Conservatives are mad as heck that corporate executives and other "heroes" of free enterprise are mocked incessantly in popular culture — and they've got a strategy to make things right.
That's the message delegates of the Manning Networking Conference heard this weekend in Ottawa, just before liberal Hollywood converged upon Beverly Hills Sunday for the Oscars.
You can be forgiven if you thought the reason corporate execs were the targets of satire had something to do with the gap between rich and poor, a quest for profit that can trample over social, economic and environmental concerns, or even just good old fashioned greed and excess. No, no, no. The real problem here are those pesky cartoons and characters and the lefties that write the material!
But worry not — conservatives are laying out plans to "recapture popular culture and the arts." The strategy, presented by Adam Guillette of the Moving Picture Institute to Canadian conservativates at the Manning Centre weekend gabfest, is about turning the tables on those quinoa-loving artsy-types so our plutocratic elites can finally be presented in the way that they deserve: as "underdogs" and "heroes."
Finally! It's about time!
Moving Picture Institute, an organization aligned to the American Tea Party movement and had Elizabeth Koch (wife of billionaire Charles Koch) as a founding board member, has ambitious plans to "promote freedom through film." By "embracing emotion and storytelling" and training a new generation of right-wing filmmakers, screenwriters and stand-up comedians, "free enterprise enthusiasts" can spread their message of unfettered capitalism.
Here are a few specifics served up by Guillette to his Canadian audience:
- Liberal Hollywood elites (a cabal of radical, millionaire pinkos that count Steven Spielberg, Matt Damon and Canadian darling Ellen Page among their ranks) are conspiring to use popular culture to demonize corporations and push anti-capitalist messages on North Americans.
- Business-types are too often depicted as "evil villains" (here, Guillette took square aim at Dr. Seuss' The Lorax) and the only way conservatives can reframe the debate is by recasting evil, villainous business-types as "underdogs."
- He told the audience of Canadian conservatives they need to "create heroes" — identify regular people who are "authentic" and "apolitical," real salt of the earth characters with "sympathetic" stories that can be "used" to portray the virtues of free enterprise in a positive light. As a case in point, Guillette pointed to an MPI backed documentary titled "Dog Days" that "uses" the story of a single-mother Eritrean refugee ("you can't get more underdog than that," he told the crowd) who tries to make it in America as a hot dog vendor but struggles with "regulatory strangulation" by City Hall.
- MPI is spending money to "create an army" of conservative filmmakers and viral video producers.
- MPI is trying to flood the internet (think "free streaming documentaries" websites) with libertarian propaganda to set the record straight about unregulated markets.
- MPI actively seeks out and identifies promising right-wing students in film schools and funds their projects.
- The MPI's "Hollywood Career Launch" program is designed to make sure conservatives are well-represented in the next generation of Hollywood (or create their own Hollywood). The institute pays young, aspiring right-wing filmmakers, and offers their labour to production companies as unpaid interns. Guillette bragged that they had interns in the production companies of Johnny Depp, Adam Sandler, Lions Gate Entertainment and the Disney Channel (who accept their interns not necessarily because they're ideologically aligned with MPI, he pointed out, but because they're willing to accept unpaid interns). The goal is to make sure that ones getting experience in Hollywood's film industry are young right-wing filmmakers.
Here's a video clip of Guillette in action: