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  • True Hollywood Story: The Liberal Takeover of Your TV

    It’s difficult to find a television program that holds conservative ideals, let alone refrains from mocking them. Hollywood, it seems, is monolithically liberal. This is because conservatives underestimate the value of narrative and emotion, author Ben Shapiro contended in his talk “Primetime Propaganda: The True Hollywood Story of How the Left Took Over Your TV,” held last week at The Heritage Foundation.

    “Narrative matters,” Shapiro said. “Unfortunately, conservatives have abandoned narrative as an emotional tool…you hear it on talk radio all the time. We have all the logical arguments; we have the facts on our side; they just rely on emotion all the time.  Yeah, [because] it works.”

    Liberals, Shapiro said, use the medium of entertainment television as a propaganda tool to promote their political ends.

    “They’re very clever about it; they recognize that if they slide their messaging in, it’s much more effective than if they simply come out and hit you in the head with a two-by-four,” he said. To this end, they write sympathetic characters who behave badly yet advance their agenda.

    It wasn’t always this way. Television used to be fairly non-partisan in the 1950s and early 1960s. While the creators were liberal, the executives were mostly conservative.

    This changed around the time of John F. Kennedy’s death; liberalism as a whole went from optimistic to pessimistic, and conservative executives were replaced by younger, more liberal counterparts, though their audience was still conservative. They circumvented this problem thanks to what Shapiro termed a “scam” in advertising.

    As Shapiro explained, television is dependent on advertising for revenue, especially capturing the key demographic of those who haven’t yet hit middle age.

    “If you think about that for half a second, it makes absolutely no sense,” Shapiro stated. “Why should people 18 to 49 be the targets of advertisers?”

    The answer lies in the late 1960s, when ABC, which was based in urban areas and had been losing badly to CBS, convinced its advertisers that the most liberal age group in the country was the most desirable demographic. Family friendly fare like Green Acres was cancelled in favor of urban, hipper shows. Hollywood liberals could suddenly claim the market demands liberal programming.

    This keeps older, more rural conservatives out. Shaprio interviewed some of the biggest names in TV for his book, and many liberals admitted that Hollywood is insular; some gleefully talked about just how closed-minded it is. Vin DiBona, who produced MacGyver and creator of America’s Funniest Home Videos said he believed the accusation that Hollywood was leftist was accurate; moreover, he was “happy about it.” There are conservatives in Hollywood who are scared to admit their political affiliation for fear of losing their careers.

    There are no consequences for liberals in Hollywood, a group Shapiro describes as “liberal academia writ small.” The industry is vertically integrated, with a handful of companies organizing most programming. Consumers have no real choice in the messages they receive, he said.

    “There’s nothing to turn the channel to,” Shapiro said.

    Despite that fact, people will still watch TV because they love narrative. To stop the propaganda, Shapiro said conservatives must learn from liberals and recapture the power of narrative. In conservative hands, it can be a powerful tool.

    “Ronald Reagan knew the value of storytelling,” Shapiro said. “Our storytelling doesn’t need to be restricted to the political sphere…we need to put our money where our mouths are…we need to give advertisers an alternative place to put their bucks.”

    Only by creating an alternative Hollywood, Shapiro said, can conservatives break liberals’ hold on entertainment.

    Sterling Beard is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    6 Responses to True Hollywood Story: The Liberal Takeover of Your TV

    1. Bobbie says:

      Excellent work, Mr. Shapiro… but we loved American Carol! Hysterical slap stick!

      How did "atlas shrugged" do?

      To parent today is difficult. We thank God our children have come to see the light! It is a shame those in hollywood see so little of us to influence socialism over personal freedom. OHHH, we have to think like THAT because Jennifer ANNiston TOLD us to? How DARE YOU!!! Minds of our own think for ourselves!

      Someone needs to emphasize for the sake of all Americans and their personal dignity: "Liberty and Justice for all!" means each individual because we were all born from the wombs of our OWN mothers! or it would have been written: "Liberty and SOCIAL justice for all!!!" directly misinterpreting the context and purpose destroying personal justice, ONLY SOCIALISTS WOULD IMPOSE AND DICTATE AUTHORITY TO IMPLEMENT! No personal freedom OR PERSONAL JUSTICE and an elimination of a part of who ONE OF EACH person is to add to the mix of what all will become under hollywood's government "socialism and social justice." We haven't watched TV since we smelt the ROT! Years!

    2. Guest says:

      There are still a few good shows on cable networks that are worth watching. But I agree with Mr. Shapiro – Hollywood started getting really preachy about the mid 1970's. It wasn't blatent until about 10 years ago. As a conservative woman, I don't want other people's ideas of morality shoved into my face every day. I can tell when I am being preached to, and I just turn off that particular program for good, and watch something else.

      Some reality shows on cable are very good, maybe some conservatives in the media industry should take note. I enjoy the ones on the history channel: Pickers, where two men go around and find "junk" that may just be antiques. And Pawn Stars, where a family who owns a Pawn Shop in Las Vegas show what it is like in their daily lives, and how they dicker for the best deal.

    3. Ron says:

      Television has gotten so bad that we canceled our cable service. We have top of the line Digital Anetenna at no cost and get 11 local channels. We just could not find anything on cable worth watching accept for very rare exceptions. It is liberal beyond the exreme.

    4. Realist says:

      We gave up on TV six years ago. We do watch a lot of movies from Netflix. The liberal influence is very irritating. I have started to mention the liberal bias that offends me when I review the movies. Not that Follywood cares, but at least I can get a conservative voice heard. Bill Whittle of PJTV has a growing movement to promote conservative values in movies

    5. Tommy Thompson says:

      Todays TV programming is very bad. To much violence, sex, and profanity. Our youth is being
      brain washed, thinking everything is real life, but its all fantasy. Our nations youth are being turned
      into pansies and followers.

    6. Bob says:

      Liberal left Hollywood and the Network took over television and entertainment long before my birth in 1960. They've been pumling our younger folks with what to think, not how to think which is the duty of parents. Meaning we, as parents have a responsibilty to teach our offspring HOW TO THINK. Where as the extreme left what then to their way and only the way of socialized communism!

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