The Arroyo—Breaking the Left's Monopoly on the Arts

In "Crisis in the Arts," my new essay for the David Horowitz Freedom Center (now available at the link), I give an overview of the problems confronting conservatives who want to break the virtual monopoly the left holds on America's culture. Among my observations are these:

For those conservatives with artistic talent and ambition, this is a spectacular moment to take to the barricades.  Big Media is tottering under the assault of new technologies.  With electronic publishing and social media, books can be self-published and self-promoted.  With the new video cameras, professional-looking films can be produced on the cheap and distributed online.  YouTube, iTunes, smart phones, tablets, blogs — all provide opportunities for new kinds of work and new ways for that work to be dispensed.

But to take advantage of this moment, conservatives have to come to grips with a situation that they naturally find uncomfortable:  to wit, we are now the counter-culture.  When it comes to the arts, Radical Leftists are The Man. We need to act like the rebels we now are and stop trying to win the favor of the big studios and publishers and mainstream reviewers.  We need to make stuff.  Good stuff.  And get it out to the audience any way we can.

This is easier said than done, but one genuinely inspiring example has been set by my friend Jeremy Boreing. Jeremy's movie The Arroyo has had theatrical showings in Los Angeles and Texas and is now available on DVD. The good people at Newsmax will help with distribution and the film is scheduled for release on iTunes as well.

Jeremy, along with our mutual friend Bill Whittle, created Declaration Entertainment, a do-it-yourself movie studio that not only produced many of Bill's always-hard-hitting videos, but also solicited the donations of "citizen producers," in hopes of funding a feature film. I remember Bill explaining this idea to me in a restaurant parking lot one night after a dinner with Andrew Breitbart. I said something like, "Uh... good idea, Bill," in a strained, squeaky voice, all the while hoping Bill was sober enough to drive home. Because anyone who knows anything about making movies knows the Declaration idea was absolutely insane. The fact that it actually worked is either testimony to Jeremy's guts and determination — or to the fact that he's like that villain in those Swedish thrillers who doesn't know when he's in pain!

Indeed Declaration has now been folded into BillWhittle.com. But before it closed, it did manage to fund the production of Jeremy's modern western The Arroyo.

The Arroyo is really an amazing accomplishment. Brought into being on a micro budget, it's a feature quality film. And to label it conservative would be limiting and unfair. It's only conservative in the sense that it doesn't lie about its subject. It tells the story of a rancher on the border who gets fed up with the heartless Mexican cartels using illegals to smuggle drugs across his land. Ignored by local law enforcement and deserted by our corrupt and hapless federal government, the hero takes a stand alone — and finds himself in a world of trouble.

Compare this movie to the dishonest propaganda piece Machete, which depicted Americans as bigots deserving of attack by a violent Mexican avenger. The Arroyo doesn't display a trace of bigotry or nativism but only tells an exciting tale while depicting the border situation as, in fact, it is. Its hero (played by singer Kenny Maines) is stalwart but fallible. Its villain is incredibly villainous but real. (Maybe too real. Actor David Armendariz offered to beat up an innocent old man as an audition!) And its situations are, as they say, torn from the headlines. The leftist Machete had no trouble corralling a top-flight cast and getting a wide release, complete with upcoming sequel. Jeremy, on the other hand, basically had to pull The Arroyo out of the ground by main strength. And he did, delivering steady writing, good direction and strong performances from an unknown cast (which, by the way, is extremely difficult to do). There's also a top-notch score by John Campbell and some great songs. It also inspired this beautiful piece by Texas songwriter Cary C. Banks.

Get a copy of The Arroyo. This is a very hopeful sign. More to come.