For fifty years, likeminded right-wingers have gathered in our nations capital to share ideas and inspirations at CPAC. Every year, the conference promises patriotism-inducing speeches from the conservative movement’s brightest and most revered individuals, policy focused panels, and countless opportunities to network.
One panel in particular really caught my attention this year: “Not All Quiet on the Western Front,” which focused on conservatives in Hollywood. The panel consisted of John Sullivan, Daniel Lusko, Dr. James Higgins, Fred Thompson, and Gerald Molen.
The five men discussed a film they worked on together. The film, Persecuted, tells the story of an overreaching government that is attempting to silence religious freedom. Hits a little close to home, doesn’t it?
The audience was given the opportunity to watch the preview for the movie. I found myself actually wanting to see it, and I think a lot of people felt the same way: it looked suspenseful, frightening, and full of passion. That is, if the audience actually gets the chance to see it at all. In order for the film to reach people, five hundred tickets must be pre-purchased per city.
Ideally, the movie should earn a spot in every major theatre across the country, but the truth is that the money just isn’t there for conservative films. “Conservatives don’t have the resources Hollywood does,” Sullivan admitted, a notion that was echoed in statements he made at a similar panel during last years CPAC.He informed that year’s audience that liberals outspend conservatives in the film industry by $4 billion a year.
At last year’s panel, Sullivan quoted the late Andrew Breitbart: “If you can’t sell freedom and liberty, you suck.” In other words, what we are trying to sell is an inherently sellable message. It’s a message people intrinsically want to hear, no sane person would actually favor tyranny over freedom. But in order to actually sell that message, we must package it well. There’s not a problem with our message. Rather, the problem lays with our messenger–or lack there of. If nobody is selling our message, nobody is going to buy it.
Whether we like to admit it or not, pop culture dictates political culture–especially when it comes to young people, a demographic the political right struggles with. Young people take many of their cues from what is popular. Their thoughts and opinions are often dictated by the beliefs of those they admire. So we need to give them someone on the right to admire. Give them a character to look up to, a role model who saves the day but does so while being undeniably cool.
If we can actually package the conservative message well, the tides of culture will begin to change.
Television is no different than film in the sense that liberalism dominates. But amongst the avalanche of left wing propaganda, there is some hope. During the panel, it was noted that the show Pawn Stars has more viewers than Glee. So does Duck Dynasty.
This shows have enjoyed widespread success despite the fact that they prominently feature conservatives and Christians. This hasn’t repelled viewers as many on the left projected, but instead has drawn them in. The abundance of Duck Dynasty apparel, books, and even garden gnomes seems to be evidence that the relationship between conservative values and pop culture is not dead.
A lot of people would like to write off the success of the show, saying people only watch it to laugh at the family members and gawk at their abnormal way of life. But is it really all that different? There might be a few more guns than some families own, and a lot more camouflage than the average family wears, but it’s quite clear that this crew of unlikely stars genuinely love and enjoy each others company. They bicker like any family in America, they worry about their kids learning to drive, and they worry about their jobs and they worry about how they are going to look at their high school reunions.
So what is it that makes them so appealing to Americans and so repulsive to the left? Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that they close each show giving thanks to God. Pop culture is a haven of people who believe they are the best, most beautiful, most talented individuals on the planet. That idealized view of oneself doesn’t resonate with the average American, but the everyday struggles and triumphs of the Robertson family does. As soon as Hollywood and the leftists realize this, they will begin to squirm. It’s the same reason you could hear a pin drop at the Academy Awards when Matthew McConaughey credited God–not humans–for his success.
Despite these hopeful prospects, we still have a money problem. As Sullivan pointed out, a change in culture through film or television cannot be done without money. People are not going to get the chance to see Persecuted and ponder its message if it doesn’t even make it to a theater near them. The same goes for the next major conservative TV sensation. So why do wealthy Republican donors only donate to politicians or organizations that finance them?
We need young, creative types who are not afraid to dabble in the arts and tell good stories in bold ways. So why are our bright young minds interning predominantly in think tanks and senatorial offices, allowing the left to continue monopolizing a platform that reaches millions of people everyday? Where are the conservative people who can make interesting, intense, funny, entertaining, and beautiful films and television shows that are rooted in truth?
Pop culture is not going to change itself. In our battle to win over the hearts and minds of Americans, the movie and television industries will be an invaluable tool. We need innovators who will tell stories that bring glory to freedom and hope to this nation. We need entertainment that contradicts the belief that liberalism is ideal.
Andrew Breitbart was right. People will happily indulge in the promises of liberty if only we can do those promises justice. America is hungry for it something better. Who is going to feed her?