It seems pop culture maven Jonah Goldberg is not particularly fond of the idea that conservatives should try to take over Hollywood, as if that were really possible:
“We need to buy a movie studio.”
Amid the umpteen conferences, panels, meetings and informal conversations in the wake of the presidential election, this idea has been a near constant among conservatives who feel like the country is slipping through their fingers. Mitt Romney and the Republican National Committee combined raised just more than $1 billion, and all we got are these lousy T-shirts. Since conservatives are losing the culture, goes the argument, which in turn leads to losing at politics, maybe that money could be better spent on producing some cultural ammo of our own?
It’s a bad idea.
The reason: Hollywood is not in control of its own destiny:
Hollywood produces culture, but it also takes its orders from it.
In addition, he notes, what Hollywood produces is not uniformly liberal:
The point isn’t that Hollywood has no influence. It’s just that its influence is agonizingly hard to predict or dismiss as unthinkingly liberal.
This is so, he argues, because of the free market, and Americans have the power to decide for themselves whether they want to watch liberal propaganda or great stories, and whether to watch great stories that affirm conservative and sometimes even religious values. Responding to the culture talk that has emanated from the right these last few months, Goldberg concludes as follows:
The conservative desire to create a right-wing movie industry is an attempt to mimic a caricature of Hollywood. Any such effort would be a waste of money that would make the Romney campaign seem like a great investment.
With all due respect, I think Goldberg has completely missed the point—at least my point as articulated over the years, a point of view which is shared by many who see a “culture war” as I do. Conservatism reclaiming the culture has nothing to do with building a Hollywood propaganda machine. Conservative propaganda “art” is no better than liberal propaganda “art.” They both miss the point of art.
What Goldberg fails to address, at least in this short piece, is that the worldview of the artist will surely influence the art he or she makes. This is too obvious to argue. Yes, liberals will make movies that will occasionally affirm traditional values (or pander to them), but nobody has claimed liberals are unable to do this. Even so, however, in a Hollywood dominated by secular progressives the non-propaganda value stream will reflect their worldview to some considerable extent.
We know unalloyed liberalism doesn’t sell, just as the president has had to lie, scaremonger, and whitewash his true community-organizer Marxist roots. Similarly, liberal movie-makers want to make money and thus have no choice but to make movies and TV shows that on some level appeal to the plebeians. But if we look at Hollywood in the main, what values and attitudes and worldview do we find everywhere we look? Yes, that is a rhetorical question. Just today I saw a piece at Big Hollywood about last night’s episode of NCIS: LA:
Last night’s episode of CBS’ NCIS: Los Angeles offered a veritable smorgasbord of liberal tropes–Tea Party types portrayed as terrorists, private healthcare insurance companies slammed and a potpourri of anti-capitalist themes.
Surprise, surprise! And these blatant propaganda exercises are by no means the worst of it. These are easily isolated and ridiculed. It is the more the subtle worldview messages that go out hour after hour, day after day, show after show, movie after movie, page after page, that have such a huge impact on the mindset, values, and beliefs of the average American citizen. Combine this with the (awful) education system in which most Americans spend their formative years (and which the Obama administration wants to extend to preschool), and a media and journalism establishment that is positively hostile to conservative values, and what do you get? A Community Organizer in Chief, a welfare state that grows and grows, and liberties increasingly assaulted by a government that will well-intention us to destruction.
If conservatives are going to reclaim American culture and start to push back against the current liberal hegemony, it is going to take generations. No conservative Hollywood movie studio propaganda machine is going to make any difference in the short run. Cultures don’t change that way, and cultural change take time, lots of time. Even if a conservative gazillionaire bought a studio, where would find the necessary complement of conservative screenwriters, producers, directors, and actors? There aren’t nearly enough qualified ones to populate a film studio and enable the endeavor to turn a profit.
What would be far wiser would be for this gazillionaire to buy or start a studio for the express purpose of training and mentoring a young generation of aspiring right-of-center screenwriters, producers, directors, and actors so that increasingly over the years they would infuse conservative values into the American popular culture. A sort of Leadership Institute for cinema. It would be expensive, yes, but it would work. And then, and only then, Hollywood would no longer be a liberal ghetto where a single, insular worldview infuses everything.