In recent weeks, I have read a number of Big Hollywood articles concerning Hollywood’s and the media’s treatment of the September 11th attacks in the years since they occurred. In particular, there have been some interesting and provocative articles about the historical treatment of the attacks and the movies created so far. Prior to these articles, there was another questioning the quality of “conservative” films and why/if they should be supported by the conservative community, as though most artists on our side of the aisle shouldn’t be supported.
While I definitely respect all these points of view, I have to question why many of us are questioning Hollywood instead of questioning ourselves. And what we should be asking ourselves is why many of us complain so much about Hollywood’s output but at the same time fail to support the burgeoning artists, musicians, writers and filmmakers in our own community?
For full disclosure: yes, I am a conservative, and yes, I am a filmmaker trying to get my art out to the greater world. For the life of me, I have never understood why we monetarily and spiritually support artists, studios and media companies while simultaneously berating them for what they offer us. If someone delivers crummy pizza that smells weird, tastes worse and gets me sick, would I still call the same pizza place every time? No. So, why do we do the same when making entertainment or artistic purchase choices?
In film, you don’t get to shoot on 35 mm with big-name actors, commissioned scripts, or the best D.P.s using someone else’s money unless you have a track record and have proven you can make money. To become a great artist, you need time to develop and hone your craft. You need to be able to make a living in your particular medium to justify working in the arts and to gain that 24/7 time needed to create and edit better and better material. Having a paying audience is the only way to make that happen. Not all “conservative” films or shows will be great and not all will be good, but all should be supported by the people most predisposed to enjoy the material, fellow conservatives. Still, it seems to me that the right’s expectations are too high when art comes from one of their own.
It’s like being the guy or gal who struggles to make it as a local artist. The hometown crowd is much tougher on you, and their expectations of success are so high that the bar they set just to earn a “You know, it’s alright” is almost impossible to surmount. Are “conservative” audiences really saying that until you start winning Oscars, Emmys, Tonys, and Grammys, you haven’t achieved that much? It seems that way for both new artists as well as some of the more established ones.
I paid money to see An American Carol in a theater. Atlas Shrugged, too. They weren’t films that met the unbelievably high expectations of their audiences. So what? They were not bad films. Hello? They were trying to do a helluva lot with limited budgets and the expectations that came with being the first “conservative” films in their genres. Almost no film could have met the expectations those two had to deal with. No new artistic movement occurs overnight, and these films were steps in the right direction that deserved our money.
How do you expect to see more artists, musicians, filmmakers, etc., who think like you do if you aren’t willing to support the ones you already have among you? Can you really expect those who are successful and established to risk everything by deciding to “come out of the closet” politically? God bless Gary Sinise, Patricia Heaton, Jon Voight, Angie Harmon and the other stars who have come out, gotten involved and led from the front. They are an inspiration, but fortunately for them, they had established resumés to help them weather the natural blacklisting faced by entertainment-industry conservatives.
If you don’t support conservative artists’ material, especially when they are putting their livelihoods, careers and more on the line, then don’t pine for “better” content, and don’t condemn them for not outnumbering the artists you can’t stand. At the end of the day, you, the audience, are a vital part of Hollywood too. Your time and money determines what future projects are financed, so keep in mind that we can only make what we want if you signify to our investors that those projects will be profitable.