The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

19 May 2005

New Films Become Instant Political Debates

What 'Star Wars' Really Reveals

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, - 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?

I also examined a number of other articles today on the subject and found all of them to be talk-radio free. Some, of course, are very slanted to the left.

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.


  • I'm confused, first you say that talk radio is behind because it didn't cover the political biases in Star Wars and then you say that it is useless to do so. My question is, could it be that talk radio found this unnewsworthy just as you have?

    By Blogger RUMPLEMINTZ, at 19 May, 2005 15:23  

  • I guess I partly agree with you. I certainly partake in enough "mainstream" entertainment, not to be holier than thou.

    But I think it is a matter of degree. If an entertainer says one or two things against conservatives then it can just be ignored. But if they are constantly on the attack, then I just don't watch them.

    I haven't watched a Jane Fonda movie since "the China Syndrome", and the only reason I saw that movie was because we watched it in a high school class. I had no choice.

    I have never seen a full episode of "West Wing". If a show is overtly left wing, I usually don't enjoy it.

    With songs, if it is left wing, some times I can change the song around to fit me personally. I love the song "Eve of Destruction" because of the lyric "you don't believe in war, what's that gun you're totin'"

    Yeah, liberals you don't believe in war Except in Bosnia. Except the Russians in Afghanstan, etc.

    I would love for someone to re-write the lyrics "Sympathy for the Devil" and call it "Sympathy for a liberal" instead. It would go into all the historical evils that liberals have supported over the generations.

    Their early support of Stalin. Their support for Castro. Their support of the Soviet Union. Their support of the Rosenbergs even though they were guity as sin and helped the Soviets get nukes, etc, etc, up to the point where they saw our fellow Americans being forced to either jump to their deaths or be burned alive and all they could think of at that moment was "aren't the terrorists brave".

    Please to meet you, have you guessed my name? But what is puzzling you is the nature of my game.

    Well after looking at the so called liberals "game" over several generations, it doesn't puzzle me anymore. They are evil. They are simply evil. Once you understand that you are not surprised at what they do.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 19 May, 2005 15:29  

  • Talk radio is very much on this issue today, the point is that the media thinks conservative bloggers and other Internet types are more worthy of their coverage.

    In the past, talk radio hosts owned these debates, now they have to settle for scraps of attention while blogs and other sites take the buzz away.

    I'm not saying Star Wars isn't newsworthy, it's that conservatives don't want to look like whiners, when there's nothing we can do about Star Wars anyway.

    By Blogger Brian Maloney, at 19 May, 2005 15:30  

  • Pleased to meet you
    Hope you guessed my name, oh yeah
    But what’s puzzling you
    Is the nature of my game, oh yeah, get down, baby
    Pleased to meet you
    Hope you guessed my name, oh yeah
    But what’s confusing you
    Is just the nature of my game
    Just as every cop is a criminal
    And all the sinners saints
    As heads is tails
    Just call me a liberal
    ’cause I’m in need of some restraint

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 19 May, 2005 15:36  

  • It is time that we hold entertainers accountable for what they say and do politically because unfortunately they do have some influence over what a large segment of the public thinks.

    Talk radio and blogs can serve that purpose.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 19 May, 2005 15:39  

  • ...Is just the nature of my game

    Just as every cop is a criminal
    And all the sinners saints
    As heads is tails
    Just call me a liberal
    ’cause I’m in need of some restraint

    This describes the liberals so perfectly.

    They do see all cops as criminals.
    They see that with our military too (al la Newsweek).

    Some of the biggest perverts they hold up as heroes.

    For them heads is tails, and tails is heads depending on if it serves their purposes or noy. Depending on what "is is" for them at the moment. Truth means nothing to them.

    And I have no sympathy for the liberal devils as they have cause so much damage, pain, and death over the years. And continue to today.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 19 May, 2005 15:44  

  • This battle is about what should be said and who best to communicate it.

    By the way, right now I'm listening to Sinatra.

    By Blogger Brian Maloney, at 19 May, 2005 15:53  

  • "This battle is about what should be said and who best to communicate it."

    Brian, what does that mean? I'm still a bit confused about what your issue is with talk radio? Are you disappointed that the bloggers are breaking the story before Limbaugh? The bloggers will always get this information first, we are at this 24/7, Limbaugh is on for only 3 hours a day.

    By the way, I'm a hedge fund manager so I listen to talk radio over the computer every day.

    7:30-11:00 Boortz
    11:00-2:00 Limbaugh
    2:00-5:00 Medved, but today KRLA won't work so it's Hannity
    5:00-7:00 Mark Levin

    I then have subscriptions to Gallagher, Beck, and Ingraham to listen to later at night. I guess you could call me a talk radio junkie.

    By Blogger RUMPLEMINTZ, at 19 May, 2005 16:21  

  • Rumplemintz:

    The issue is about who's getting the attention of others, talk radio or bloggers, and the answer is the latter, in this case.

    In the past, talk radio owned topics like these, even created them, not that's not true.

    That kind of attention matters very much, it indicates who's making a splash and who isn't.

    By Blogger Brian Maloney, at 19 May, 2005 16:37  

  • A hearty and sincere THANK YOU, Brian.
    Lucas knows what side his bread's buttered on, but I think the real focus is where you put it: sniveling socons on radio seeing their ship sinking, and looking for something to bash in order to distract themselves from the reality that their 15 minutes of fame are over.
    They've been over since talk radio shows lost their humor and became nothing but bitch-fests.

    By Blogger Galt-in-Da-Box, at 19 May, 2005 18:53  

  • The reason that the radio talk shows are failing is that all to many of them are beholden to the Republican Party and will not criticize a Republican when he or she does something liberal.

    Conservative radio talkshows (as opposed to Republican raio talk shows) are still having great success.

    As Bush become more and more liberal and as the talk shows continue to ignore and even justify what he is doing, the talkshows will continue to see declines in its listenership.

    And programs like the Savage Nation will continue to increase in popularity.

    Wait until the CAFTA debate starts up. Republican talk shows will see big declines in listenership then.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 19 May, 2005 20:34  

  • Sometimes Hannity will criticize Bush for his stand on immigration--and Howie Carr usually does.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 20 May, 2005 02:36  

  • Anonymous'(8:34pm) post sounds like a Michael Savage transcript.

    But despite Savage's doublespeak, his national ratings are also down. Even in his beloved San Francisco, flagship station KNEW has sunk to 1.1, barely ahead of the local Air America fiasco.

    On his website, Savage cleverly posts numbers from a few markets. But he omits nearly all the biggies where the audiences are small and getting smaller.

    It is ironic that Savage claims that he will be the only talk show host that survives in a post-election environment when Rush has lasted 17 years and Hannity nearly 10 in New York and National. If anybody will not survive without hot button politics, it will be Savage. Talking about his dog Teddy is hardly "more "stimulating talk radio!"

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 20 May, 2005 11:53  

  • Bloggers... Yeah, they're the future of uhh.... News. Sure thing. Why would anyone with an ounce of sense consider the opinion of a blogger as anything other than opinion. We all know what opinions are...

    Miya Buttreaks

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 20 May, 2005 16:11  

  • Ummmm, it's a little difficult to read blogs like this while working or driving my car. Talk Radio has a place and a time and will survive.

    By Blogger Calvus, at 21 May, 2005 14:51  

  • I finally saw the Star Wars movie and I did catch the one time where I believed Lucus was trying to make a contempory political statement, and boy was it clumsy. It was so clumsy that it contradicted the movie itself.
    It was jarring and out of place, like someone just used the delete key at that part of the script and deleted what the dialogue that was supposed to be there and cut and pasted the political statement instead. I don't want to give away the plot of the movie so if you haven't seen in then don't read on, but the part of the movie where I believe that Lucus was attempting to make a contemporary political statement when he had Anakin Skywalker say to Obi Wan you are either against me or with me and Obi Wan responded by saying that only a Sith would think in such absolutist terms. But in the movie itself every time Anakin strayed away from the absolute dogma of the Jedi to a more relativist thinking (hey the dark side isn't necessary "wrong" it is just another perspective) that was when everything started falling apart. In a way, Anakin was like a typical liberal. He allowed emotion to overpower his logic. My favorite quote from the movie that reminded me so much of how liberals are was when Obi Won said to Anakin that the Sith were evil (an absolutist statement if I ever heard one) and Anakin said that to him it seemed like the Jedi are the evil ones. And to that Obi Won responded that if you believe this, then you are lost. It really made me think of all the liberals out there who think America is evil. America may not be perfect, but if you compare us to our enemies and then think we are the evil ones, then you are as lost as Anakinn was, Darth Liberals!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 30 May, 2005 22:11  

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