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The Need for Conservative & Libertarian Arts Funding

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If conservatives or libertarians (for they are not identical) hope to make advances in the culture war, they need to devote more private resources to arts funding; to establish a grant-making infrastructure to fund and connect like-minded writers, actors, musicians, and filmmakers.

People ignore the arts at their peril. No matter who is elected to steer the ship of state, a captain can only push so far against the cultural currents, which flow in the direction of whoever writes our shared stories. Popular prejudices, shaped by culture, circumscribe an elected official’s policies. A politician can only cut taxes so much if the beneficiaries are perceived as snotty bluebloods. Popular entertainment spins our hopes and dreams and nightmares, our heroes and villains. It is the prism through which the populace interprets all it sees.

Whatever you think of Bush, the following is instructive: In 2000, without knowing anything about him, many voters recoiled upon seeing Bush. In their subconscious lurked thousands of film & TV portrayals of drunken fratboy, Southern-accented, Bible-thumping, country-club Republican bigots. Stereotypes as false as any other; as false, say, as those against Arabs, Muslims, and the French — no more, no less. But dry facts and statistics are a poor defense against the vague “gut feelings” created by media stereotypes.

(For more on the subject of TV stereotypes, see Ben Stein’s The View From
Sunset Boulevard.)

Conservatives (more so than libertarians) have long whined about their portrayal in the media and the lack of conservative artists, but their only solution seems to be to initiate boycotts. They don’t realize that Hollywood largely regards conservative consumers as a nonviable market, irrelevant to their business plans. The Dixie Chicks remained unscathed. Even were it otherwise, Hollywood won’t relent to boycotts by “bigots,” which is how conservatives are perceived.

Besides which, boycotts are a loser’s game. Americans demand entertainment, and you can’t fight something with nothing. The best way to get someone to stop buying X is not to boycott X, but to offer a more attractive Y.

But how to develop a more attractive Y?

Conservatives and libertarians expect their artists to be supported by the market, but that attitude ill serves the creation of a conservative or libertarian culture. Artists must be nurtured as they master their craft. Supporting artists before they create something marketable isn’t necessary, but it helps. Money is the mothers milk of both politics and future artists. Liberals understand this, and have built an arts funding infrastructure composed of private foundations, government arts councils, the small press, and university presses. They provide a safety net to artists via teaching posts, fellowships, and nonprofit foundation jobs.

Conservatives and libertarians have influenced the culture via blogs, talk radio,
and opinion journals, but they still fall short in the arts, especially in music and film. A privately-financed, arts funding infrastructure would help.

It should have three goals: Identify, Assist, Integrate.

(1) Identify like-minded artists. Seek them via the internet. Place notices on film school bulletin boards, music clubs, organizational newsletters.

(2) Assist however possible. Ask every artist: “How can we help?” Networking & promotion is cheap. If this foundation can’t fund an entire project, it might offer seed money, matching funds, completion funds, something to move projects to “the next level.” Maybe a band has recorded a tape, but needs a $1000 to press some CDs. Or a play is set to go, but can use a $100 for advertising.

(3) No artist wants to remain in a political ghetto. The goal should be to integrate these artists into the mainstream (as is done with ethnic minorities), such as by promoting them on TV, radio, film festivals, etc. The goal should be to help artists create, build a career, and then, hopefully, they’ll “give back” to those who helped.

Such a foundation should not be ideologically narrow (demanding a specific message for its grant money), nor look over the shoulders of artists like a Stalinist commissar. That would stifle individual creativity. Rather, once an artist has been approved for funding, the foundation must let go so that “a 100 flowers may bloom.” Some disappointing work will result, but that is the nature of freedom, the nature of art. You must allow for some “bad investments” so the good ones will grow.

The money is there. William Bennett’s gambling losses alone could have provided much conservative arts funding. Yes, yes, I agree, Bennett’s private property is his to fritter away however he pleases. Even so, what a waste…

(Ironically, while big money and mainstream conservatives largely ignore the arts (apart from boycotting them), the poorer libertarians and Christian conservatives have made modest attempts to support their artists (via awards, grants, and the market), through the Libertarian Futurist Society and Institute for Humane Studies, the Dove Foundation and Christian Cinema.)

Regrettably, the idea of offering grant money (“money for nothing”) to artists, and afterward to allow artists to follow their own visions (no accountability) goes against the instincts of both conservatives and libertarians. Plus boycotts, although creating nothing (and you can’t fight something with nothing), are more fun for bloggers and webzines, and bring higher ratings for radio and cable TV shows.

Years from now, I expect conservatives will still be organizing new boycotts, even as the Dixie Chicks and Susan Sarandon complete new projects. I only hope that libertarians will steer a more productive course.

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About Thomas M. Sipos

  • We need to show that nobody needs government funding. More, we need to start providing support for those libertarians who are working in the arts. How do you expect to have more libertarian artists and writers out there if nobody supports them?

  • That explains Ashley Tisdale, the god damn liberal whore.

  • Leftists dominate the arts because they took the arts and humanities over, and now won’t hire anyone but their own. Historically, conservatives have dominated literature. The novel came about in conjunction with the rise of classical liberalism — aka libertarianism.

  • Pantloads=Liar

  • gees dude, cut back on the bile you pour over yer cornflakes.

  • diva, nonsense. you specifically attributed the figures to corporate giving, moron–because you were too stupid or too careless to study the methodology used.

    i am hurt that you havent accused me of buying my wife and use “class clown.” your failure to offer a meaningful rebuttal is typical. you lazy fraud.

    nat, thanks for admitting at last your hatred for organized religion and your mean-spirited and totally baseless hatred for states that MIGHT have alarge bit of religious based philanthropy (you could have bothered to back that assertion, but didnt). shame on those biblical bastards who build hospitals to sucker the unsuspecting…

  • As I said before, the data offered by the class clown above does not answer the question of who gives what to whom. Instead, it considers contributions based on state of residence, and not excluding corporations, gleaned from tax returns.

  • some religious charities only do “good’ so they can proselytize. that negates whatever “good” they do, IMO.

    that said, fund arts from all points of view. everyone deserves to be offended. if the religious wrong can be outraged by mapplethorpe and “piss christ,” well, lefties should be able to take whatever right-wing artists create. after all, the same choice is available to all — don’t look at art you don’t like.

  • “based on the comprehensive data of personal income tax returns”

    this is from the explanation of the information used to create the generosity index.

    mac, you are either a world class ignoramus or a world class liar. your statement that corporate giving is the determinant is a lie and and a poorly conceived one at that. and most of the country’s most affluent states rank near the bottom in generosity. you are a cheap fraud.

    and this anti-religious pabulum is offensive. it seems some at BC think that charity is only charity if they approve of the charity or if it passes their litmus tests.

    religious charities self-consume no more of their receipts than do non-religious ones. religious charities do good things for people, which is obviously not the main concern of some of our hard left friends.

  • Mark

    First of all I would like to thank you all for a great converation on arts related matters. I am doing research for a paper on Censorship and funding for the arts in america. I am very interested in the topic of this thread, funding for conservative arts.

    I would like to know if anyone has information about any conservative / christian artists that are active in the modern visual arts field. and if they are getting any funding. Or even if they are considered valueable to the arts world and not just pigeonholed for being conservative.

    During a discussion with my mother she put her argument against funding the arts into one statement. “Why should I have to pay for something that I find offensive and immoral?” She was referring to the decade old controversy over photographer Robert Mapplethorpe and artist Karen Finley.

    During the planning phase for this paper I had planned to argue the “liberal” side of the topic, that anyone should get funding if they show artistic merit for their work. However it is difficult to argue for something that might be against my morals.

    I identify with her statement that some images produced in the name of art have been offensive to certain groups. My defense of this is that the art world is not the “real world”. The purpose of art is to inspire ideas and foster new ways of thinking. With the changing values and problems in society an artist must be able to use current issues in their art to remain an active and respected artist. Abstract expressionism (pollock) began almost 70 years ago, so during that time nearly all of it’s power of expression has been exhausted. These new of these ideas are not always popular, even inside art circles. This is why we have funding for the arts in the first place. After a begining artist has had time to establish himself I believe that he/she has no more need for funding. If the market can support them then the public shouldn’t have to.

    The point of all of this is that I believe that we should fund the arts because they give us the opportinity to discuss topics with people from all religious/ethnic/political backgrounds. I wrote this because I believe that some people might loose sight of the core issue in all of the liberal/conservative debates.

    Well thanks for letting me in on this little debate. I know that some people will never be able to see the issue from both sides, but I hope at least some of this made sense to someone.

  • I will try to locate a reliable and objective source on charitable giving. The data posted previously is not useful because it looks at state of residence, not per capital contribution or even portion of income. Furthermore, corporate giving is likely included. (Note that Delaware, home to many corporations because of its tax policies, is among the top states on the list.)

    From past reading and research, I believe middle-income people, surprisingly, give more to charity than the wealthy. Right Wing and Christian fundamentalist
    ‘giving,’ as Natalie said, is usually to themselves. For example, a Christian fundamentalist billionaire might endow a scholarship at Bob Jones University, but not to a public college. Their charities also often discriminate on the basis of sexual preference and race. Gay families will not be allowed access to a homeless shelter or black people will be excluded from housing opportunities if it would mean allowing them to live with whites. In other words, the belief system in itself precludes much empathy for people unlike themselves. . . . And, we haven’t even gotten to the Doctrine of the Elect yet.

    Thomas, I agree with you that what you are encouraging is contributing to the promulgation of libertarian and conservative views through the arts. However, I believe many of the people who would be the audience for it would see it as that taboo thing — sharing. Debbie is not on this thread so far, but it would be interesting to see how she interprets what you are saying.

  • Chris, point taken, although I was using Falwell’s school as an example.

    Something that occurred to me while I was driving and listening to Rush today: Most poorer Americans are Dems, aren’t they? Those folks, one might assume, don’t have as much money to give, esecially if they are tithers.

  • Those red-staters have all that money to give to theocracy-advocating charities because they got it from me.

  • So I’m not sure which faction actually gives more cash to charities that actually help people.

    much as i expected, the first response is to deny the reality.

    the poster displays a woeful ignorance of philanthropy. charities that “actually help people,” which is the author’s code for non-religious organizations, spend large amounts of $ on upkeep, salary, infrastructure, etc. in many cases, as much as 95%. based on my experience in the field, non-religious charities spend as much if not more on themselves than do religious ones–strips this “religiosity” obfuscation has no merit.

    stay in denial, it’s easier than repudiating the hatred of heartlanders.

  • ClubhouseCancer

    I think the placement of Utah at the top of the list makes it clear that it’s the religiosity of the heartlanders that is reflected here, not their generosity.

    It’s true that churches fund charities, but churches also ARE charities. That is, some (most? I’m sure it varies) of the cash you put in the collection box goes to church upkeep, paying the pastor etc. So I’m not sure which faction actually gives more cash to charities that actually help people.

    Of course, the issue of which charities do so is certainly subjective and would be, I’m sure, subject to heavily political wrangling here.

    All that said, I’m constantly amazed at the personal, day-to-day generosity of people I’ve met all over the world, including right here in New York City, where this very morning I watched two huge guys lift a baby carriage up a huge flight of subway stairs without even being asked by the mother who needed help.

  • In my experience, conservatives and libertarians … do not like to share. … Contributing to the arts — or endowing scholarships or supporting job training for the poor — is, you guessed it, sharing.

    Not sharing, but an investment. If conservatives/libertarians fund like-minded art, that art may influence voters to support policies/candidates that would in turn benefit the initial donors.

  • the numbers are clear. red states are 1-20, 23 of top 25. blue states dominate the 40s. some heartland haters might look at this and reconsider their animus. some.

  • Here is the generosity index: this should link, but if not: use this:

    how long until a BC heartland hater tries to make this unpleasant reality disappear?

    and that cheap resort to religion bashing is odious at best–as if charity through the church is less worthy than charity through a lefty or righty (and often politicized) non-profit–and many of “nonprofits” absorb most of the money they earn (80% is far too common).

    i can’t believe someone would stoop to that level of rhetoric instead of just accepting this information. as someone who worked in the charity sphere, i find the anti-religion angle pretty preposterous.

    charity is less valid if it doesn’t comply with someone’s politics? jeeze.

  • I couldn’t find the link I wanted, but Comment 2 in this thread has a breakdown of percentages according to States.

    And, Natalie, it probably is speculation because in these parts of the US, most of the food bank efforts, etc. are undertaken by the different churches so that your tithe goes directly to support those efforts. Not to mention all the earmarking of funds for specific mission programs, mission programs in the community not overseas, that goes on in local churches in OK.

    For instance, the church I attend has adopted several local inner city elementary schools to buy school supplies, coats, clothes, etc. And, one of the more prominent charities here in OKC is Coats for Kids. Coats for Kids does take direct monetary donations, but they like for people to actually buy a coat and then donate it.

    And, there is only Jerry Falwell school I am aware of, Liberty University, and it is in Virginia.

  • Great point, other Chris. The top 20 states in charitable giving were all red states–and this was not an aberration, as it has been consistently so. I’m sure this dismays the heartland haters on the left so they will block it out. It probably also annoys the self-glorifying “activists” who are so generous–with other people’s money–and so quick to trumpet their moral superiority over the evil heartlanders.

    The “don’t like to share” argument is idiotic even by mac’s standards and is based on her ignorance and baseless personal animus toward people who differ more than anything connected to reality.

    Mac likes to make stuff up–like this, her professional qualifications, etc.

    on a serious note, public schools are a bad example of people sponging off the government–the government takes the money regardless of whether people send their kids to crappy government schools.

    go ahead, accuse me of buying my wife.

  • JR

    Numbers, please.

  • This is purely speculation on my part, but I have a sense that they contribute primarily to right-wing or fundamentalist efforts, like anti-abortion counseling centers, Jerry Falwell schools, and Christian missions. (Which, if correct, is completely within their rights; I am not criticizing.) But, for example, I would wager that Planned Parenthood and leftist housing and food bank efforts are getting their funding from blue-staters.

  • This not sharing would explain why the people in the Red States contribute, in what might be called considerable amounts, more to charity than the Blue States.

  • I just can’t see it. In my experience, conservatives and libertarians (who are just conservatives with longer hair) do not like to share. If their entire ideology could be boiled down to one thing, that would be it. Contributing to the arts — or endowing scholarships or supporting job training for the poor — is, you guessed it, sharing.

    Ancillary to not liking to share is not giving credit when others share with them. For example, many of them will go on and on about not getting anything for their taxes, while driving on federal highways, sending their kids to public schools and eating food and taking drugs that were tested by federal agencies.

    Thomas is suggesting that conservatives and libertarians contribute to fellow conservatives and libertarians who happen to be artists, not artists in general. Still, I don’t think it will happen much. Because . . . that would be sharing.

  • Eric Olsen

    whoa, time warp

  • I am Cornholio!

  • open-minded people generally don’t virulently hate people who differ because they differ, over political issues or whatever. some people might want to consider how consistent a pervasive (and often personal) hatred of non-leftists is with a nominally “progressive” outlook.

    some of the qualities that make many liberals or leftists good artists are the same ones that make them dangerous to the polity: passion, imagining a better world, willingness to devote oneself to the vision or cause. in a realm that you can control, such as the confines of a film, that is fine.

    it doesn’t work as well in political reality, and if the passion turns against the people who prove incapable of realizing the vision (basically everybody) or who oppose the vision quest, then watch out, as history has shown. in the u.s. at this point, a revolutionary vanguard is part of the problem–no matter whence it comes. easy does it, not to imply that we are drunk.

    that said, another substantial factor is close-mindedness. non-leftists are fairly unwelcome in academia, e.g., and, if flemming is a representative example, how welcome would a non-leftist feel standing around with he and his colleagues in the lower rungs of the film industry? intolerance for conservatives at the bottom is going to reduce the number who make it higher.

    more funding is part of the solution–private funding. non-lefties should try to do a better job on this score, so that we have more south parks to balance pantloads like the life of david gale. we should also let rich lefties like soros, and not the govt, fund lefty art.

    stereotypical conservatives, to use a weak argument technique, are less likely to pursue artistic careers that are a longshot to end in success in part because they are so unlikely to end in success. they figure they can work and do the family thing in the heartland and be happy.

    libertarians tend to be the toughest to pigeonhole, but i think based on what i have seen in the blogosphere libertarians count an impressive number of outstanding writers among their ranks. the desire to be left to your own devices is appealing to some creative people.

    so there. sorry i dont have time to clean up this comment.

  • Just a small comment of the use and misuse of the word “conservative.” At its base, to be politically conservative means to reject ideology in favor of tradition and building on the wisdom of earlier generations. It means a desire to see the institutions instrumental to a civil society presevered and protected. It means waiting for change to occur naturally, not impose it as a “good idea.” If it is a good idea, time will show it.

    As far as “conservatives” in the Arts, the film “A Simple Plan” pretty much sums up what conservative art might look like.

  • first you say that liberals have nothing “open minded” about them…then you go on to state, with absolute surety, that there are only two types of liberals.

    so there’s absolutely no middle ground?

    very open-minded of you.

  • It seems Hollywood often thinks otherwise. Consider all the wonderful films that are deemed poison in terms of being commercially viable. All too often, “commercially viable” equals explosions, scantily clad hunks and babes, and sophomoric “humor.” “Art” films, meaning well-done ones with a “higher” purpose, are considered extremely tough sells and have a very hard time getting green lights and greenbacks.

  • Quoting: “Conservatives can have the second amendment if they give us all the others.”

    One gun, one vote. (That’s why there IS a second amendment….)

  • Okay, okay…a film can stink and still be commercially viable. But it would be so much MORE commercially viable if it didn’t stink.

  • “As I said, to be commercially viable, a film can’t stink.”

    You can’t seriously believe that. A lot of trash is popular and makes money.

    That said, I am all for funding artists of all viewpoints. More art, not less, is a good thing.

  • Film grants for students and first time film makers would be okay for documentaries and film study, but shouldn’t be used for established artists. Furthermore, if a film is not commercially viable on its own, it’s probably because it stinks.

    How many grant-funded films have YOU ever watched?

    I thought so.

    I am writing an action-thriller script right now (or actually, taking a break there-from) and it has no political goal. Who wants to write scripts that are just political lecturing? Many of the films that Conservatives and Libertarians trumpet as being like-minded are no such thing. There are films that have themes that Conservatives agree with, and there are films that avoid being Leftist drivel-fests, but that doesn’t make them “Conservative” films. Films are entertainment. They should be enjoyable regardless of party affiliation.

    The Liberal bias in Hollywood has nothing to do with artists being “open-minded.” That is just Stalinist Party Line B.S. Liberals, who WORSHIP political correctness (they invented it), have nothing open-minded about them. Liberals fall into two categories: the leadership and the pawns. The leaders are Liberal because they see the Left as vehicle to their own goals (particularly money and power). Examples are Ted Turner, Hillary Clinton and Ramsey Clark. Pawns are Liberal because they don’t understand the issues. Ask your average film student to describe the Laffer Curve or the process of wealth creation. Ask the same student to tell you what happened in Hungary in 1956 or in Czechoslovakia in 1968? Ask them about marginal utility. Ask the who James Madison was or about the Enumerated Powers Clause. Ask them what the difference is between a primary and a general election. Ask them to name to houses of Congress. THEY HAVEN’T THE FOGGIEST. It would be like asking for my thoughts on quantum physics. Easy answer: I ain’t got any. But I’m more honest than some (such as Oliver Stone).

    That’s okay, though. Only a nitwit gets their politics from Hollywood and MTV. And one other thing:

    As I said, to be commercially viable, a film can’t stink. The more so if it costs a lot by Hollywood standards to make. That said, a film that tries to shove Leftist “I hate America” junk down the market’s throat makes a very quick leap to video and in-flight movies. People don’t want to see it.

    Saving Private Ryan was done by Liberals. It is not a Liberal movie.

    My movie, should it ever be made, is written by a neo-Conservative. It is not a Conservative movie.

    Long live the movie-theater.

  • Johan

    Phillip Winn: “What constitutes a liberal or conservative work of art, after all?”

    Good question. When it comes to the visual arts (that’s where my experience is), it’s soaked in neo-Marxism, feminism and any other name of pure left-wing politics. What makes a piece of art “good” today is to what degree it is political and most importantly; left-wing political. Left-wing politics have hijacked and abused Arts, with the real big starting point in 1968 (we all know what happened then, do we?). At least visual arts should not be about politics. If the concept/idea/subject/subject matter becomes more important, in let’s say a painting, than the aesthetic and formal qualities, it’s not art anymore because it’s only an idea expressed in pictures rather than words or through a film. Don’t misunderstand me here, paintings/drawings can have an idea behind it (a subject), but is it supposed to be a political one? No, because how do you present a political idea, like communism, without making the idea bigger and more important than the formal qualities? It’s much easier to balance a piece of art which subject is freedom, love or any other “general” idea, and still make a piece of art which is aesthetically, formally and visually interesting and inspiring. Ask yourself this: what, in any chosen painting/drawing, is it that attract you? Do you like the drip-lines and splatter of Jackson Pollock? The imaginary fantasy worlds of Bosch? In Visual Arts, it is the formal (lines, shapes, figures, composition, colors etc.) that attracts first, and not so much the subject or subject matter (two things that are pretty much the same but different).

    My personal opinion is that politics and visual art should not mix. Everything in life is not about politics (how boring would that be?) – art should be something enjoyed when you want to have a pause from politics! And this is perhaps where you can distinguish left-wing (liberal, socialist) visual art and right-wing conservative, libertarian) visual art: the former incorporates politics while the latter does (or should) not.

    Al Barger: “Also, the independent commercial success of these shows underlines one reason why I’m skeptical of the idea of right-wing arts funding”

    Well, if you like to see socialist, marxist, feminist propaganda instead of a perfectly ordinary painting every time you visit a museum of art or art gallery in the future I can understand why you take such a stand. In order to “save what’s left” of the visual art scene, it is necessary to help conservative/libertarian artists financially. Right-wing artists like me do not grow money on tree’s, and without money for a college education etc. in visual arts, we can kiss the visual arts goodbye.

    (Please excuse my incoherent babbling. I had too much to say in a very short time – no time to arrange my thoughts properly, and the reason why I solely mention the visual art is because that’s my field of experience and interest)

  • Phillip,

    You wrote:

      …I would equate the “radical homosexual agenda” with the “Christian right,” existing – not imaginary – but not a distinct threat to society. You seem to be implying that the one is imaginary while the other is a clear and present danger.

    No, the glbt political agenda is not at all imaginary. I put it in quotes to indicate that that is the term the Christian Right uses for it.

    But note that I use the term “Christian Right,” rather than, oh, “radical theocratic agenda.”

    Both the radical homosexual agenda and the radical theocratic agenda exist. The difference is, one promotes tolerance, while the other promotes intolerance. I don’t think there is a glbt group on earth that wants to outlaw Christianity. Doesn’t work the same going the other way.

  • mike

    Conservatives can have the second amendment if they give us all the others.

  • Oh, Brian- The whole point of a conservative is that he sees himself as the center of the universe and defines himself against everyone else who is different.

    Really, does the asininity of this statement demand a serious answer?

    Who wants to see a story in which the hero STOPS somebody from changing the world for the better?

    The proper conservative response would be that they don’t want to stop someone from changing things for the better, but rather from changing things for the worse. Not all change is good. Hollaring for “change” is a liberal mantra. Conservatives would be more likely to ask exactly what kind of actual practical difference, and how will it be better than what we’ve already got?

    Conservatives can jack things up by being obstructions to needed change. For example, a lot of generally politically conservative (of whatever party brand) people were the latent opposition to ending Jim Crow, often more out of resistance to fundamental changes in their cages than out of any actual racial animosity.

    On the other hand, we’re quite fortunate to have had mean old uncaring conservatives to oppose the reforming forces of communism and socialism. Look at the wonders that those “progressive” utopian liberal dreams have done for absolutely every country that has ever taken the name. Russia, China, Cuba- bastions of freedom and prosperity?

    There are many more artistic types with basically conservative to libertarian outlooks than are generally recognized. Partly such people’s thoughts just aren’t as dominated by politics. That is, they are more interested in accomplishing something rather than rhapsodizing about utopian dreams. They may just be going about their business without carrying on about their great political dreams and visions.

    This does not mean a lack of imagination or thoughtfulness. For example, consider that the most obvious example of imaginative right-wing thinking on tv dominates the comedy roost, South Park. King of the Hill ain’t far behind in terms of expressing skepticism to typical liberal presumptions.

    Also, the independent commercial success of these shows underlines one reason why I’m skeptical of the idea of right-wing arts funding: the viable stuff tends to do just fine in the market without some special intervention. Mike Judge didn’t NEED a grant: he created Beavis and Butthead. Hank Hill pays his own way.

    Liberals want to think that all the smart, creative people are on their page, but they are quite presumptuous in doing so. Do you really think that Mick Jagger, for example, is a good left wing socialist?

  • Amazingly, Brian, we agree on this. Conservatism falls far short of its theoretical goals, a fact which galls me to no end.

    I’m sure we can find room for disagreement. For example, I would equate the “radical homosexual agenda” with the “Christian right,” existing – not imaginary – but not a distinct threat to society. You seem to be implying that the one is imaginary while the other is a clear and present danger. Such hysteria! 🙂

    I read an article earlier (With comments available! Knock yourself out, Brian!) on the subject. I’ll insert it paranthetically here instead of creating a whole new post, as I was debating before you brought this tired old subject up again.

    Since this is a diatribe against and about conservatives, I’ll resist the urge to point out how liberals tend to trumpet the 1st amendment while ignoring (or worse) the 2nd. Instead, I’ll just agree. A great many of the most public conservative faces are foolishly inconsistent. It’s a shame, too, because the conservative philosophy is superior, but apparently too difficult a standard for politicians to stick with once they get a whiff of the power that comes from a postal box in the Senate office building. 🙁

    How’s that for bait to derail this thread? Enjoy your afternoon, Brian. 🙂

  • You’ve done a good job of pointing out the personal hypocrisy of many conservatives. Conservatism is SUPPOSED to place individual liberty as the highest goal of society.

    In practice, conservatives rarely follow through. They rant against the “radical homosexual agenda,” on the grounds that marriage is the exclusive privilege of those who meet their definition of marriage-worthiness. They support an anti-drug “war” that demonizes individuals for smoking joints. They support the growing influence of the Christian Right on government. They don’t react with anger when a high-ranking Republican says the role of the state is to police the wants and desires of its citizens.

    About the only area in which conservatives maintain a consistent dedication to individual liberty is when it comes to the Second Ammendment. And, come to think of it, most films that express a clearly conservative point of view involve lots and lots of guns.

    Conservatives could perhaps increase their influence in the narrative arts if they expanded their libertarian streak beyond worship of instruments of violence. Then they could actually make movies in genres that didn’t require the mass killing of a foreign enemy.

  • Mad? It’s been a long time since name-calling has made me mad. Then again, it’s been a long time since I heard such juvenile mud-slinging, too. 🙂

    Still, Brian, it’s good to see your name in the comments again. It had been a few days, I was starting to worry an encounter with reason had scared you off or something!

    Anyway, on the subject of conservatives in the arts, I agree that it is a huge failing of conservatives in general that they have been content to throw stones from the sidelines rather than wade in and participate in the process. When the most well-known “Christian” artist is Michael Kinkade, something is horribly wrong!

    Still, they’re not unknown. Dean Koontz writes thrillers with a conservative bent. Libertarians are somewhat better. One favorite author of mine in the SF world is L.E. Modesitt, Jr. I should review some of his books. In SF, Heinlein also wrote some from a conservative perspective. Of course, he was widely misunderstood as a result, with the recent film adapation of Starship Trooper skipping all of the ideology and portraying some fo the surface elements of the film as fascist.

    Of course, SF is not solely the domain of conservatives. Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars series is as liberal as Modesitt is conservative, and there are obviously others.

    As far as why, I don’t know. Some of it I suspect is imagined. That is, how much of art is truly liberal, and how much is neither left nor right, so it is assumed to be liberal in the absence of contrary evidence. What constitutes a liberal or conservative work of art, after all?

    What makes music liberal or conservative? What makes a television show liberal or conservative? Is 24 one or the other? Was Picket Fences? How about American Idol?

    As far as the movie industry goes, the opening of McCarthy’s documents a few days ago is highly relevant. One thing that is now know is that while McCarthy’s methods were atrocious, and his timing was perhaps off, he was right in one thing: Hollywood was the target of the Soviet Union’s Communist party. Reagan similarly learned the same things, and converted to conservatism as a result, then devoted the rest of his life to combating Communism, first in Hollywood (successfully ending a boycott) and later in politics. I suggest that the extremely liberal foundation laid by the Communist party has borne fruit in a trend to the left today.

    Anyway, it’s a topic on which I could go on at length, mostly to criticize conservatives. To try to counter that, I’ll suggest one more factor. In my experience, youth tend to trend liberal, sometimes growing more conservative as they age. This might have something to do with the natural tendency of youth to try to push boundaries and experience personal liberty, which many conservatives react against, setting themselves up as the antithesis of youth. Where does most of the money to buy CDs and go to movies come from? Those youth.

    Just a thought.

  • I’ve often wondered why there are so few conservatives in the arts, especially in movies and theater, where I dwell. I honestly can’t say that I’ve ever met an (acknowledged) Republican in the cast or crew of any movie or play I’ve worked on.

    Political conversations happen all the time backstage or on the set, but always the unspoken premise is, We’re all liberals, now let’s see where we differ.

    I don’t believe it is because of some atmosphere of intimidation/liberal cabal/etc. If there’s one thing we writers, directors, actors and others have in common, it’s that we can’t shut the fuck up about how we feel. Especially actors.

    Oh, wait! I just remembered one suspected Republican I might have worked with. The guy who played Bill Gates in my Bill Gates-assassination film. Figures.

    Some ideas as to why there are so few conservatives in cinema and theater:

    –Creating stories requires an open mind. A good writer of story must be able to let his or her mind wander anywhere it wants to go. A writer has to be able to use imagination to enter the point of view of someone else, perhaps someone from a completely different walk of life. And if conservatives did that, they would cease to be conservatives. The whole point of a conservative is that he sees himself as the center of the universe and defines himself against everyone else who is different.

    –A good story is about change. You can’t write a decent story without a change of some kind–that’s the story’s reason for existing. And conservatives don’t like change.

    –Audiences come to the theater to hope. While some movies like, say, Death Wish or Rambo, appeal to the conservative fantasy that all the badness in the world can be killed or jailed away–and, as Motion Picture Academy President (and “Dog Day Afternoon” and “Cool hand Luke” author) Frank Pierson notes here, there is a disturbing trend toward the heroes of movies being unfeeling machines that kill–most people want stories that appeal to the best in them, not the worst. And conservatism, for all its noble goals, has inevitably appealed to the worst– fear, prejudice, hate. Liberalism has been about taking chances on hope. Who wants to see a story in which the hero STOPS somebody from changing the world for the better?

    –Fags. They’re everywhere in the arts. And conservatives are scared to death of them.

    Gee, I hope no conservatives are reading this. They’d probably get mad.