Conservative Artists Shouldn't Wield Left's Ideological Cudgel in Culture War

Conservative Artists Shouldn't Wield Left's Ideological Cudgel in Culture War

The culture war isn’t something you can win. You can only fight. Even if there were specific victory conditions, they’d be fleeting, at best.

The entertainment media, managed, staffed, and funded by the American left, has a stranglehold on the images we’re exposed to, from news stories to movies to children’s television programming. They’ve politicized, sexualized, and dumbed down almost everything we watch, listen to, or read to appeal to the basest elements of our society.

You can’t put that toothpaste back into the tube. But it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Everything isn’t lost. You just have to fight smarter, not harder. What’s infuriating is that we conservatives have the best product in the world: personal freedom. So how to sell it?

You have to start with something good. You have to entertain, first and foremost. When I wrote The Blessed Man and the Witch, I didn’t set out to write a conservative supernatural thriller about a Biblical apocalypse. It didn’t occur to me to try to convince the reader of anything. I set out to write a compelling story, something that I would have wanted to read myself.

In a more general sense, I created a realistic framework for societal collapse, accelerated by an outside factor: the supernatural. Angels, demons, and the people caught in the middle.

What do Lions for Lambs, In the Valley of Elah, and Rendition have in common? They’re unsubtle. Outside of explicitly political films like Fahrenheit 9/11, nobody goes to the movies to have a political stance rammed down his throat, even if he agrees with the message. If your message gets in the way of your movie entertaining the widest audience possible, it needs to be cut.

What it all boils down to is this: show, don’t tell. It’s a basic rule of writing, but you have to have the basics down to succeed.

If I’m a burglar looking to break into your house, what’s going to frighten me more: an immaculate lawn and a fence with a sign on it saying Beware of the Dog, or torn-up grass, chewed-up rawhide dog bones, and a huge water dish by the hose in the back yard?

Conservative content creators have to do more showing in their stories and less telling. A positive representation of conservative ideas, done well, can resonate. But it has to be natural. It just has to happen. Because when you try, even a little bit, you’re trying too hard. And the moment you reach too far or try a little too hard, you spoil all the hard work you’ve already done building an audience.

Do you want to sell to the few people who are already disposed toward buying, or do you want to sell to everyone?

Conservatives in entertainment media are greatly outnumbered, which means that we have to be smarter in how we work. Think of it this way: the American left controls academia, entertainment media, and the federal government, and they still don’t win every election.

Doesn’t that tell you that despite their very best efforts, there’s something about left-wing philosophy that’s fundamentally at odds with how the average American citizen wants to live his life? Show that. Be subtle. The American public doesn’t want to be preached to by progressives or conservatives.

Focus on entertaining. Focus on quality. Everything follows from that.


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