“Conservatives don’t want to pay attention to the culture. This is why you keep losing,” said Breitbart News’s Senior Editor-at-Large Rebecca Mansour on Friday’s edition of SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Tonight.
“There are a lot of folks saying, ‘Why are you harping on Hollywood?’” said Mansour.
“Whoever controls the culture,” she explained, “you control the future, you control the dialogue. Conservatives and Republicans, unless you get a handle on the culture, unless you start to be involved in the culture, unless you start to create [and] nurture artists of your own, you’re never going to get anywhere. You’re just going to be standing athwart history shouting, ‘Stop!’ instead of moving history in your direction.”
Mansour used Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin as an historical example of the power of a work of popular culture to dramatically affect political change.
Stowe’s novel awakened the broader public to the evil of slavery, not the political activities of the anti-slavery abolitionist movement, explained Mansour:
What was the thing that finally animated the North during the 1850s and 1860s to get behind the Abolitionist Movement? A majority of citizens in the North during the pre-Civil War era were not abolitionists. The abolitionists were kind of kooky people off to the fringe. They were religious people. They were viewed very much the way the pro-life movement is viewed now, ‘Oh, those extremist religious people.’ … The majority of the country just didn’t care [about slavery].
The thing that finally animated it in the minds of the people was when this little lady by the name of Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote a bestselling book called Uncle Tom’s Cabin. And when all the folks — the ladies and the gentlemen in the North — began to read this book about what slavery is like in the South — her novelization of it — it made them realize how horrible slavery is. The human element of it — it put it in perspective for them. This work of literature suddenly made it real; so much so, that years later when President Abraham Lincoln was introduced to Harriet Beecher Stowe, he said, “Oh, you’re the little lady that wrote the book that started the great war.”
President Lincoln was acknowledging that that book lit a fire in the public, and that fire led to a war that eventually ended that terrible disgusting stain on our character — our original sin as a nation — thank God. It was a work of art, of literature, that did it.
Patrick Courrielche, Mansour’s guest co-host, described the medium of the novel as “the movie of its time,” given the prominence of literature in nineteenth century popular culture. He also stressed the importance of conservatives being engaged in Hollywood and pop culture and the huge megaphone it now offers solely to Democrats and leftwing causes.
Los Angeles “is a political town,” said Courrielche. “This is actually the West Coast’s Washington, D.C. It is the Democratic Party’s West Coast headquarters. Every one of these award shows, late night television shows, they are pep rallies for their audience, their followers, and their voters. We need to watch it, and we need to play a part in the creative aspect of things if we want to be a part of that conversation and also win the hearts and minds of the public.”
“That’s what Andrew Breitbart was all about,” said Mansour. “He was always saying, ‘Politics is downstream from culture.’ And if you don’t have a handle on this, you’ll never win. And he was absolutely correct.”
Mansour concluded on a plea for conservatives to “send your best and brightest” to “journalism school to make them broadcasters” and to Hollywood “to be filmmakers”:
You need to send your best and brightest to Hollywood and encourage them to become artists. For years, we would say, “Oh, send your best and brightest — if you’re a Christian — send them into ministry” — which, God love you, I’m all for vocations. Or you’d say, “Send your best and brightest to Washington, D.C. to be a politician.” No, no, no.
Send your best and brightest to journalism school to make them broadcasters, and then send your best and brightest [to] Hollywood [and] to film schools. Teach them how to be filmmakers. Teach them how to get into the culture that way. That’s how you influence. That’s how you change, and that’s how you have a positive effect.
Breitbart News Tonight airs Monday through Friday on SiriusXM’s Patriot channel 125 from 9:00 p.m. to midnight Eastern (6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Pacific).
Follow Robert Kraychik on Twitter @rkraychik.