December 27, 2012

“President Obama, the sequel”

An off-line piece from Clayton Cramer, provided by geoff B, that advocates for conservatives to take a different approach to politics than merely dumping money into GOP coffers:

Going into the election, I thought that it was going to be a pretty tight race, not the blowout or even landslide victory  for Romney that some conservative commentators expected. But I did not expect to see Obama not just win, but win so decisively that the election was over before I went to bed. How did this happen?

First of all; it happened for several reasons: One important reason is that Romney chose to make the campaign about jobs and national bankruptcy, Obama chose to make the campaign about abortion, free contraception, and other social issues. For a lot of Americans, unrestricted access to abortion, requiring employers to pay for contraception of their employees, and requiring states to recognize gay marriage, are more important than trivial little things like having a job, or making sure that the United States does not go bankrupt.

You-are probably scratching your head at this point saying, “Really? Mr, Cramer, do you really think that there are this many Americans who are this short-sighted?” Yes, I am always amazed at how many Americans could not tell you if the national debt is $16,000,000 or 16,000,000,000,000 — or even what the national debt is. Do not even think of asking them to explain what the longterm consequences of the national government continuing to grow the national debt will be.  You might as well ask them to calculate how much time slows down as an object reaches 99% of the speed of light.

These are what are referred to by social scientists as “low information voters” (LIVs).   Do not get me wrong: not every Democrat is a low information voter, nor are Republicans immune to this problem. Many Democrats are actually quite knowledgeable; they are simply prepared to risk national bankruptcy in the current game of budget chicken because Obama looks out for their interests.

It is no coincidence that Obama won eight of the 10 highest income counties in the United States and he won those eight counties by a larger margin than in the nation as a whole. This is no coincidence; when Democrats blather on about evil rich people that are not paying their fair share, this is equivalent to what happens when a pickpocket team approaches-you, and one bumps into you while the other lifts your wallet. It is a distraction, so you don’t realize what is really happening.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of voters out there who do not realize that when it comes to funding, Democrats not only get gobs of money from billionaires and multimillionaires — in some elections they get more than the Republicans get. If you have been following the many scandals involving “green” companies that received federal loan guarantees and then went bankrupt while Obama campaign contributors pocketed the loot you will not be surprised by this. But because there is effectively no coverage of this in the mass media outlets that LIVs rely upon, they believed the “We’re lookin out for you” rhetoric of Obama, and ignored anything that did not fit into this framework.

Okay,  you ask: don’t these LIVs ever see any coverage that would make them doubt Obama’s wonderfulness? I mean, even CBS has seriously covered the Fast & Furious scandal. But unfortunately, it is not enough for there to be the occasional coverage. There needs to be enough to break through the bleating of the sheep from George Orwell’s Animal Farm, “Four legs good, two legs bad.”

Another example: if you see 1,000 .45 ACP cartridge cases lying on the ground at the range, how likely are you to notice two or three .40 S&W cases mixed in with them? If you are looking for the 40 S&W cases, sure, you will find them. But if you are not actively looking, you either will not see them, or your mind will emphasize the similarities, and ignore the differences.

Where do LIVs get their information? Amazingly enough, these are not even the victims of ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, and (increasingly) Fox News. People that watch broadcast television news are actually higher information voters than the LIVs–which should terrify you. LIVs get their news from watching The Daily Show (and thinking it is news, not comedy) or The Colbert Report (ditto), or by watching Entertainment Tonight.

The really intellectual LIVs read Us or People. They do not read newspapers. Even regular readers of the New York Times or the Washington- Post are far better informed than LIVs — and I suspect are more likely to vote for Romney than a LIV.  A far more important information source for LIVs than pseudonews programs is entertainment. You can immediately see how movies about current events might give a LIV the notion that they know something about a subject. I mean, it isn’t like Hollyweird would make movies that denigrate America or misportray terrorists as misunderstood freedom fighters, right?

One of the reasons that I have long been frustrated with how Hollyweird makes movies about history is how often they grossly distort events, sometimes in the interests of drama, but often with a political agenda. If the audience went home after watching a movie like Syriana or a pseudo-documentary like Sicko and actually did some reading, they would realize that they have been given at best a distorted view of the subject, and might actually learn something. But realistically, most movie audiences assume that they have been told the truth, at least in part, and LIVs especially so. Remember they went to have a good time, not to learn something.

If you question a LIV about the subject, many will acknowledge that yes, it’s just a movie, and that does not mean that it portrays the world as it actually is. But LIVs seldom get questioned like this unless some personal experience causes them to doubt the “facts” that they have been presented, they will operate as though. the movie was truth.

It does not help any that movies reach us at an emotional level that often completely subverts our reasoning capabilities. I am sure that many of you saw James Cameron’s Avatar (2009). It was a brilliant imagining of a world far away; it was also a propaganda piece intended to draw parallels to the conquest of the New World. (Since I teach U.S. History, let me emphasize that as tragic as the conquest was, the reality is far more complex and with more moral ambiguity than the propaganda version.)

Many Avatar fans started to experience depression at the realization that they had to return to reality, instead of staying on the beautiful planet of Pandora. Do you suppose that a film that can cause depression might have more dramatic impacts on political beliefs?

What can we do? Spending money on political campaigns, while necessary, is a short-term solution–and as the Romney campaign demonstrated, not even an effective solution. Political campaigns spend all their money over a period of a few months to a year; the popular culture campaign runs 365 days. a year, every year. Political campaigns try to reach LIVs–but the Democrats are more successful at reaching LIVs, because the popular culture has already done the groundwork, promoting certain stereotyped views of gun owners, conservatives, and business.

If you have spent four years being soaked in the idea that capitalism is bad, Republicans are going to legalize rape (as actress Cameron Diaz claimed on Oprah Winfrey’s show in 2004), and anyone who disapproves of gay marriage wants to murder homosexuals, and bring back slavery, then Obama’s ads would be easier. to believe than Romney’s ads. We need to be softening up LIVs by infiltrating our messages into the popular culture every day of every year.

Another problem with political campaigns is that they spend.their money and then have to raise more. And unfortunately, each time they do so, there are usually strings attached. As much as I would like to believe that Republicans raise money from donors who are just looking out for America, I know better. Much of the big money has attached to it, if not literally an obligation to take care of the donor with government money, at least some expectations along those lines. Those corrupting effects damage the brand when it comes to election time, because even high information voters get cynical and start to say, “They’re all the same.” (And unfortunately, the difference between the Democratic and Republican Parties when it comes to corruption is more of degree than of nature.)

On the other, hand, popular culture is a chance to make money. If you make a mildly successful film that promotes “subversive” values (think of Act of Valor, released early in 2012) you will not only earn back your investment, but make it profit, which you can then use to make another movie to influence the LIVs, and make some more money. You might make an extraordinarily successful film because it strikes a chord in the American public, such as The Passion of the Christ (2004), which grossed more than $600 million in theatrical release, and was certainly a major money maker.

I have been trying to raise funding for a movie that I think could be one of those subversive injections into the popular culture. It is about a remarkable incident in American history in which a small group of religious fanatics (as the federal judge called them) decided that the laws of God took precedence over the laws of men–that regardless of the Constitutional rights that one group enjoyed, they were going to break the law, defy federal law enforcement, and rescue John Price, allegedly a runaway slave. It has guns. Lots of guns. It has action. It has a thrilling sequence as the runaways cross the frozen Ohio River on horseback. It has courtroom drama. It has powerful and stirring speeches by among other interesting characters, Charles Langston, the son of a white Virginian and a slave, who was given his freedom by his father and sent to college. It has sneaky legal maneuvering, as the Lorain County, Ohio District Attorney indicts a federal deputy marshal and two private slavecatchers for kidnapping and tries to arrest them in the federal court in the middle of a trial.

It is the sort of movie that will bring in a remarkably diverse crowd, I think: gun rights sorts who will have a chance to see firearms used in a way that was both unlawful and praiseworthy; courageous, morally centered sorts resisting a great evil by a corrupt, Democratic Party dominated judiciary and executive branch; blacks interested in this relatively, unknown but important piece of black history where blacks and whites worked together; liberals out to see the good guys go up against the bad guys; pro-lifers’ who will be encouraged by the moral convictions of those who refuse to allow federal law to get in the way of doing the right thing. And it will cause at least some LIVs to rethink what they “know” about history, and states’ rights, and the Constitution.

Investing money in entertainment that subtly educates and promotes conservative points of view is such an obvious strategy — and yet there is no interest from conservatives with money in pursuing this strategy. (At least, I have not been able to find them.) But you never know: perhaps Obama will lose interest in progressive politics, now that he does not have to win re-election, and learn to play nice with people that think like us. And soon I will get to work in a blimp propelled by flying pigs.

Part of the reason a show like “Firefly” had (and continues to have) such a strong cult following, I believe, is that it was so different in tone and message from so much else put out by traditional Hollywood guild workers.  It was a show with a fiercely libertarian message — and that message, as with the classical liberal / constitutional conservative message — resonates with a people born in a tradition of self-reliance and rugged individualism, and is a welcome escape from daytime yenta-fests or predictable network comedies, which nearly all push the progressive viewpoint, sometimes quite overtly.

Putting money into a conservative / libertarian / classical liberal channel (or two or three), an investment that would include money for development of feature films, new shows, a real conservative news service (like, say, CNS), would over time be a potentially smart and productive means of pushing back against what has been the leftists’ long march through the institutions.  I noted sometime back that we already see a bit of this in shows like “Pawn Stars,” or “Storage Wars,” or “Duck Dynasty” or “Swamp People,” shows that, by production standards, are cheaply made and can have a tremendous influence on the popular culture.

The problem with the idea is that, because conservatives / libertarians / classical liberals tend to be independent thinkers, creating a sustained herd narrative — even for the right reasons — is a difficult proposition.  Which is why the challenge would be to outline a breadth of (natural rights) themes and then position creative work always to hit those themes without seeming forced or hamfisted or preachy.  Show, don’t tell.  Be opposite of the progressives in that very important sense.

Will the channels developed by conservatives (or the TEA Party News channel, etc.) be ridiculed and their shows panned by liberal critics?  Likely so.  But such is the way of the cult show or cult film, anyway.  And it’s time we let it be known that the status quo of Hollywood is the Man, while the new indie outlaw scene is populated by those who truly believe in fierce independence, private property rights, and free-market capitalism.


Posted by Jeff G. @ 9:25am

Comments (44)

  1. hey hold the phone

    time slows down?

  2. there’s no movie or tv show what can make Team R’s out of step social views remotely charming to the unenlightened I don’t think

    our Hollywood friends already glorify gun ownership and killer robots and such… “gangster squad” is the gayest movie title ever btw… but look how even that only goes so far with your average retarded american

    I just don’t see the vision here plus I don’t have much appetite for propaganda usually

    I like hobbits

    I hate kirk cameron

  3. Someone should tell Cramer about

  4. that girls show on the hbo is brilliant and fun and not even remotely subversive

    it’s mostly just “fun things you can do with writing” and I really like to watch it on the tv

  5. Team R’s out of step social views remotely charming


  6. Team R’s out of step social views remotely charming

    Conservatives actual principles or the media’s caricatures of them?

  7. Television is a vast wasteland as Marshall McLuhan said back in the dark ages. I happen to think he was too hasty since there is a lot of fine episodic televison out there now.

    Girls, however is not part of that oeurve.

  8. e.g. Romney is EVIL COLD male who eats babies v a man who donates 20%plus of his money to charity & has a laundry list of personal good deeds — from saving the lives of people to helping a dying child write a will — to his name.

  9. And there is the idea that somehow there are no conservatives in Hollywood

    yet “Friends of Abe” has approx 1800 members.

  10. Darleen, it seems I am the only one in my family who liked Juno. My film major son hated it. My mother hated it.

    Go figure.

  11. oh well yeah with Diablo Cody and Ellen Page on board a conservative realignment is nigh

    but speaking of caricatures how is Juno NOT a quintessentially pro-choice movie? She chose a baby wazzle… but what you see on screen is a *choice*

    Team R does not believe in people making their own choices about baby wazzles

  12. Romney gave mostly to his church he’s the Tom Cruise of mormonism

  13. leigh

    did they say why they hated it?

    I’m curious because there are so many elements in a film and only one or two not hitting the mark can make people hate what is otherwise a good film.

  14. I didn’t think it was a conservative movie. I just thought it was kind of like a John Hughes type movie about angsty teens making gutsy choices and their clueless firends and families.

  15. ^^^^
    See above. They both hate John Hughes movies.

  16. Juno chose adoption

    Which is why the vagina warriors went over the cliff … how DARE someone choose to be a “brood mare.”

    Choosing to be inconvenienced for a few months and thinking of your unborn child first is a very conservative principle.

  17. Okay. I thought it was a human choice.

    Juno was an unconventional girl and it was in keeping with her personality.

  18. Leigh

    Ah! Well, I find John Hughes’ movies fairly charming and entertaining, so there’s that. :-)

    I’m blessed/cursed with really good memory of my childhood/teen years. Gutsy, angsty & clueless are pretty good descriptors of most people’s coming-to-adulthood

  19. she chose to let Murphy Brown adopt her baby wazzle to be specificker

  20. Juno was an unconventional girl and it was in keeping with her personality.

    But isn’t that the subliminal? When everyone just accepts that scrape-and-flush is the conventional thing to do, going with giving your unborn child an actual future is unconventional (and maybe, then, cool?)

  21. I heart John Hughes movies and I think he belongs in the Joss Whedon camp of redefining and transcending the young adult entertainment expectations of their respective moments

  22. I don’t know that it was meant to be a deep kind of a movie. I thought it was charming and I liked it.

    The adoptive husband (name escapes me) was kind of a creepy douchebag. I’m not sure if he was putting the moves on Juno or not when they were dancing and he was telling her he was leaving his wife. It certainly seemed like it.

    There are a tremendous number of young girls who do carry their babies to term. Mostly they raise them themselves which is kind of selfish, but it’s not my decision to make. Adoption takes ‘nads since the mother takes crap off her friends and family many times for not keeping the kid since “All babies need is love”. Sure.

  23. The adoptive husband (name escapes me) was kind of a creepy douchebag. I’m not sure if he was putting the moves on Juno or not when they were dancing and he was telling her he was leaving his wife. It certainly seemed like it.

    It did seem the most contrived part of the movie … like someone said “oh we need some more DRAMA so let’s have the adoptive parents break up!”

    Yeah, adoption keeps getting a bad rap, yet I know of lots of successful stories. And they seem to be more success when there is some limited contact between birth mom and adoption parents.

  24. btw leigh

    I do NOT think a story written/filmed specifically made as a morality tale will find a wide audience. A great story with good principles that naturally arise will find that audience …

    who may then say “I don’t know that it was meant to be a deep kind of a movie.” ;-)

    For instance, there was one throw-away line in the last Batman movie that stuck to me … Catwoman is standing amidst a trashed home, picks up a picture of a family and says “This used to be someone’s home” and her companion gloats “Now it’s everyone’s home.”


  25. I watch “Teenmom 2” on MTV (don’t judge me, man) and the girls on there have all kept their kids with mixed success. The original crew of “Teenmom” had a couple who chose to put their daughter up for adoption and have some contact with her, but do not live in the same town as the adoptive parents. They are the only couple who have adopted out their child in many seasons of that show which is a spin off of “Sixteen and Pregnant”.

    Anyway, this couple are still together. They have graduated from high school, are going to college and plan to marry in the future. In short, they are getting on with their lives and staying in touch with the child through the adoptive parents’ letters and pictures. The other couples who kept their child(ren ( There are several sets of twins)) are no longer together and are not remotely as mature as the couple who adopted out.

  26. a baby wazzle? there goes my life there goes my future

  27. So much to discuss in there and all that happens is another thread about abortion, gay marriage must be next up.

    The Left has done their work in this over a long time frame. More than 40 years, probably close to a hundred. This is because it is hard to change the emotional reactions (which is what they have been doing long term) of people who are grown. To do that requires immersing them in an environment where they are rewarded for right-feeling and punished for wrong-feeling and keep them there for a year or more. We used to call this brainwashing but not so much anymore.

    This is now done by the colleges with their “diversity” and “political correctness” regimes. It seems to work but also seems to take more than 4 years to get it set into minds like concrete. Or it could be that those who don’t like, won’t go along with, the PC select themselves out before grad school.

    The ones that are most vulnerable to having their way of feeling/viewing things in the world shaped to certain ends are children. They are designed to absorb the ways of those they grow-up around as the normal way of the world. Having control of education is the main way they, the Left, get their world view assimilated. Entertainment then takes over for the time not spent in school.

    There is no way that classical liberals-conservatives can undo this overnight. That will/would take years. We must however make the effort. There is one advantage we have. People have to live in reality most of the time. When what you are “selling,” as the way to react in the world to things happening, is a way that meshes with how the world actually works and with what is the basic nature of humans then it is a much easier “sell” than that which clashes with reality and humanity on all levels.

  28. teamr should look to drive a wedge between the cultural left and the political left and best way i can think of is by explaining to young people how they’re been raped and enslaved by greedy codgers and boomers

    it will become self-evident so very very soon

    Team R should get out in front of it

  29. Team R i mean

  30. Team R should look to take advice from people who know what they’re talking about.

  31. Happy, that was pretty much Mitt Romney’s platform and he lost.

    If people are willing to play in traffic until they get run over by the bus on its way to the fiscal cliff, there isn’t much we can do about that now.

  32. every time a nasty worthless old person says they’re just getting out what they paid in they should be brutally bitch-slapped with an appendage severed from one of their frozened russian contemporaries

  33. Careful now. You’ll be a nasty worthless old person yourself one day.

  34. I just don’t see the vision here plus I don’t have much appetite for propaganda usually

    It wouldn’t be propaganda. More like its antidote.

  35. yeah but iwon’t get to feed at the trough like those piggy oldsters you see at the nasty indian casinos

  36. the antitode to propaganda would be for conservatives to cancel cable but they won’t cause of they’re shameless and unthinking NFL whores, largely

  37. Time will tell. Never say never granny always said.

  38. In the hands of a skillful indoctrinator, the average student not only thinks what the indoctrinator wants him to think . . . but is altogether positive that he has arrived at his position by independent intellectual exertion. This man is outraged by the suggestion that he is the flesh-and-blood tribute to the success of his indoctrinators.”
    – William F. Buckley Jr., Up From Liberalism (1959)

  39. About a third of the way through the essay, and I dispute the notion that any network, CBS included, has “seriously covered” the illegal gunrunning conspiracy known as “Fast and Furious,” the efforts of that CBS reporterette notwithstanding.

    That said, Clayton Cramer is one of the Good Guys –took out Michael Bellesiles. So I guess you could say that he was Breitbart before Breitbart.

  40. Part of the reason a show like “Firefly” had (and continues to have) such a strong cult following, I believe, is that it was so different in tone and message from so much else put out by traditional Hollywood guild workers. It was a show with a fiercely libertarian message — and that message, as with the classical liberal / constitutional conservative message — resonates with a people born in a tradition of self-reliance and rugged individualism, and is a welcome escape from daytime yenta-fests or predictable network comedies, which nearly all push the progressive viewpoint, sometimes quite overtly.

    I think the show resonated with classical liberals and constitutional consertives because it was a welcome escape from the predictable proggressive fare, rather than because of any libertarian message, fierce or tame. In fairness though, I have to note that I’ve never seen Firefly, just Serenity (which is a great movie).

    I’m largely persuaded that Whedon thought of the Alliance as conservative and authoritarian rather than as progressive and controlling. That is, to the extent that he thought of the Alliance as anything other than the Sci-Fi part of his Sci-Fi/Western mashup –with a dash of space zombies thrown in for good measure.

  41. Based on Whedon’s comments before the last election, Mal Reynolds would shoot his creator.

  42. geoffb

    The new 2012 Standards speak in generic terms of “civic life in the twenty-first century.” References to a specific American citizenship are rare. “Patriotism” is no longer included in the long list of “civic values.” Loyola University, Baltimore Professor Diana Schaub describes this new tendency as “civics without a country.”

    Good lord.

  43. Loyola University, Baltimore Professor Diana Schaub describes this new tendency as “civics without a country.”

    Also known as cosmopolitanism, which is the rejection of civ-ic values for universalist and utopian ones.

    Yeah, that’ll end well.

  44. Why would you want to teach people about something that isn’t real? How does acquiring expectations of living in a non existent culture, a sham, benefit the student? It makes them feel like outsiders who can’t find their own kind in the world around them and encourages them look on their own society as illegitimate and hostile driving them into counter culture cliques.

    OOoooohhhh! I get it!