Sam Sorbo’s Washington Times Op-ed on Conservatives & Culture

August 10, 2019

Sam Sorbo, film producer, screenwriter, actress, and friend of The Steamboat Institute, wrote the op-ed below in The Washington Times calling on conservatives to engage in cultural pursuits like Hollywood to make the lasting societal change they desire. Read the op-ed HERE or pasted below.

Why Conservatives Must Engage in Hollywood

Conservatives have toiled for decades at countless think tanks across the nation trying to influence public policy and public opinion in their direction. They’ve funded political candidates at great expense. The results have been middling at best. Despite some recent successes under President Trump such as tax cuts and deregulation, society’s general march toward bigger government continues. Recent polling finds that a majority of millennials and Democrats prefer socialism — full governmental control of the economy — to capitalism. It seems like only a matter of time before some type of government-run health care system is implemented, despite such socialized systems not being able to pass in liberal states like Vermont or California. Why does the size of government only seem to grow, with conservative victories merely coming in fits and starts? One major reason is that liberals dominate culture, which has a much more profound impact on people’s worldview than policy analysis. Culture, and entertainment specifically, taps into people’s emotions, reaching a deeper level of the brain than rational appeals that usually don’t penetrate the frontal cortex. Societal pillars such as academia, education, journalism, media, literature, pop culture and high arts are now overwhelmingly liberal, churning out creative leftist messages to impressionable audiences. Nowhere is this domination more complete than in Hollywood, as I experience firsthand as a conservative actress, producer and screenwriter. Nearly every major motion picture — this uniquely American form of culture — is seeded directly or indirectly with liberal messages that impel the perspectives of audiences decidedly toward the left. If conservatives want to reverse the juggernaut of the leftist agenda, the long march through the institutions, they must commit to engaging in cultural spheres even more than they do in intellectual ones — as government education has produced generations conditioned to responding emotionally rather than rationally to issues of the day. Doing so will help convince people of the morality — not just the practicality — of conservative public policy. Conservatives looking to engage culturally face many hurdles. Start with the fact that conservatives don’t generally enter the arts or other traditionally creative fields. Research from Southern Illinois University finds that conservatives are less likely to engage in creative pursuits, preferring to pursue careers in more objective fields such as business, finance or science. Then there’s the fact that for many years, conservatives have viewed Hollywood simply as an enemy. In the early 1990s, conservative commentator Michael Medved wrote the best-selling book “Hollywood vs. America: Popular Culture and the War on Traditional Values.” It argued that Hollywood’s themes were antithetical to American ideals and harming society as a whole, turning many conservatives off Hollywood altogether. Another problem has been that when conservatives do engage creatively, the product itself has often been mediocre. Though we may agree with the principles in many conservative movies, audiences generally haven’t found the stories or production quality compelling. Case in point: Several years ago, National Review ranked the 25 best conservative movies of the past generation. The results spoke for themselves. Movies such as “Ghostbusters,” “The Dark Knight” and “Team America: World Police” made the list. These were not exactly Oscar candidates, let alone true counterparts of conservatism’s proud intellectual corpus. But they were, at least, a start. The dearth of conservative Hollywood films is beginning to end. My husband — Kevin Sorbo, well-known from “Hercules” and “God’s Not Dead” — and I have recently produced the critically acclaimed conservative film “Let There Be Light,” and his career spans several others, like “What If.” And we are not the only ones. But while Hollywood seems to be paying attention, it’s in the independent film production sphere where true adherence to conservative values in film can thrive. Our latest release, “Miracle in East Texas,” due out early 2020, is inspired by the true story of two conmen, the biggest oil strike in history during the Great Depression and the miracles that happened along the way. There’s even a new film festival held by The Steamboat Institute each summer in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, as part of the organization’s annual Freedom Conference. This year’s event, which takes place Aug. 22-24, features our latest film as well as several other compelling films that celebrate individual freedom, personal responsibility, the entrepreneurial American spirit, and the inspiration of faith and family through film. But for these conservative film efforts to be successful, individual conservatives must support them. That means going back to the movies and making the pilgrimage to Steamboat Springs this summer. Such support will lead more conservatives to pursue careers in film and culture, which can finally create a lasting change in public policy that we all desire. As Andrew Breitbart famously said, “Politics is downstream from culture.” It’s time for conservatives to swim upstream. • Sam Sorbo is a film producer, screenwriter and actress. She will be appearing at the Steamboat Institute’s Film Festival, Aug. 22-24, in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. 

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