Faith, Media & Culture

Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.

I’m not alone. It’s nice to be on the same page with the likes of conservative novelist Andrew Klavan who is calling for the creation of a creative infrastructure to support artists who support traditional values. Klavan writing for City Journal: Conservatives think when they have won an argument in the newspapers, the fight is over. Leftists know their Hippocrates. They know they can rewrite history in novels, on TV, and in the movies, and a generation later, their false versions will be accepted as truth. As former ambassador Joseph Wilson said, when his questionable actions were rendered heroic in the dishonest movie Fair Game: “For people who have short memories or don’t read, this is the only way they will remember the period.” It’s not that conservative ideas don’t make their way into popular entertainment; it’s that they always come in disguise. Even leftists love deeply conservative films like the Lord of the Rings and Dark Knight trilogies, because they recognize good values when they’re not forced to apply them to real life. But conservatives themselves quail when conservatives speak their values plainly in the arts. Too preachy, they cry, too much propaganda, too much . . . too much . . . conservatism! We don’t need more conservative artists. We need an infrastructure to support them: more funding, more distribution, sympathetic review venues, grants and awards for arts that speak the truth out loud.

Here what I wrote earlier this year: Conservatives need their own HBO. I’m talking about a pay channel which honors values such as faith, kindness, forgiveness, patriotism, personal responsibility and mutual respect, rather than dismissing or denigrating them. It could be marketed via churches and conservative organizations, not as a means to attack the left but to uphold, via the programming we support, the values we hold true.

Developing such a platform would be the next logical step in the conservative media revolution spearheaded by the late Andrew Breitbart whose websites (i.e. Big Hollywood, Big Government, etc.) provide an excellent forum for conservative commentary on the culture. The next phase is creating a distribution infrastructure for conservative programming it because, as has been accurately stated, “Politics is downstream from culture.”

The network could be called Upstream TV, both a reference to the phrase that inspired it and the emerging technology which will allow it flourish, unbundled and without the support of cable industry gatekeepers.  The service could be paid for by a combination of consumer subscriptions and advertising (in much the same manner of old-style magazines). The mix would keep costs down for the consumer while assuring advertisers (i.e. P&G and Walmart) that they are reaching an under-served audience that really wants and appreciates the product.

The channel would offer a wide mix of quality original and acquired programming from talented producers and writers who present a clear alternative to the general Hollywood perspective.  It’s been my experience that there’s no shortage of accomplished and talented people eager to produce such fare. The missing link, particularly in television, has been distribution.

While Upstream TV wouldn’t strictly be a family or faith network, it would respect and honor traditional values in its programming while avoiding annoying cultural sucker punches.

Meanwhile, Mitt Romney will be looking for something to do. From The Blaze: So, what does the future hold for Romney? The former Massachusetts governor plans to make the significant transition out of the public eye for the time being. He plans to “reflect and spend time with his family” before determining exactly what his next move will be, according to an advisor…It wasn’t immediately clear if Romney will seek an ongoing role in a Republican Party. With a successful career in the private sector, he could secure a position in private business. Those close to Romney also suggest he could purse philanthropic opportunities or even play a role in the Olympics after having led the 2002 Winter Games.
Comment: Mitt, Mitt, Mitt. Philanthropy is fine and I’m all for that. But, as I wrote yesterday, I personally hope a man of your talents builds something a little more enduring than an event that that is over in two weeks. Please build that cultural infrastructure that will distribute and support quality values-based entertainment that will, in fact, over time, result in more positive political outcomes. Other than your own family, what would be a finer legacy?

And, if Mitt doesn’t answer the call, is there some other conservative business builder out there who can make this happen? It’s important. The future of our nation depends on a positive cultural shift. It’s unfortunate but this presidential election was largely decided by a naive but politically-powerful bloc of young voters who base their opinions and distorted attitudes about conservatism and Judeo-Christian values on the latest episodes of Glee, MTV and The Daily Show. BTW, I actually think The Daily Show is funny but I don’t base my opinions on it. But some people do. We need to offer alternatives that are equally clever and hip. The future of our country actually depends on it.

It can be done. If we build it, the audiences will come. But someone has to put their money and talents where their beliefs are and actually build it.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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