Guest Author - Tracey-Kay Caldwell
After the Golden Globe awards, Tucker Carlson, of MSNBC’s The Situation (1/17/06), complained that Hollywood was stealthily, under the cover of art, promoting a liberal agenda. He sited in his example, Brokeback Mountain, which received Best Drama, Best Screenplay, Best Original Song, and Best Director; TransAmerica, which won Best Actress in a Drama; and Commander and Chief, for which Gena Davis won Best Actress in a TV drama. Tucker feels that “Hollywood should give up its mission as a … evangelist for a political persuasion, and just shut up and make the movie.”
First, does Tucker really believe Hollywood is the first to use art to promote a political point? Art is often a commentary on society. In societies without free speech, art can be a way to subtlety criticize the government. All one has to do is look at the great works of literature; they frequently have a sub context that criticizes the attitudes and powers institutionalized in society. Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying was a condemnation of the southern aristocracy. D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover legitimized embracing sexual passion as a way of coping with the cold, conventional values of industrial society. The examination and criticism of social and political issues as always been one role played by art.
Second, I do not think Tucker is really upset that its stealth, sneaky, subversive. Conservatives have no problem with stealth, sneaky and subversive methods of promoting their own agenda. I think what really upsets Tucker is that the liberals in Hollywood do it better than conservatives do. When conservatives make programming, they do not trust mainstream America to get the message if it is only a sub context to the entertainment. They hit the audience over the head with the message and turnoff mainstream America in the process. The end result being they only preach to the choir. Liberals make good entertainment; leaving the agenda to be a subtle sub context to the main purpose, creating entertainment people want to see. The box office sales and rating of liberal themed entertainment prove this point.
Tucker wants liberals in Hollywood to stop using art to promote their agenda, because it works. He is afraid if American’s watch Brokeback Mountain, TransAmerica, or Commander and Chief , they might be exposed to new ideas, start to think for themselves, and embrace more liberal values.