I don’t know what my butcher’s political beliefs are, and I don’t want to know. I pay him for his services and we are both happy. I want the same arrangement with my entertainers.
If my butcher constantly mocked my values, I’d soon take my business elsewhere.
Yet Hollywood regularly mocks conservative values. Me – and a lot of other conservatives in America – are ready to take our business elsewhere.
The entertainment industry’s depictions of various characters and values add up to one message: Conservatives are bad for our country. What does that teach our children about respecting the right to hold dissenting opinions?
When I watch TV, I often cringe at the thought of how many people don’t know they’re being sold a philosophy under the guise of entertainment. Some of it is subtle, such as the passing comment on “Lie to Me” about torture at Guantanámo. Some is blatant, like the pro-liberal values on “Boston Legal,” or when “Saturday Night Live” or another comedy show makes below-the-belt fun of a conservative one time too many.
Look at the way business is portrayed: Hollywood would have us believe that all big businesses are run by heartless men who would kill us with their dangerous products and pollution if they had a chance, all for the sake of earning money.
Drug companies selling overpriced and dangerous drugs, oil companies destroying the environment, banks ripping us off, and manufacturers exploiting workers, all hiding behind high-priced lawyers have become clichés on modern dramas.
When was the last time TV showed big businesses doing what they normally do: give millions to charity, invent groundbreaking products, and create thousands of new jobs? Hollywood behaves as if we need television characters to protect us from the very businesses that employ us.
Consider TV comedies. How often do you see liberals being made fun of, as opposed to conservatives?
Think about what you have heard recently on Jay Leno, David Letterman, Conan O’ Brien, and Jimmy Kimmel about Sarah Palin. Mainstream comedians attack her incessantly. Notice that their jokes are not usually about her positions, but rather they are personal – meant to make a laughingstock out of her. These comedians are molding a public opinion of Palin that insists she is stupid, ignorant, unsophisticated, and dangerous.
Try to recall a comparable barrage of spiteful jokes at the expense of other vice-presidential candidates like Joe Lieberman or Joe Biden – it’s not as easy.
It wasn’t always this way. Comedians of old, such as Bob Hope, made fun of politicians, but he included both sides. Dick Van Dyke also stayed light-hearted.
It’s become normal for conservatives to be portrayed poorly: On “Boston Legal” the main character, Denny Crane, was a composite of just about every negative stereotype of a conservative: he sexually harassed women, carried a gun, and was oblivious to his ignorance. Alec Baldwin’s conservative character on “30 Rock” has similar undesirable qualities.
Furthermore, Hollywood has taken to developing and lauding bad characters with “good” qualities, like the meth-dealing father on “Breaking Bad,” the likable mob boss on the “Sopranos,” or the pot-selling mother on “Weeds.” That is essentially an open attack on the conservative belief that there is right and wrong, because it promotes relativism.
Doesn’t Hollywood realize that a chunk of their customers are conservatives?
Don’t get me wrong, there is balanced entertainment out there: A good example is “24.” Even though the series is often caricatured as a conservative show, it’s actually quite balanced. The hero, Jack Bauer, seems to be conservative, though thankfully you can’t be too sure who he would vote for because his politics are not discussed. The writers use his character to point out the failings of the liberal characters but they also use it to point out the failings of conservatives. The producers seem to understand that while viewers enjoy edgy, they don’t necessarily need or want to see lopsided jabs at liberals and conservatives, they simply want unbiased entertainment.
Unfortunately more and more entertainment is offensive.
Bias, no matter which way it is directed, harms both liberals and conservatives and anyone in between.
Just as we would stop doing business with a butcher who consistently and purposely offended us, we must likewise stop doing business with networks that do the same.
Before boycotting TV, which might not be all that practical, viewers should pay attention to the types of messages that get pushed through seemingly innocuous channels and vote with our clicker.
Another practical step we can take is to send e-mails to the networks and express dissatisfaction when you see bias. Until we let them know that we want and value balance in entertainment, it will be more of the same.
We have to let Hollywood know that by moving from entertaining to promoting a political philosophy, it has forsaken its customers. We can help change that.
Did this essay make you think? Join the conversation on Facebook!