A Sunday night topic to kick around for a while came to mind reading this short post at the Corner by John Miller. Let your right brain run free, he advises, speaking of popular culture in general and the tendency for most forms of creative entertainment media to be dominated by liberal artists. His suggestion for all of you seeking media from more conservative thinkers is a visit to Liberty Island, a home for movies, music, books, comics and all manner of entertainment created by like minded souls. (I was just browsing over there today, by the way, and it’s probably worth your time to take a look. Quite a bit of good stuff.)
But getting back to the subject at hand, the author begins the discussion with two basic assumptions. One is that conservatives have largely surrendered the turf of pop culture to liberals. There are exceptions, but looking around Hollywood – just as a starting point – it’s easy to see how anyone would assume this. His second point, quoting Andrew Breitbart, is to say that politics is downstream from culture.
Is it really? I understand the temptation to immediately jump to established aphorisms about life imitating art and subliminal messaging, but I’ve never been all that accepting of the premise. I should qualify that statement up front by noting that a fiction writer who tends to be more liberal by nature will wind up producing a project which embraces general themes along those lines. The hero will tend to be more progressive and embrace goals of which the Left would approve and the villains may tend to run more along the lines of evil, capitalist fat cats. I’m immediately reminded of the movie Avatar and wonder what the plot would be like if it had been developed entirely by conservatives. I’m guessing the miners from Earth would be securing a product which would save civilization rather than just making them wealthy. The giant blue indigenous dragon riders would be split into two groups, one of which wanted to destroy the miners and another who wanted to raise their people up from savagery into an advanced technological society, so they help out Sam Worthington’s character.
Of course, if it had been written that way nobody in Hollywood would ever greenlight the project in the first place.
But is politics truly downstream from pop culture? I’ve never really had any difficulty separating entertainment from real world policy discussions, nor do I find myself getting offended if the story being told has a progressive theme as long as it’s well made. When I put down the book, turn off the television or walk out of the theater I leave that behind. But perhaps that’s not the same experience for everyone.
Assuming the author is correct, why the dearth of conservative driven content? In an ironic twist, psychologists tend to define Right Brain people as the ones who are creative, intuitive and artistic. Left Brain people are the ones noted for logic, analysis and linear thinking. So are politically Right leaning (conservative) people less able to go the creative route and produce popular culture entertainment by their very nature? Or is it a lack of opportunity because the field is flooded with political Lefties and their Right Side Brains and they control the access? See… I find both of those answers unsatisfying. I know plenty of conservatives who are remarkably creative and could churn out all manner of fantasies fit for the stage or screen. And as to a perceived lack of resources, aren’t the conservatives the ones who tend to wind up making all the money anyway? What’s stopping them from simply challenging Hollywood on their own terms?
Anyhow, there’s your subject for Sunday evening. Why aren’t there more huge conservative endeavors in pop culture? How did that market slip so thoroughly into the other column? And while you’re pondering that, check out Liberty Island and tell me if you find anything you like.