Ace and John’s debate over ideology and film reminded me of Jonah Goldberg’s wonderfully counter-intuitive column this week about leaving liberal Hollywood to liberals. His points about the unintended political consequences of “The Wire” and how no amount of global warming propaganda has changed people’s minds are especially true, but his bottom line is this:
There’s a difference between art and propaganda. Outside the art house crowd, liberal agitprop doesn’t sell. … The conservative desire to create a right-wing movie industry is an attempt to mimic a caricature of Hollywood.
Politics never work as a theme. That’s why the Bush-era anti-war films bombed critically and financially. Bush sucks, America’s evil, we’re no better than terrorists, aren’t themes; they’re obnoxious political positions. The right can make the same mistake. America’s awesome, Obama sucks, terrorists are bad, are just as artistically obnoxious.
Much of what made the Golden Age the Golden Age were films that appealed to universal themes of self-sacrifice, selflessness, the wages of sin… Those films are timeless because the themes are timeless. They ennoble the human spirit, but… they’re also politically diverse.
Hollywood’s Golden Age was an era when liberal and conservative filmmakers flourished artistically and made political points.
I agree with Goldberg. We don’t need a conservative movie studio; we need conservatives to get into the current industry, spend a decade learning their craft, and then changing it from the inside.
But theme must come first, always first.