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The Bad, the Good and the Ugly

The media-cultural scene is exploding right now, with so many significant developments we can't write about just one.  Instead, we're touching on three stories, ranging from very good to very bad to just plain awful, because of the insights they offer about the media's role in shaping our culture.


Let's begin with the bad.  Hollywood has been openly promoting homosexuality at least since 1997, when Ellen DeGeneres publicly declared her “orientation,” and the entertainment networks jumped on the bandwagon by inserting homosexual characters into their shows.  This year, the Tinseltown campaign to persuade Americans that homosexuality is healthy and normal has reached unprecedented heights, or depths, depending on how you look at it. 


As CMI's Colleen Raezler reports in her new Eye on Culture study, “Lavender Propaganda,” the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) is crowing that “the 2008-2009 television season contains a record number of homosexual, bisexual or transgendered characters,” more than double the number from last year.  We're up to 35 characters spread across 21 series.  Fourteen of these series are aired between 8 and 10 p.m., which includes the “family hour.”


GLAAD isn't crowing alone – they're backed by a sizable media chorus.  Raezler cites “news” reports from CBS, Reuters, People magazine, ABC, the New York Times and CNN singing Hollywood's praises for advancing “equality” or “inclusiveness” or whatever.  The word they ought to be using is “desensitization.”  One of the principal gay activist political strategies is to flood the nation with sympathetic portrayals of homosexuality, and to suppress any depictions of people overcoming this particular temptation. The media are marching in lockstep with this approach.


These “news” reports fail to explore what the public really needs to know: Would accepting homosexuality be good or bad for individuals, families and society as a whole?   


On to the good.  In movie theaters, Americans clearly voted with their wallets for good values over questionable ones.


This weekend's box office top 10 contains three movies devoted to promoting certain cultural ideas.  Of the three, the public preferred the two commendable flicks – Fireproof and An American Carol, which together grossed $7,879,000.


Despite heavy hyping by the news media, as documented by CMI's Kristen Fyfe, Bill Maher's Religulous laid an egg.  Maher's assault on religious faith barely made the Top 10 list, squeaking into the No. 10 slot with a take of $3,500,000.  More Americans watched the ninth-ranked An American Carol, a star-studded parody of Michael Moore that celebrates patriotism.  Even more chose to see eighth-ranked Fireproof, the latest low-budget, faith-affirming success produced by a Baptist church from Georgia.


How frustrating it must be for movie moguls to watch the public turn up its nose at the progressive Religulous, preferring a conservative film produced for a measly half a million bucks by a flock of volunteer fundamentalists!  Especially when Fireproof received almost no free media and had to make do with a marketing budget smaller than a Hollywood blockbuster's catering bill.


Finally, the ugly.  Our nation's civic virtues appear to be in serious decline, and Big Media is promoting the decay. 


American politics for decades have been a battle over values: the traditional values of self-reliance, moral self-control and God-given equality that animated our Founding Fathers, against a collectivist, morally self-indulgent, leader-seeking ideology imported from foreign shores. 


We used to teach our children that government was a useful servant but a fearful master, as George Washington warned us.  We relied on ourselves, our families and our churches, not on a government controlled by a charismatic leader.  In consequence, cults of personality were alien to us.  Now we see a cult of personality in full flower, with the media casting aside any objectivity in their adulation of Barack Obama. 


Even more scary, yesterday the Drudge Report showed the world a video of Kansas City junior high school students chillingly called the “Obama Youth.”  We watch boys clad uniformly in camouflage pants and dark T-shirts declare, fists clenched, that “because of Obama” they can become chemical engineers, scientists or mechanics.  The teacher who furnished the video to the local Fox TV station has now been suspended – not for using public funds to teach the kids to worship Obama, but for allowing the video to be seen in public. 


Another YouTube video, “Sing for Change for Obama,” shows a choir of California grade schoolers, directed by adults, singing about the hope instilled in them by Obama. A YouTube send up of the video has renamed it “Sing for Change for Obama, Dear Leader,” pointing up the parallel to the object of the world's most oppressive cult of personality, dictator Kim Jong Il of North Korea.


Now, to tie these three stories together.  In college I worked for an aged Armenian lady who was a child when the Red Army conquered her native land.  She told me that the Communists didn't bother with the adults as long as they didn't resist Soviet rule.  The commissars focused instead on indoctrinating the schoolchildren, because they represented the future.


I also studied in Germany, and lived with a German family whose mother and father had both been members of the Hitler Youth.  The mother told me about the immense social pressure exerted on her by teachers and peers to commit herself to Adolph Hitler.


Don't get me wrong. I am not comparing Obama to Hitler. I am merely suggesting that some propaganda techniques in use today are cause for great concern.  While many adults are resisting Hollywood's efforts to impose radical values, as suggested by their preference for movies that promote patriotism and religion, some schoolchildren are being taught to worship the leader. The media's shameful, one-sided coverage of Barack Obama is not far removed from the worshipful videos of star-struck kids.    


Defenders of traditional values need to understand that the battle for the country will be won not by the side that prevails in today's political squabbles, but by the side that captures the imagination of the generation to come.