Roger L. Simon

How Conservatives Can Take Back (Some of) Hollywood for Oscar Time

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If conservatives give up Hollywood, they give up the country. Game over.

It’s Oscar time again and, since I’m one of the half-dozen or so Academy voters to the right of Trotsky (okay, a little exaggeration there, but not much), I am often called upon to write something about it (and give my predictions) for the likes of PJM, National Review or City Journal.

But every time I do, especially here, I get a slew of comments, sometimes dozens, reading to the effect: “I hate Hollywood. I haven’t seen one of their putrid biased movies since a. The Marx Brothers’ Coconuts, b. The Best Years of Our Lives or c. when Rock Hudson and Doris Day were still in the closet.”

Well, good for you, I say. We should all do what we want with our spare time and Lord knows there are better things to do with it than watch banal liberal propaganda. Have a good time playing Chinese checkers or reading Burke — whatever, as they say, floats your boat.

But as you run your personal boycott of Hollywood, remember this. Almost everyone else you know — be it family, friends, business associates and, most especially, your children — is not. They are consuming Hollywood entertainment in mammoth gulps. And politics, as the late Andrew Breitbart said repeatedly (and he was far from the only one), is downstream of culture.

You give up Hollywood and you give up the country. Game over. And as we all know, it’s almost over already. Want that? Well, if you do, you can skip the rest of this article.

So… for those of you that are left… now more than ever is the time for conservatives and libertarians to take back at least some of the entertainment industry. Someone recently told me that Hollywood is like one of those football blowouts with a score of 90 for the liberals and 10 for the conservatives. We have to try to make it at least 70-30 (still a blowout, but there’s a glimmer of hope).

To accomplish that, the first thing that must be done is to stop being or playing the victim. If I had 25 cents for every conservative who complained to me over the last ten years that they were being discriminated against by Hollywood (who isn’t?), I’d have enough to do my own remake of Gone with the Wind now with a resurrected Clark Gable in the lead. Victimology, as Larry Elder has told us countless times, doesn’t work for minorities and it doesn’t work for Hollywood conservatives for similar reasons. It’s just an excuse and waste of time when we should be out doing the work and getting better at what we do, really making change.

That goes for the business community just as much as the creative community. Liberal financiers support the arts but most conservatives have been reluctant. They seem more willing to endow a chair at a think tank for yet another position paper. I have nothing against think tanks or position papers (some of my best friends are, etc….), but this is shortsighted. One terrific film or television series reaches vastly more people and, I would wager, effectuates vastly more change — and it might even make a profit into the bargain (something conservatives, I would think, would applaud) that gives the ability to do more and make a still greater impact.

But it has to be craftily done. That’s the key point. What we do not need is a spate of new movies and television shows that scream CONSERVATIVE. Some have tried that and, I regret to say, the results have not been stellar. I’m not surprised. What people really want is to be entertained, not propagandized. The message should be a subtle byproduct, received and welcomed by the audience. The thing about great and even good art is that it does not just preach to the choir. It preaches to everyone.

Old Hollywood used to do that. The message of most classic Hollywood movies from the glory years was “America is A-okay.” That spread around the world. It could happen again, but we first have to tell it to ourselves, make ourselves believe it.

Hard to accomplish in the current atmosphere? Yes, but it can be done. In fact it was done in this Oscar year. The film I voted for in the nominating process — Lone Survivor — was just such a work. It said American servicemen in Afghanistan were the good guys, were “A-okay.”

Of course, in that current atmosphere I may have been Lone Survivor’s lone voter. It didn’t get nominated. But the people loved it. It’s a hit. There can be more — aimed straight at the middle of America, a hungry, underserved audience. We just need a new industry, new companies, to serve it. They can begin small — indeed they should — so they can grow big.

As for my predictions for this year’s Oscars, I don’t have any. After they started nominating so many films for best picture (what is this year? nine?), it all seemed to be watered down and worthless to me, sort of like grade inflation. I don’t care who wins. It wasn’t an especially good year anyway. Nothing that will really be remembered. For what it’s worth, I thought The Wolf of Wall Street was entertaining. And, yes, 12 Years a Slave is worthy and well made, but I have to agree with the Academy voter who leaked to the trades and made Drudge (no, it wasn’t me, though several asked on Twitter) that the movie wasn’t brave for 2013. It would have been brave for the 1930s. And I did like the acting in Dallas Buyers Club, but I much preferred David O. Russell’s movie last year — Silver Linings Playbook — to American Hustle. That’s about it.

Except for Lone Survivor. That’s the future. I hope.

Also read: 

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