Over at Ordinary Times I wrote a marathon piece on party affiliation in television and movies, citing Trumwill’s Law:

Trumwill’s (still evolving) First Law of Television Republicans is that Republicans exist in popular entertainment largely to enhance the liberal worldview. They do this by being out-and-out villains, inept foils, turncoats, or “Good” Republicans who spend an inordinate amount of time as a tool against “Bad” Republicans. The law is sometimes broken – particularly in the area of comedy, and also sometimes where actual politics are irrelevant – but it’s true a remarkable percentage of the time. It is particularly true when dealing with inherently political stories (stories with politicians or that deal largely with political issues).

I’m not intending to bring up the perennial argument about whether “television and movies” are liberal or not. By focusing primarily on inherently political stories, I am hoping to avoid that because I think there is less disagreement on that. Most of the disagreement is why, whether it’s because of some insidious Hollywood agenda or because capitalism and/or good stories demand it or something in between. I tend to think it is mostly (but not entirely) something in between. Namely, that when an overwhelming portion of the decision-makers lean in a particular direction, it inherently finds its way into the product whether it’s intended or not. I don’t think it’s a whole lot easier for mostly white, male, liberal talent (writers, producers, decision-makers) to separate the “liberal” from their work than it is the “white” or “male.”

Near the close, I make the following observation:

Even setting aside some of the Hollywood barriers I believe would stand in the way of [a strongly conservative] project, it would require talent to write it and produce it, and conservatives have done a pretty lousy job of cultivating that talent. The primary culprits in this lopsidedness are conservatives themselves, for either not recognizing its importance or failing to act on it. Until or unless that changes, I don’t see much in the way of “progress” for my friends on the right and all the conservative railing in the world won’t change that. And I’d argue that outside attempts to pressure Hollywood by carping and complaining won’t do much more than nudge to superficial compromise that ultimately compromises the product.

Recently, David Marcus wrote The Five Principals For The Rising Counterculture, which I thought was misguided for multiple reasons. One of which was this:

But the conservative counter-culture should not try to mirror this network of wealth and ideology in bringing more conservative art to life. There is a place for donated resources, in developing content creators and establishing infrastructure. But the works themselves should compete without the overbearing influence of these funds—not only because free markets are conservative, but because they produce the best products. As the Progressive arts entrench their narrative and play to smaller and smaller groups of sycophants, conservative artists should be focused on work that pays for itself. This doesn’t mean work that makes the most money is the best, it means the work that attracts the most participation is. Participation can always be monetized. In popular work we will find our strongest messages.

I’d argue that they need a minor league before they can try to play in the big leagues, and minor leagues are cost-losing endeavors. The Idaho Falls Chukars and Casper Ghosts don’t turn a profit, but are subsidized for the development of players for the Kansas City Royals and Colorado Rockies. Even if a lot of the subsidized art will never make it to wider audiences, it can and should be used to cultivate talent. And, if done wisely, it can bypass the need for an immediate buck, which for the right tends to be exactly the sort of “preaching to the choir” that Marcus is worried about. In other words, the Kochs need to help bankroll a George Mason University film school, with the idea of making market-friendly film. The point won’t be the immediate making of films that will change the world, but fostering filmmakers who are interested in making such movies in the future.

But make that’s what he means when it talks about donations and such having their place. I just see that as something that isn’t being done on any serious level. But Marcus and I might find agreement in a certain wariness that a GMU Film Institute might fall victim to some of the same problems that conservative think tanks have had, where the fear of stepping out of line and losing funding is too great and the actual brainwork atrophies. But the market-based alternative of Fox News and news radio, has also not succeeded along lines that have helped conservatism*.

* – Both have their place. The right wouldn’t be what it is today without finding and gathering on the abandoned AM frequencies, and Fox News was innovating and helpful. Eventually, though, it became clear that what helped their bottom line and what helped the movement were two different things. And capitalism is such that when interest diverge, they will understandably go where the money takes them.

Category: Theater

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5 Responses to Yes, Conservatives Should Subsidize Art

  1. Peter says:

    Some politically based bias in entertainment may be driven by money than by ideology. Steve Sailer has suggested that what looks like blatant racism in the portrayals of criminals on Law & Order (and probably by extension on other police shows) is simply a matter of chasing ratings. Audiences aren’t particularly interested in watching a long procession of non-Icy criminals, as that is too much like real life.
    In general, it’s also my impression that conservatives can laugh at themselves when liberals cannot. That of course makes them a safer target.

    • trumwill says:

      I almost went into that on the OT post. It’s one of the reasons I think that if conservatism makes its way into television, the best route is through comedy. You can throw in some self-deprecation to take the edge off.

      I actually thought that the first season of Alpha House did have a laughing-at-themselves character, played by Cynthia Nixon, who was the embodiment of an archetype of shrill, humorless, self-righteous liberalism. It became clear by the end, though, that she was supposed to be the straight-up truth-teller. She didn’t appear in the second season.

  2. superdestroyer says:

    Why would anyone who wants to go into film/television want to work in the minor leagues so that conservative talent can possibly be developed and do something in some undefined future.

    Wouldn’t it just be easier for anyone who wants to be successful while working in the movies/television/media to adjust their political views to match the job market.

    Isn’t this the same reason that 95% of Ivy Leaguers are liberal Democrats: that is the group that controls jobs in Washington, Wall Street, and Big Law?

    • trumwill says:

      Well, they could be sympathetic to conservatism. It can also be a niche. A way to actually get stuff made. If you’re sympathetic to the politics, and want to have something to be able to show off, and confident in your abilities to prove yourself, it seems like it might actually be a better path than moving to Hollywood and bussing tables.

      The other part of the purpose would be able to attract people who have interest in such things, but feel like there isn’t a place for them in Hollywood.

      Of course, I come at this with the belief that Hollywood isn’t dead-set against making conservative things. They mostly just (a) have a higher standard of proof before they’ll invest in it, and (b) don’t have the personnel to either recognize worthwhile material or produce it.

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