Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Subtext
John Hawkins interviews Ben Shapiro on his new book, Primetime Propaganda: The True Hollywood Story of How the Left Took Over Your TV. Read the whole thing; but here's the conclusion:
Why couldn’t we see a Hollywood studio or channel do the same thing with entertainment that Fox has done with news? Why couldn’t we see a channel or a studio that has a slight rightward tilt instead of a big leftward tilt? Wouldn’t that capture a lot of audience that’s being lost?
It absolutely would, but here are a couple of problems. One is that when people watch news, they’re watching news because they’re interested in the political slant on the channel. Rightwing news picks up a lot of audience because a lot of people are dissatisfied with CNN. When people watch TV for entertainment value, the last thing they want is to be hit over the head with politics. That annoys them when they’re hit over the head with politics.
So if you make a conservative television channel, people are not going to tune in because it’s a conservative television channel. What they’re going to do instead is… they’re going to say, “Is it entertaining? Is it good? Is the content something that I would want to watch?” So, what we need is to create programming that’s entertaining first and conservative second. We need to enter the market place not on a self proclaimed conservative channel, but on mainstream television networks by going to places like Proctor and Gamble and places like Johnson and Johnson and getting them to sponsor family friendly programming that’s really good.
This is where conservatives go wrong. Conservatives want to think politically instead of thinking entertainment wise. Liberals always understood that the key here is to make something really entertaining that happens to also be incredibly liberal — whereas conservatives, they take precisely the opposite approach. I mean, David Zucker’s a friend and I don’t want to talk badly about American Carol, but that was a movie that took the opposite approach and it didn’t work.
Right. We need to be more like Avatar.
Right, exactly, exactly. I mean the most conservative movies ever made are things like “Braveheart,” “The Dark Knight.” I mean if you think in terms of TV shows, “24″ is a show that a lot of liberals liked — not because it was conservative, but because it was exciting and it had a good plot.
Perhaps because of the original blacklist, in the era when film was still a mass media, leftwing Hollywood writers became masters by the late 1950s and '60s at burying the themes of their stories in the subtext of their films, so that their stories could work on multiple levels. They were profitable, entertaining dramas first, agitprop second. (Of course this was back when Hollywood still produced dramas to be watched by grownups, before they concentrated on films where the plot was an excuse to simply blow stuff up, first via miniatures, and then CGI, but that's a whole 'nother blog post.) Leftwing Hollywood forgot those writing skills when it came to release all of their anti-Iraq war movies in the mid-naughts, causing the American public to simply ignore them. Budding conservative filmmakers and TV producers need to learn this lesson as well, and those who cross over to join with those of us already one with the dark side of The Force, such as David Zucker and his surprisingly painful American Carol need to remember it, if they hope to succeed on a mass scale.