Unsung.

Now there’s an adjective we don’t see much anymore. These days
nobody writes about absentminded choirmasters who forget to perform one
of the scheduled hymns. That sort of thing probably hasn’t been
chronicled since the time of Barchester and Anthony Trollope. We rarely
hear unsung used in its literal sense, no matter how many great old
songs languish in a sad state of total neglect.
What we’re looking at here, though, is the word’s philosophical
usage, itself all-too-rare, as in “unsung hero.” The Merriam-Webster
online Dictionary defines unsung as “not given attention and praise
deserved for doing good things." Synonyms from the Oxford Unabridged
Dictionary include unacknowledged, uncelebrated, unacclaimed,
unapplauded, unhailed, unheralded, neglected, unrecognized, overlooked,
and forgotten.
As a film industry professional (screenwriter and one time director–so far), as
well as a lifelong movie fan and sometime critic, I am fully aware of
the irritation, resentment, anger and downright despair conservatives
feel when confronted by the unrelenting left-wing perspective of the
American entertainment industry. Many of us don’t know or have
completely forgotten that one of the things that made the Golden Age of
Hollywood so golden is that the Hollywood of the 1930s through 1950s was
on many levels conservative, patriotic, Judeo-Christian, traditional,
anti-socialist, anti-adultery, pro-family, pro-marriage, pro-life,
pro-capitalist, respectful of business as a positive endeavor, and–in
the case of many top stars, producers, executives and
directors–Republican in terms of party affiliation.
Friends suspected that the great directors Victor Fleming (GONE WITH
THE WIND, THE WIZARD OF OZ) and Sam Wood (KINGS ROW, starring Ronald
Reagan) raised their blood pressure and died at a prematurely young age
largely because of their multi-hour screaming fits about FDR’s 90%
income tax rate for top earners. Sometimes, apparently, self-interest
can be fatal, especially if accompanied by seething anger and a sense of
complete impotence. A good health lesson for us all: forsake wrath.
Anger needs to be channeled into calm and constructive behavior.
A certain amount of the old movie industry’s overt conservatism, of
course–though not as much as liberal film historians would have us
believe–sprang out of business decisions intended to prop up corporate
profits, the most important such decision being the creation of the
Motion Picture Production Code in 1930 (enforced industry wide beginning
in July, 1934), designed to undercut local city and state censorship boards.
One of my running arguments with liberal friends over the years has
always been that despite its pettiness and countless absurdities the
Code had many positive effects, especially in forcing film artists to
make dramatic and comedic points obliquely through the power of
suggestion. Rhett sweeping Scarlett up in his arms and carrying her into
the dark at the top of the stairs, to name only one example, is much
more powerful–and sexy–than the sickening vulgarity and explicitness of
the present.
Beyond forgotten Hollywood history, what even more of us don’t
realize is that there is a conservative revival taking place in present
day film and television. That’s correct, there is a conservative
resurgence, and it’s going on right now.
Why don’t more of us know about all this conservative film activity
from the past and in the present? That’s easy. Most of us never even
hear about such works. The fault lies deep in the bitter hearts of a
critical establishment which is as left-wing, intolerant and downright
tyrannical as any of our other American cultural institutions. Ideas
deemed politically incorrect are being suppressed by the mainstream
media, as usual, and a lot of fine filmmakers could use our support,
whether you consume their products in theaters, on DVD, by internet
streaming, or via broadcast, cable and satellite television. Even more
importantly, from the viewer’s perspective, it’s both encouraging and
downright enjoyable to watch films and television shows that celebrate
our worldview and beliefs instead of tearing them down.
My purpose in more specific essays to come, God willing, will be to
recommend films conservatives will enjoy. These discussions will
encompass Hollywood’s great conservative past, certainly, but I’m
particularly interested in drawing attention to recent films and TV
shows. These will include not only films by conservatives but also a few
by honest liberals who out of some misbegotten sense of art, realism,
and personal integrity somehow transcend their prejudices to create
works that wind up strangely dramatizing and reinforcing a conservative,
center-right perspective.
For example, you may be astonished to learn that the most brutally
honest and emotionally powerful cinematic examination of the modern
Democratic Party, in all its horror and fathomless deceit in the ongoing
conflict between the Evil Party and the Stupid Party (aka the GOP), is
to be found in a searing recent political drama starring and directed
by–get ready for it–none other than the notoriously liberal George
Clooney, who is certainly no dummy, especially as a director. I consider
this film a masterpiece and plan to write about it soon.
In the meantime, as a reward for interested readers, not to mention
an opportunity for a bit of crass self-promotion, the first reader to
identify and email me [[email protected]] the title of
George’s film will receive a free copy of my historical novel The Second
Thanksgiving in your preferred ebook format, Kindle or epub. [To learn
more about the book, please click on the Amazon box at the bottom of
this page.] The next ten people to email me the Clooney film’s title
will be put on a list to receive a free ebook of my next big novel upon
publication. This book is a love story that takes place during a single
24 hour period, February 14, 2003, during the run up to Operation Iraqi
Freedom. The work is going through a meticulous final polish at present,
so there is no pub date yet, but you’ll receive your kindle or epub
copy as soon as available. Hopefully, by that point,
douglaslloydmcintosh.com will be a real website instead of merely an
email address. (Sigh.)
My little essays on individual films and filmmakers will begin soon.
For anyone who’d like such a recommendation now, check out screenwriter
and novelist Andrew Klavan’s piece in City Journal, "House of Cards is
not a Conservative show–except when it is." The money quote: "House
of Cards does pose a more realistic threat to leftists, however: their
40-year monopoly on artistic political statements–and their tacit
blacklist of anyone who tries to make opposing statements–may finally
be coming to an end."
For now I’ll close with a little historical perspective.
The complete domination of the American film and television
industries by the Left is a reality acknowledged by anyone who has been
paying the slightest bit of attention. Except, of course, for those who
carry it out. For the most part the individuals who exercise this power
live in a state of denial, especially when it comes to that tacit
blacklist in hiring that Mr. Klavan is talking about. These powerful men
and women either won’t talk about such matters in public or honestly
believe that conservative ideas are so inherently stupid, hateful,
ignorant, insane, racist, homophobic, misogynistic and downright
dangerous that they obviously must be suppressed for the good of
humanity. One could not even hold such views, these folks believe, if he
or she weren’t either completely unintelligent or inherently evil. Thus
liberals are the world’s staunchest and most impassioned defenders of
freedom of speech–except when it comes to anyone who disagrees with
them. Ironically men and women who pride themselves on being courageous
non-conformists invariably prove to be the most ruthless enforcers of
rigid conformity.
For any non-industry civilian who wishes to understand how and why
all this works, I recommend Ben Shapiro’s brilliant and enlightening
book about the television business, Prime Time Propaganda: The True
Hollywood Story of How the Left Took Over Your TV
.
The historical process Mr. Shapiro describes applies equally to
film, music, journalism and legacy book publishing. Almost without
exception, the executives, producers and writers Mr. Shapiro interviews
are intelligent, talented, witty, affable and charming. In a business
driven by writing, the best TV writers are superb storytellers who know
how to build their worldview so fully into their shows that it’s
scarcely noticeable. In the most effective cases, hapless viewers
looking for a little entertainment don’t even realize that their values
are being subtly deconstructed and transformed over time.
Conservatives who wish to affect the culture have a lot to learn
from these guys. We need to become great storytellers. The only
effective way to rescue entertainment, this critical dimension of
culture, is through compelling stories about characters people care
about. Culture can’t be changed with lectures and hectoring political
diatribes, as the left discovered long ago, though such rants still
occasionally turn up in patches of lazy dialogue. In other words, as
anyone who has ever taken a creative writing class has heard, "Show,
don’t tell." (In politics, unfortunately, where voters desperately NEED
to be told, to have conservatism and its benefits explained to them, the
spineless Republican establishment isn’t even willing to tell! But
that’s a story for another day.)
Does culture matter? Oh, yes, it matters to an almost unimaginable degree. It’s the very atmosphere we breathe.
As Mark Steyn recently pointed out
in an interview with Rush for The Limbaugh Letter, it’s ultimately
pointless to achieve conservative political success if the culture
remains totally liberal. Very few politicians have the guts to stand up
against the forces of culture. Mark suggests this is the primary reason
the defense of traditional marriage is probably a lost cause, along with
a great many other matters we care about. Lost causes indeed, unless
and until we learn how to fight back at least as effectively as the left
in the cultural realm and preferably much more successfully than we are
in the political.
The entertainment we consume is a vitally important aspect of the
culture. That’s why conservatives need to get busy, both as informed
consumers and even more importantly as artists, writers and creators.
Author’s Note: My historical novel THE SECOND THANKSGIVING, A Novel of Plymouth 1623, can be found on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback versions.
0 0 votes
Article Rating