Actress, writer and Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Lena Dunham is the Barack Obama of Hollywood: a mediocrity elevated to icon status because she plausibly represents false ideas that make the left feel virtuous. In Obama’s case, the ideas are about the virtues of wealth redistribution and American non-exceptionalism. With Dunham, the ideas are about sex and feminism. Like Obama, Dunham is not very good at what she does but it doesn’t matter because she does what the left needs her to do so they support her.
The recent season finale of Dunham’s HBO show Girls garnered under 700,000 viewers which, by television standards, is essentially none. And yet if you read articles about her, you’ll find the show repeatedly described as a hit. Why do people describe it as a hit? Because even though it’s not watched by a lot of people, it’s watched by the right people. Who are the right people? The people who describe the show as a hit. There’s a reason this is called the Echo Chamber.
Recently, my friends at Ben Shapiro’s website Truth Revolt did for Miss Dunham what the economy and ISIS have done for Obama. They introduced her to non-leftism, also known as reality. They quoted sections from her recent autobiography Not That Kind of Girl under the descriptive headline “Lena Dunham Describes Sexually Abusing Her Little Sister.” Miss Dunham threatened to sue the site for quoting her verbatim! Then she canceled parts of her book tour. Then she went on a “rage spiral.” Then she jumped up and down three times and went through the floor like Rumpelstiltskin. Okay, that last part is a joke — but only just.
But the point is that the folks at Truth Revolt have recognized the revolting truth: liberty lovers need a cultural echo chamber of our own. It’s not enough to have talented artists and good works. We need a cultural infrastructure building up the good and tearing down the bad and bringing our view of culture to the forefront of the public’s attention. We haven’t got that infrastructure in place yet, but we’re getting there, as the TR-Dunham duke out shows.
I was in Florida much of last week, attending the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s 20th Anniversary Restoration Weekend, a gathering of some of the finest minds and talents in the conservative movement. It’s the Freedom Center and the people in it that fund Truth Revolt. And judging by the warmth, enthusiasm and support we on the TR team received from these key players in the Great Debate about our nation’s future, I came away with the distinct impression that finally — finally! — conservatives are catching on to the importance of the culture.
In the past I used to come to these gatherings and harangue people about the need to utilize new media to fight back against the left-wing slant of Hollywood and the publishing industry. I would make speeches about how we had to let go of the idea that conservative entertainment is synonymous with family-friendly stories with heroic heroes and happy endings. Not that there’s anything wrong with such stories. But if that’s the only vision conservatism has of the world, it will quickly become irrelevant.
After a while, though, I stopped haranguing. For one thing, these last six years have been a sort of political zombie apocalypse with old, dead left-wing ideas coming back to life to devour the living flesh of freedom. I felt that criticizing the good guys was a waste of time when what we needed was to give our full attention to fighting back against the zombies.
But also, when people asked me what non-artists could do to help, I could only answer: support pro-liberty artists; buy our books; see our movies; watch our videos; create cultural think tanks, review venues, awards and so on. Stop worrying whether a given work will convince the other side; first you build a cool and vibrant culture, then they’ll come. People were always sympathetic but unresponsive. The culture was never their top priority. After all, here come the zombies.
But I think the re-election of Barack Obama may have changed all that. The fact Obama got re-elected — despite his rampant anti-Americanism and gross incompetence — finally awakened the right to the fact that another ad buy by Karl Rove won’t change the nation’s wrong direction. How can it when the very foundations of liberty have been eaten away from under us by sixty years of leftist movies, books, college classes and news programs? If people want to win their country back, the long game of culture is the only game in town.
I begin to feel that the lovers of liberty are getting into that game at last. Which is great. Because we’ll win it. We’re better, smarter and faster than the left, and we practice while they sleep. Plus we’re right about what’s good and true and they’re wrong. Once we break their monopoly on the media, they’ll be finished.