Here’s the latest from the crossroads of faith, media & culture: 12/04/20

Culture stream. Earlier this week, I reported on FOX Nation’s ambitious holiday programming plans – which include a move into scripted programming At the end of the post, I commented that IMHO “The expanding programming vision of FOX Nation is good news not just for viewers seeking news and entertainment options that align with their values (or, at the very least, don’t smugly mock them) but for content creators who can’t get past the distribution gatekeepers with original concepts that don’t stay within increasingly narrow PC lines. In short, FOX Nation could play an important role in canceling cancel culture.”

Now, I’d like to expand on that by sharing my own experience stemming from a decade of writing this blog, as well as writing, producing and development experience on both the news and entertainment sides of the media. Through the course of my career (which includes a good chunk of time working in Hollywood), I’ve developed lots of relationships in the centrist/conservative creative community that, while they overwhelmingly support ethnically, racially, religiously and sexually diverse representation in storytelling (as am I), has learned the hard way that concepts and narratives that even mildly prick the pretensions of the self-righteously Woke have little chance of seeing the light of day.  And, if they do somehow manage to slip past the gatekeepers, they are often cancelled despite ratings that exceed more politically-correct fare.

Case in point: ABC’s ridiculous decision to attempt to kill off Tim Allen’s Last Man Standing in 2017 despite regularly winning its time slot and ranking as ABC’s second highest-rated sitcom (behind Modern Family). After a year hiatus, the popular show was successfully salvaged and successfully relaunched by Fox Broadcasting. LMS is a gentle conservative-friendly sitcom with an overall message that people of differing political philosophies can get along and even love each other. Unfortunately, even that mild pushback on tow-the-line wokeness was too much for the powers that be at ABC to tolerate (despite more than decent ratings).

I’m in touch with conservatives who are well-established in the entertainment industry, as well as creative relative newcomers, and they all receive the same message from the studios and the networks: If you want to work in the wokestream media, avoid expressing a challenging opinion in public. Even the few working stars who publicly cop to being conservative in a general sense (i.e. Kelsey Grammer) have learned to hold their tongues on specific criticisms.

I go through all this to make the point that, just as Fox News has connected with a huge under-served audience by giving voice to centrist/conservative (as well as liberal) opinions and opinion makers, the same business opportunity beckons on the entertainment side of the media ledger. Beyond that, like Fox News, any network or streamer that delivers such a service will be patriotically serving the vital cause of free speech at a time when that First Amendment right is under assault by an increasingly powerful information cartel embodied by the globalist/corporate-controlled media and Big Tech censoring conglomerates. These are entities that are more concerned with access to Chinese markets than human rights, religious liberty, national boundaries, citizen empowerment (through entrepreneurship and higher wages for workers) or personal privacy and autonomy.

By expanding into the entertainment arena (including scripted fare), FOX Nation has the potential to be a positive cultural counterweight that actually respects the enormous traditional-values audience that feels ignored (at best) and/or insulted and attacked by an America-shaming wokestream media establishment.

More on this Tuesday.

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This is not an SNL cold open. Though it could be if the show’s writers actually followed the comedy and not their own elitist politics in developing material. But, anyway, you’ve probably heard that (Acting?) New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has copped an International Emmy Award, apparently in the Unlimited Series category. You know The Cuomo Show. It’s the one about the brilliant tell-it-like-it-is politician who the whole world turns to for comfort and wisdom during the COVID crisis. Never mind that his victory speech comes as cases surge again and that New York has seen more residents flee than any other state during the pandemic. His powerful performances have been so moving that people are actually moving away from their homes. The honor, we are told, is for his “effective use of television during the pandemic.” Replace the word “effective” with “self-serving” and you might have something approaching reality. As it is, it’s more like bad reality TV – staged and phony. Personally, I find The Cuomo Show to be more cringe-worthy than binge-worthy.

One more thought on this: If the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences really wanted to honor a positive use of television during the pandemic, they should have given some love to this moving and inspiring ad from Masimo. Simply one of the best ads I’ve ever seen – and it couldn’t have come at a more needed time.  Sadly (and oddly), it had a short run and didn’t get that much attention from a politicized media that apparently saw advantage in sowing fear and division (rather than hope and encouragement) during an election year.

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Finally, score a big shameful one for the America shamers. This week’s overlooked story actually should have run last week but A.) I was off on Friday and B.) It was really seriously overlooked (more like buried) by almost everyone. In fact, it wasn’t until I took a look at the UK’s Daily Mail that I learned the November 21 marked the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s arrival at what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts. That’s a pretty significant milestone and if there was ever a year that Americans needed something to celebrate it’s this one. Yet, instead of fireworks we got crickets from the American media (though Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton did note the event in a FoxNews.com op-ed). The reason why is painfully obvious. The wokestream media narrative is that America is racist and, therefore, anything that led to its emergence is certainly not to be celebrated. That’s B.S. Our history, like the history of the world, is far from perfect but the arc of the American story clearly bends toward justice. We’re a good country. It’s time to stop bowing down before the shamers and to start believing in ourselves again.

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

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