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Sunday, November 18, 2012

The importance of Hollywood: Trickle down politics

As a Christian and/or conservative it's pretty easy to agree with the whole "country is going downhill" sentiment.  More of the country rejects foundational morality.  More of the country is losing its worth ethic.  Kids are growing up not really knowing the difference between right and wrong.  Victimhood  is a common practice.  This isn't even to mention our economy or our ever slipping competitiveness on the global scale.

While there may be many things to point at, in my opinion, they are all just results of something further upstream:  Hollywood.  By Hollywood, I mean the movie, tv, and entertainment industry.  I've previously written about the profound influence the media has on our lives, but what seems to be largely ignored by conservatives and Christians is that even the media is downstream of Hollywood.  It's been said that art inspires minds.  That's exactly what the entertainment industry (part of "the arts")  does.  They inspire minds.  The social stream goes something like this:

Entertainment/Arts > Culture  > Politics

What's done in the entertainment industry heavily influences culture which in turn influences someone's political views.  Therefore, if we were to place  liberal ideology at the heart of America's problems, we have to trace how that ideology has become further and further ingrained into our culture.   Where did it come from?  Largely from Hollywood and also the media.   Some may say "oh, that's just the natural progression of our society", to which I whole heartedly disagree.  A society that's become less productive, less educated, more selfish sounds more like regression to me.  A society's cultural shift is based on the that culture's biggest influence.   Up until the Renaissance, religion was by and large the biggest influence on culture but then the philosophers of that period gained prominence which then culture's influence became a confluence of the two.  Our country was born out of this type cultural influence, thankfully before Marx and his ilk became popular in Europe.

Yet, with the advent of widespread communication (radio and TV), another influence started to emerge:  entertainment.  Whereas in previous centuries, entertainment was perhaps on occasional treat or enjoyed exclusively by the upper echelons of a society, our technological advances were not only making entertainment more readily available, but also making life easy enough such that a person had more time to spend on entertainment.

But why is entertainment so influencing?  The answer is simple:  It opens people up to a wider world that they normally would not have any access to.  Here's a small example:  Have you ever fought in a war?  Have you ever fired a weapon in combat?  Chances are, the answer is no (which it is for me too).  Yet, how many out there believe they know what war is like or what it'd be like to be in combat?  Probably alot.  But, if we've never been in combat, let alone fought in a war at all, how are we able to draw a conclusion on what those are like?  Entertainment.  War movies.  Video games.   Movies like Saving Private Ryan and Platoon and games like Call of Duty have shaped the perception of war and combat for those who haven't experienced it first hand.  So in other words, entertainment can  fill in experiential voids within a person.

Another, more damaging example:  Why do many people believe Christianity is oppressive and full of proselytizing fanatic hypocritical racist bigots?  Chances are it's because TV shows and movies portray Christians in this way far more than they do any other way. While I readily admit there are those types out there within Christianity's ranks, I'll also say that a.) those type of people are everywhere - even in the so-called "tolerant" liberal circles and b.) those type of people are the vast minority.  But, because of Hollywood, the negative minority is portrayed as the norm for Christians.

And this is where the importance of Hollywood reveals itself.  Much like how the media can shape our perceptions, hollywood is shaping our culture.  Entertainment is the dominant culture shaping force.  Which isn't bad in itself if there was true proportional representation of our population, but that's not how it is.  Hollywood, much like the media, is dominated by leftists.  And they're not very tolerant of conservatives.  In fact, many conservatives in hollywood hide their political beliefs for fear of getting black listed in the industry. Left wingers are quite intolerant of right wingers (oh, the irony).  So with a stranglehold on the force shaping our culture, they're able to affect virtually everything down stream, which includes culture and then politics.  And those in Hollywood know those, hence George Clooney's rather smug academy award acceptance speech where he pretty much credited Hollywood for every major social advancement this country's ever made since the 1930's.

The point to be made here is that as conservatives, we ignore the influence of Hollywood at our own continuing peril.  Trying to change a person's political views that has been indoctrinated in liberalism via culture is an uphill, or upstream rather, battle because you're going up against such a common, ubiquitous influence that's a part of everyone's life.  While the battle can be won, it'll definitely be hard fought since you'll have to keep fighting against the cultural current.

So what to do? Many conservatives simply turn away from Hollywood as they don't want to deal with the leftist influence peddling. They'll renounce it and shun it.  But, as I've been saying, I think that's a mistake.  Hollywood, and entertainment, itself isn't the problem.  It's just a tool, so to speak.  It's those who dominate it that are the issue.  And the only way to combat that is to support conservatives in Hollywood as well as encourage more with such values to be a part of the industry.  There are definitely those with conservative and Christian values out there with plenty of talent that can make truly entertaining works that deliver the right message.

And it doesn't have to be preachy.  In fact, it shouldn't be preachy.  Just look how leftism today is injected into movies and TV shows.  While there is some that is bludgeonly obvious, many of it is subtle.  It's that subtlety that's needed.  A show that tells an entertaining story while championing conservative values.  A loving character who's a devout Christian, but doesn't go around whacking people over the head with a Bible.  It's possible.  Not only is it possible, it's absolutely needed in order to get our country back on the right track.

You change the culture, you change the politics.  You change the entertainment, you change the culture.