Gotta admit, I’m with my colleague and buddy Ben Howe on this one… with ‘this one’ being defined as A Movement on Fire, which is an upcoming film (maybe) that clearly wishes to be a Tea Party rallying cry, but instead comes across as… well. As Ben put it:
Instead of pulling people into a story that espouses the underlying tenets of liberty, it slaps them across the face with all of the subtlety of a campaign commercial. Rather than taking the viewer along for a first-person view of how our present can develop into their future, the filmmakers opted to skip directly to the bottom of the slippery slope without describing the tumble with enough detail to create a real connection for the viewer.
The plot is pretty straightforward in its narrative: the statists and redistributionists have taken over an unnamed American city, life apparently sucks in response, Our Heroes take to the streets and presumably win. A lot of us saw the- trailers? preview? – of it off and on at CPAC, and – well, I’ll be honest. We reacted to it with the slightly strained smiles that one adopts when somebody shows you something that they worked very hard on, and you don’t want to hurt their feelings. Because, well, perhaps the latter version will be better.
Anyway, Ben wrote this up because he’d like conservatives to make better art – and frankly, so would I. I don’t think that the problem is in the conservatism; after all, I’m a hell of a fellow, a crackerjack writer, AND a card-carrying member of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. I think that the problem is that a lot of people need to learn how to show, not tell. And once they learn how to do it, they need to trust that they can do it. This, of course, is one of the perennial problems of art itself; but when you’re writing stuff that’s perhaps agenda-driven it gets even more important. The bottom line is, if you know what you believe and know why you believe then you won’t have to smear that belief all over the page or screen or audio file. It’ll show up, all on its own.
Shorter Moe Lane: having your politics flavor the art is better than having your art flavor your politics.
PS: As the brilliantly subversive Ratatouille helpfully notes, “Anybody can cook!” does not mean that “Everybody can cook!” Just the way it is; no shame to it. But if you’re one of those people who can’t ‘cook,’ you may be better off finding somebody who more or less agrees with you on things and have him/her do the job. Don’t worry: lots of people make the mistake of thinking that they have to do everything. Dear God, but lots of people make that mistake…