April 07, 2015

Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, Los Angeles

Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, Los Angeles

Source: Shutterstock

Another reason: “€œfaith-based films,”€ a fairly dependable genre, weren”€™t in play for Abe consideration. There were too many atheist libertarians and secular (okay, atheist) Jews in the mix, who privately viewed their cross-wearing and churchgoing fellow Abes as irrational Neanderthals. There was a truce between the pro-religion and anti-religion Abes, but that armistice only survived because no one ever put it to the test.

But the main reason the Abes failed at producing “€œconservative entertainment”€ is a structural flaw within the idea itself. The minute you put any political adjective before “€œentertainment,”€ you”€™ve doomed yourself. This goes for the left as well: “€œThe Green Zone,”€ “€œLions for Lambs,”€ “€œFair Game,”€ “€œIn the Valley of Elah,”€ “€œRendition,”€ “€œRedacted”€…all left-leaning message movies that bombed. “€œAn American Carol”€ was the same “€“ advocacy disguised as entertainment but, you know, without the entertainment part.

So badly did “€œAn American Carol”€ flop that it killed the morale among the Abes to try again. Nick Searcy (of TV’s “€œJustified”€) and I at one point tried to bring to the screen an adaptation of the autobiography of Whittaker Chambers (a better idea than “€œCarol,”€ as the source material was solid), but part of what hampered that project was a lack of awareness among the Abes regarding who Chambers and Hiss were! And if that level of ignorance exists among Hollywood conservatives, well…it would have been a hard sell to the general public.

Successful “€œconservative friendly”€ films are most likely to come from popular source material with a huge following (the Bible, Narnia), from A-listers with the clout to bring pet projects to the screen (Eastwood, Gibson, Parker & Stone), or from inspiring real-life stories (“€œSoul Surfer,”€ “€œThe Blind Side”€). In all cases, the idea is the same: start with a compelling story, and let the “€œmessage”€ emanate organically.

So whenever conservatives go on a tangent about “€œwe need to make some balls-out conservative films,”€ the lessons of the Abes should be remembered. 1) Never start with your message and work backwards; 2) movies constructed by committee when one half of the committee sees the other half as incurably superstitious morons are doomed from the start; and 3) for God’s sake, close the bar at some point during the writing workshops.


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