Post 2.9 - Conservative Creativity

One of the things I miss about living in the New York media market are stations like 1010 WINS. The Phoenix market has no such station. The closest we get is KTAR 92.3 FM, which is euphemistically publicized as "news talk"; it is primarily conservative talking heads, but they do have local weather and traffic.

I went out to grab some lunch last week and was flipping through the stations when I found myself listening to Glenn Beck, formerly of Faux Fox News. His guest for those few minutes was a conservative writer who claimed to have been unofficially blackballed in Hollywood due to his conservative political views. Apparently, he had written a series pilot, secured representation, and then was dropped by that representation for being an unsellable quantity, again, due to his conservative political views. The interview continued and included a soundbite from Marc Cherry, the creator of Desperate Housewives, as he discussed the inclusion of gay neighbors on Wisteria Lane as being something of a non-issue, but that a "seed had been planted".

So that got me thinking. I don't doubt the veracity of Beck's guest. It would not be the first time that Hollywood blackballed someone because of politics. But then I thought, do we want conservatives in creative media?

Media portrayals by the powers that be do promote an agenda, and many programs try to reflect what is going on in society -- but it has not always been this way. As film and television has matured as an industry and as a method of mass communication, so has its content, and conservatives have fought this maturation every step of the way. The Hayes Code governed film with an iron fist for decades until the public couldn't take it anymore, ushering in the MPAA Rating system we are now used to (in the US). And as for television, there was a time when you couldn't say the word "pregnant" on TV, and we all remember married couples sleeping in separate twin beds -- yet somehow still getting pregnant having a baby.

It is also useful to note that the last time Hollywood saw political blacklisting on a large scale was during the 1950s McCarthy hearings. Television sitcoms of that era consisted of fathers who knew everything, mothers/wives who were deferential and content to stay home without careers, and kids who didn't have any real issues to deal with.

This isn't to say that liberals have things all right, either, but by the late 1960s, society revolted against the conservative media. They wanted more realistic and thought-provoking artistic content. The humor and controversy surrounding All in the Family was based on Archie Bunker's ultra-conservatism and resulting bigotry. By the mid-1970s, The Jeffersons, a spin-off from All in the Family, dealt openly with racial issues including inter-racial marriage, sexuality issues like homosexuality and transexuality, and gender roles in society. Dramas were similarly evolving throughout the period, both during daytime hours and primetime, dealing with abortion, marital infidelity, and divorce.

By the 1990s, the pendulum had swung too far, with sitcoms having evolved to depict women/mothers/wives who knew everything, men/fathers/husbands who were essentially less intelligent and useless, and kids having all manner of problems and issues to address. This scenario was also not entirely reflective of reality. While issues were no longer ignored, it seems some sitcom families went through much more than their fair share of social problems. However, the conservative hold had still not broken entirely: the first romantic gay kiss was supposed to air as part of a Melrose Place episode, but was replaced with a cutaway to another character's reaction. Some things were still too hot to handle.

But overall, I'd have to say that I cannot blame Hollywood for being less supportive of avowed conservatives, both financially and creatively.

Conservatives do not support Hollywood, they tend to attack it, even the commercials. Recently, a mother wrote to the Fox network to complain about a commercial that aired during American Idol in support of the It Gets Better Project and the Google Chrome browser, because she considered it a "gay issue" she didn't want to discuss with her child -- never mind that it's about bullying, not being gay. Historically, Democratic political candidates receive more donations from Hollywood than their Republican counterparts, even to the point of active campaigning.

And let's step back for a moment and think about what a conservative program might be like. Would there be diverse characters? Would there be strong female roles? Would they address social issues from both sides or only a conservative perspective? Would they deal with bigotry and prejudice honestly, ignore it entirely, or justify it based on "conservative values"?

Now, these are generalizations -- I recognize that, but let's look at the facts.

Conservatives live in their own world, and it isn't reality. The fervor and blind support for George W. Bush did not end until the economy was driven into the ground and could no longer be ignored; the man could previously do no wrong. They revere Ronald Reagan for his economics when we continue to pay the price for his policies. They long for the "good old days" of the Eisenhower era, when blacks were not treated as equals, women could not obtain safe or legal abortions, often resulting in their deaths, and sexual minorities were imprisoned in their closets. The very word "conservative" implies slow change, if any change at all. It does not encourage individuality or any sort of thinking outside the box.

All men are created equal, but only if you color within the lines, as far as conservatives are concerned.

Liberals gave women the vote. Liberals pushed forward civil rights. Liberals created the "entitlement" programs we hear about so much these days -- Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid -- as a safety net for the largest number of people possible. Liberals fought the robberbarons. Liberals established worker's rights (including the length of our current work day and protections for child workers), the concept of equal opportunity, and affirmative action.

Conservatives continue to fight any establishment of rights for anyone other than themselves, even when their position is illogical and unjust. Conservatives prefer business rights to personal rights. Conservatives do not believe in helping the less fortunate in any truly meaningful or systemic way -- everyone is just on their own in a system already stacked against them.

So Beck's guest had written this television pilot called Harvard Law, and since I haven't read it, I can only assume that it is about law students and legal professionals just starting out. Could we assume that there would be any social justice present in the storyline? How would legal questions be addressed dramatically?

I am not saying there isn't liberal bias present in the media, but being willing to discuss all sides of an issue and come to a just and fair compromise is not a weakness. Thinking ahead, looking forward, promoting change and growth -- these are all good things. Society has to evolve.

Oh wait... there's that evolution thing again.

Have a question or a suggestion for a future topic? E-mail me at facetsblog@gmail.com.

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