “mostly peaceful” BLM protests caused billions in property damage.

Does Margulies realize how some Black Lives Matter groups responded to the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks?


Can’t Margulies and one of the largest newspapers in the country see why name-checking BLM in this article is a profoundly bad idea?

Another explanation? Neither Margulies nor the USA Today editors knew about BLM’s ghastly affection for Hamas. The BLM Chicago image generated some media attention, but a Google News search for those key words show most mainstream news organizations ignored the shocking news story.

It’s inexcusable either way.
Related articles on ConWebWatch:

James Hirsen's Moral Projection, Part 2

Toto seems not to understand that there’s no overarching Black Lives Matter organization — it’s a decentralized movement — that issues unified messaging, let alone one that ordered protesters cause property damage, as he appears to insinuate. Indeed, he offered no evidence that any person convicted of property damage was acting on BLM orders. Toto is simply repeating lazy right-wing talking points instead of doing any sort of research to see if they have any basis in fact. One might call that inexcusable.

Toto did find a celebrity who was fully on message the following week, however, devoting his Dec. 2 column to cheering actress Mayim Bialik for criticizing women’s organizations for being silent on alleged atrocities being committed in the war between Israel and Hamas.

What any of this has to do with Toto’s supposed main job of reviewing movies is anyone’s guess, other than him desperately trying to parlay that arguably lightweight endeavor into becoming a right-wing pundit.

"Star Wars" meltdown

When the newly named director of a new "Star Wars" film announced she would be bringing a female perspective to the series, Toto attacked her in his Jan. 6 column:

Disney learned the very hard way what conservatives have been warning us for years.

Go woke. Go broke. 

The Mouse House’s horrendous 2023 is finally over, but an attempt to revitalize its prized IP already has a whiff of woke to it.

It comes courtesy of “Star Wars: New Jedi Order” director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy.


Obaid-Chinoy of “Ms. Marvel” fame just suggested the first “Star Wars” film since 2019’s “Rise of Skywalker” may actually start production soon. “Soon” is subjective, of course. As of November, Ridley had yet to read a finished script of the film, to be penned by “Peaky Blinders” alum Stephen Knight.

The director teased the project during a New Year’s Eve interview on the far-Left CNN.

“I’m very thrilled about the project because I feel what we’re about to create is something very special. And we’re in 2024 now, and it’s about time that we had a woman come forward to shape a story in a galaxy far, far away.”

CNN did its part to push the director’s Identity Politics bona fides, describing Obaid-Chinoy as the first woman and first person of color to direct a “Star Wars” film.

That’s CNN being CNN, which ignored female directors like Bryce Dallas Howard and Deborah Chow. Both have directed episodes of small-screen “Star Wars” projects.

Toto’s bizarre insistence that CNN is “far-Left” indicates just how far-right he is. He went on to whine that the “Star Wars” universe had female heroes that didn’t need a female director to breathe life into them:

Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia played an outsized role in the first three “Star Wars” films. More recently, actress Felicity Jones headlined “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” and small-screen “Star Wars” projects include “Ahsoka,” led by Rosario Dawson, and other strong female heroes (Gina Carano’s Cara Dune).

The director’s quote recalls Jennifer Lawrence lamenting the dearth of female action heroes while ignoring pioneers like Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), Princess Leia and Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton).

The bigger issue is clear.

Once again, a “Star Wars” project may be defined by its woke bona fides, not the power of the story or premise. Ridley’s Rey is already working at a disadvantage. The character never became a beloved part of the “Star Wars” franchise like the key figures from the original trilogy.

She’s often dismissed as a “Mary Sue,” a near-perfect figure who doesn’t even work hard to achieve her Jedi powers.

We don’t even know if “New Jedi Order” will even make it into production given Disney’s recent “Star Wars” woes.

One thing remains clear.

New year, same woke messaging from a member of the Mouse House.

Never mind that Toto is attacking a movie that doesn’t even exist, solely because the director is not a right-winger like him. And he didn’t explain what, exactly, makes any of this “woke.”

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