New Films Become Instant Political Debates
Reaction Indicates Media's Who's Who, Talk Radio Hurting
Picking apart film releases for political overtones has become an American cottage industry, with media types tripping over their grandmothers, to be first to attack the latest release on cable talk shows.
Two more important elements have emerged, however, that overshadow film content analysis:
--- How "Star Wars" reveals, in its critical reactions, the new media's pecking order.
--- Secondly, the need to look at whether conservatives should really be picking films apart frame-by-frame, looking for bias.
Michael Savage has been talking about just how fast the media landscape is changing, how a scorecard is necessary for keeping track of the constantly evolving circumstances.
It's true- it's no longer about the "new" media (talk radio) overtaking the "old" (print publications), now it's the newer media, meaning bloggers, Internet publications, podcasters and others, taking the reins from a deeply troubled talk radio industry.
Some cable talk shows are in the "new-new" category and others are in the long-dead realm.
And the media analysis of "Star Wars" has been a two-by-four-over-the-head reality check, with talk radio mostly deemed irrelevant to the discussion so far, where bloggers and media industry sites have picked up the slack.
Savage knows talk radio is in decline, but he doesn't think his own show is part of the problem (that's another debate), he's dead-on in how rapidly we're seeing the change.
After all, it was just a few months ago that talk radio led and dominated the debate over "Million Dollar Baby" and its supposed liberal message. Was Clint Eastwood injecting a leftist slant into his film?
This time, talk radio is ignored. The elephant in the room is in today's New York Times piece:
¶Conservative Web logs were lacerating Mr. Lucas over the film's perceived jabs at President Bush - as when Anakin Skywalker, on his way to becoming the evil Darth Vader, warns, "If you're not with me, you're my enemy," in an echo of Mr. Bush's post-9/11 ultimatum, "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists."
¶A little-trafficked conservative Web site about film, Pabaah.com - for "Patriotic Americans Boycotting Anti-American Hollywood" - added Mr. Lucas to its list of boycotted entertainers, along with more than 200 others, including Jane Fonda, Susan Sarandon, Sean Penn and the Dixie Chicks.
¶Even the Drudge Report Web site got into the act: beneath a picture of Darth Vader, it compared the White House press corps to the vengeful Sith, after reporters peppered a press secretary for pressing Newsweek magazine to "repair the damage" in the Muslim world caused by a retracted report about desecration of the Koran.
Lots of conservatives referenced here, but none are radio talk show hosts. Is it a case of media bias?
No, sadly, it simply doesn't occur to critics to include increasingly boring, stale, irrelevant talk radio hosts in this mix. Why, when there are exciting things happening on the Internet- lively, rapidly growing blogs and other websites?
Who would you look to-- where the action is, or where increasingly crusty, out-of-touch, future Larry Kings dwell on the broadcast band?
Even if a few talk show hosts appear on cable programs in the next few days, my point still stands: the new pecking order is obvious. The best talk radio can hope for now is to follow behind in the back of the parade, while the new guys and gals lead the fight.
At the same time, especially interesting, is how utterly irrelevant liberal talk radio is in yet another national debate. They've all but vanished from the scene.
I had hoped my recent WorldNetDaily piece would serve as a wake-up call to the industry. It did receive a lot of attention, including in broadcast trades, but I underestimated how stubborn and determined the industry is to stick with what isn't working, even as ratings sink.
Just as important is whether searching George Lucas films for political bias is a smart idea for conservatives.
Remember that the last Star Wars installation was full of references and a character, Jar-Jar The Idiot, that leftists and so-called civil rights groups found racist. Now it's our side whining about Lucas's obvious attempt at reconcilation with liberals?
This fight isn't worth it. We aren't going to change the film's content now and it won't stop Hollywood's liberals from making the next loaded movie.
Will it keep moviegoers away? No, you're either a Star Wars fan or you're not, a few political references aren't going to matter.
Yesterday, the CD playing in my car was Sting's live "Bring On The Night" recording, from twenty years ago and full of anti-Thatcher tirades that just don't hold water in historical hindsight. But I still like the music, arrogant as it is, the politics just don't matter.
I didn't agree with the "Million Dollar Baby" fight, either, I thought it was a career stunt for a talk show host, at the expense of the conservative movement. Regardless of what was in that film, the last person to accuse of having a liberal slant is Eastwood.
Having worked in Californian political campaigns, Eastwood has always been reliable for GOP support and I thought the attacks were rather unfair. He's a sensible guy, with a populist "looking out for the little guy" approach, that isn't out of tune with our philosophy.
If conservatives can't do much about the situation, then is this fight worth it, when we have important ongoing battles over judicial nominees, spending, taxation, illegal immigration, etc.? Do we come across as whiners, no matter how overt Lucas's clumsy anti-Bush references appear?
I don't know if talk radio can be saved before more irrepairable damage is done, but conservatives certainly do have time to step back and ponder whether this is the most important battle to take on at this time.