Here’s the latest from the crossroads of faith, media & culture: 10/15/21

Critical Race Theory is shaping up as perhaps the mother of all issues this election cycle. The Biden Administration unleashed the righteous anger of moms (and dads) when it got Attorney General Merrick Garland to instruct the FBI to become involved in monitoring parents who dare express anger against arrogant school boards that dismiss their concerns while pushing Woke curricula on their kids. Certainly any kind of physical threats are never appropriate (and should be dealt with by local police) but the suggestion that understandably upset mothers and fathers are akin to domestic terrorists is a nonsensical and dangerous leap. Fox News spoke to some of the supposed potential terrorists in the video below. All of their concerns are worth hearing but the perspective of Xi Van Fleet, a Virginia mom who experienced life in Maoist China, is particularly poignant.

While most of the corporate media appears to be either aligned with Woke ideologues or afraid to stand up to them, there are pockets of cultural resistance that still stand up for the values of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Fox News (which recently had the temerity to air this) would be one. Angel Studios would be another. The streaming upstart helps content creators whose traditional principles are odds with Woke doctrine to crowdfund and distribute their content. The company has reportedly already accrued an audience base of 32 million across all platforms with a slate of successful original series that includes the biblical drama The Chosen, the clean-standup showcase Dry Bar Comedy and the absurdist workplace sitcom Freelancers.

New to the platform this week is Tuttle Twinsan animated time-traveling comedy series that kids and adults can enjoy together while picking up some interesting tidbits about the foundational principles of freedom that make America a beacon for the world. The show is based on the award-winning bestselling kidlit series by Connor Boyack that has sold over three-million copies.

As noted above, a lot has happened to make Tuttle Twins even timelier since I last spoke showrunner Daniel Harmon when the show was in development last January. I caught up with him again yesterday. Our conversation follows the trailer below.

JWK: We last talked in January when the Tuttle Twins series was in development. Since then I would say the issue of how history and traditional American values are presented to kids has become even more timely – making your show more timely. What are your thoughts on that?

Daniel Harmon: I think that parents are recognizing that there are a lot of things being taught in schools that they don’t agree with – and a lot of things that they believe in that are being left out of the teachings in schools and the culture. So, we’re seeing with the momentum of Tuttle Twins – with over three-million books sold and with the success of raising $3.7 million through crowdfunding for this TV show – that there are a lot of parents that, I think, are making the right decision to say “We’re not gonna wait for society to change. We’re not gonna wait for our public schools to change. We’re going to change things in our own homes. We’re gonna take matters into our own hands and we’re gonna find ways to bring (principles and values) into our homes to teach to our kids.” And that what we’re seeing with Tuttle Twins.

JWK: Do you feel that, by virtue of that, pressure will mount on the education establishment to listen to the parents?

DH: I think that the numbers – and the success of the show – are showing, and will show, how much market demand there is for this type of content. Parents really want to teach their kids about personal freedom, the Golden Rule, entrepreneurship, free markets and capitalism – and they want to pass their values down to their kids. They know it’s not gonna happen if they just turn their kids over to whatever systems the government has in place. They’ve got to do it inside the home – and, yes, I do think that will increase pressure on the outside to see “Wow! This isn’t just a tiny minority. This is a giant chunk of the nation that believes this way!”

JWK: So, this show dropped on Tuesday. How many episodes are up right now?

DH: One episode (is) up. We are releasing an episode every other Tuesday. We’re calling it Tuttle Twins Tuesdays. So, the next episode releases October 26th.

JWK: What kind of reaction have you received so far from viewers?

DH: Almost universally positive. The YouTube video I think has something like 98% likes on it compared to like 1 1/2% dislikes. So, people are loving the content. They’re really enjoying the characters. That’s kinda been the vision for the show from the beginning. I’ve been wanting to create a show that kids choose as entertainment over options on Disney+, YouTube and Netflix – just for the entertainment value but then they’re also getting really great education, principles and lessons right along with it.

JWK: How many episodes are going to be in Season 1?

DH: They’ll be 12 episodes.

JWK: That’s a good robust number. So, what subjects will the episodes be tackling?

DH: The first episode tackles rights – that we have a right to life, liberty and property that’s given to us by God or by our nature and that it’s the government’s job to protect those rights. Then we’ll talk about the Golden Rule and how that applies to wanting to get revenge on someone or some people and also things like free trade and the Invisible Hand and then entrepreneurship. We’ll be touching on inflation and personal freedoms. We’ll be going into the concept of protectionism – where big businesses use big government to keep down the little guys. So, we’ll be touching on all sorts of good stuff.

JWK: When you talk about the “Invisible Hand” you’re talking about how capitalism works to figure out what society needs and wants in a way that the government never could.

DH: Exactly. It’s free-market capitalism in that people make better choices for themselves than a government will make for them about what they need and how to satisfy those needs.

JWK: So, you’ve been getting good reaction to the show. Let’s say it really takes off and another platform wants it. Could it go to another platform where it would perhaps a larger audience or is it locked into Angel?

DH: The hope is that we do find our way onto other platforms. We have an exclusive distributing partnership for streaming online with Angel Studios but, if the right deal comes along and Angel Studios is agreeable to it as well, yeah, we’d love to stream on other services. We’d love to find our way onto broadcast channels or cable channels. We’re open to all those things.

JWK: What do you hope to accomplish with this show?

DH: Our goal is to reach 100-million kids with the show. It’s a BIG goal but that’s what we want to do in the next ten years. We feel like, with the help of our audience, we can get there. What we want to do is change the hearts and minds of kids so that they feel empowered with the rights that they have and the change that they can make in their own communities and in their own governments – and to let them know that there’s a way to go about and do that, to have their voice heard and to go and claim those rights that are naturally theirs.

JWK: While kids perhaps have never been exposed to these ideas and ideals in school, lots of adults have sort of drifted away from them too and, maybe, could use a refresher course.

DH: One of the cool things about this show is that it is a co-viewing experience – meaning the entire intention of the show is for kids and parents to watch and like and have conversations. That’s exactly what’s happened with the books. Connor Boyack, the author of the books, gets messages, emails and letters all the time (from) parents saying how they’re finally having really meaningful conversations with their kids about things like economics in ways that they can both understand it.

Even in my house, last night I was helping my daughter write a paper for one of her classes and she was needing to answer a question about taxes. I watched her go back and think of the principles that she was learning in Episode 1. She was thinking of how (they) applied to a question about (whether) it was okay for England to tax the colonies with the taxes that they were putting on tea at the time. She was thinking of it in the context of the principles she learned about the government’s job to protect life, liberty and property. It was really neat to see that conversation happen. That’s what we want. We want adults and kids to watch it together and to have conversations about it that they’ve never had.

JWK: Anything you’d like to add?

DH: We’re having a lot of fun. It’s a really unique position that we’re in to be able to teach these principles clearly and do it in a fun, entertaining way. So, we’re having the ride of a lifetime (while) hopefully changing the society for the better.

End Note: You can watch Tuttle Twins for free by downloading the Angel Studios app here.

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

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