What a difference six years can make.
The essay on J.D. Vances'' Hillbilly Elegy was published in 2016, and the narrative was appropriate for famously rich director Ron Howard to adapt. It was an inspirational story about Vances'' journey from a poverty-stricken childhood in rural Ohio to attending Yale. It was an only-in-America narrative that briefly made Vance the toast of some members of Liberal America, although many critics cited it for dangerous rhetoric and misleading conclusions.
Howard directed a 2020 Netflix film starring Gabriel Basso as Vance following Donald Trump''s presidential election in 2016. It received mixed-to-negative reviews.
Vance, a professor of psychology, has recently raised an even more controversial public persona. He is currently running as a Republican for Ohio Senator Rob Portman, and he has adopted a host of controversial positions, even by Republican standards. He now believes that the federal government should take an even greater role in cultural conflicts, claiming that he will not sell his assets.
While the polarizing tactics eventually gave him the Ohio senate seat, his positions and rhetoric have sparked backlash from many mainstream America, including Ron Howard. In a recent interview, the filmmaker said the Vances right-wing populist movement was a key issue for the Senate.
Howard expressed concern about some of his positions and statements. I always believed he was conservative, but [he] regarded me as a very center-right person.
While Howard may not support the move he has made, he still stands by his movie and the apolitical aspects of Vances''s story that he originally brought him to the material.
Howard said of the film that it was based on real events. There was a lot that I personally related to the family dynamics, but also the region, and the sense that I had long been searching for a way to express through a story. It came to Yale and was never meant to suggest that he was headed towards politics.