Remember the Late Night Wars?
Letterman vs. Leno was the grudge match for the ages. They even made a movie about the dueling talk-show titans.
Today, late-night comedians pal around on stages and podcasts, putting competition aside for what they see as the greater good.
Survival, for starters.
Late-night revenue and ratings are spiraling downward, and the format may go the way of the 8-track tape. More importantly, a strong late-night lineup lets liberals smite the Right five days a week.
They’re on the same team, and they realize the power of their progressive messaging. It’s also why any left-leaning piece of art, from “The Comey Rule” to the latest Michael Moore film, earns copious coverage in the mainstream media.
The number of fawning stories about Hulu’s “The 1619 Project” is a glaring, grade-A example.
How are conservatives responding? Infighting. Isolationism. Ignorance. It’s a disaster, especially for the rare, right-leaning artist hoping to promote his or her work.
The Left maintains a strong, unified cultural front. The Right has nothing of the sort.
Consider the case of John Nolte, senior writer at Breitbart News. His new novel, “Borrowed Time,” is a smart, sophisticated tale with his conservative DNA baked into it. It never preaches, but the novel reflects his traditional worldview.
The story follows Joshua Mason, an immortal man whose curse is knowing everyone he ever loves will grow old and die while he keeps on living. “Borrowed Time” examines love, sacrifice and the encroaching techno-Nanny State, hinted at in the book’s singular phrase, the “All at Once.”
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It’s the perfect example of excellent, right-leaning art, the kind in such short supply. Yet Nolte told The Hollywood in Toto Podcast in an upcoming episode that his book publisher reached out to roughly 100 right-leaning media sources to see if they could interview the author and, by extension, promote the book.
Two replied. Two. Out of 100.
Robert Davi knows the feeling.
The legendary “Goonies” and “License to Kill” star directed “My Son Hunter” last year, a serio-comic X-ray of the embattled First Son. No one in Hollywood would touch the subject, so Davi teamed with Phelim McAleer and Breitbart News to bring the tale to small screens everywhere.
The film has only grown in stature given all we’ve learned over the past year about the Biden crime hustle. “My Son Hunter” stars Lawrence Fox as the troubled Hunter Biden, a film skewering both the man’s personal demons and his corrupt Capitol Hill presence.
Except Davi told the Pop Culture Warriors podcast he didn’t get much help in the promotional department, particularly from Right-leaning news outlets and conservative politicians.
“Here’s this film a conservative does, and we get it out there somewhat nicely. Yet each week, as something else is unfolding that’s in our story, you’d think they’d say, ‘let’s show a clip from the film, let’s dramatize it and go support ‘My Son Hunter’ the way they did ‘Sound of Freedom.'” Davi said of the Angel Studios’ hit. “There’s a jealousy in terms of not promoting anybody else’s material.”
Ironically, “My Son Hunter” earned plenty of (negative) press from mainstream outlets but modest coverage in right-leaning venues.
The problem extends throughout the GOP and its constituents, and it needs to stop, the actor/director warns.
“Culture has a more lasting effect than a blurb on something. Also, celebrate your artists who are courageous enough to do something. Lift us up,” Davi said. “If it was Alec Baldwin you bet your ass the Left would be piping that out every single day.”
Pop Culture Warriors co-host Brett R. Smith, a veteran illustrator, added his perspective to Davi’s comments.
“A lot of conservative influencers and talking heads …they’re just not very good at highlighting, promoting and celebrating the artists on our side,” said Smith, the prolific artist behind “Clinton Cash” and other right-leaning projects. “I think they’re getting better as more and more of us create [art] and get it out there. There needs to be more emphasis on the artists because we are the people who are going to be able to reach out to all of those ‘Normies’ in the middle of the country who are nonpolitical, apolitical, and who haven’t been influenced. We are the gateway to those people. And if we can influence them and change their hearts and minds, then they’re voting.”
Blaze Media recently “went Hollywood” with its first indie feature, “Re-Opening.” The comedy followed a hapless theatrical company putting on a performance at the height of the pandemic. The film proved smart, funny and brimming with satirical body blows against pandemic overreach.
No lectures. Plenty of sly observations about government overreach.
Deadline.com, a far-Left entertainment outlet, reported on the film’s acquisition. And that’s more or less it, coverage-wise.
Blaze Media’s “Normal World,” a right-leaning podcast/sketch comedy showcase also generated little conservative press. StudioJake Media was a welcome exception.
We’ve seen a few right-leaning projects defy this narrative.
The media landscape, both Left and Right, gave copious coverage to “Rich Men North of Richmond,” the breakout Oliver Anthony track that savaged the political status quo. Anthony, for what it’s worth, rejected the “conservative” label after GOP politicians weighed in on his song.
By comparison, right-leaning rapper Tom MacDonald draws little conservative media attention for his chart-topping tracks shredding corrupt media outlets and Identity Politics.
Author and podcaster Andrew Klavan shared why conservatives must create art in today’s culture. The best artists can turn their experiences into powerful narratives that connect with more than just their ideological friends.
Stories, for example, about Big Tech censorship and careers crushed for not espousing the “right” point of view.
The author of the upcoming “The House of Love and Death” recalled how he lost his Hollywood screenwriting career for not preaching from the progressive choir.
“It is a story, it is a thing that happened to me, and it didn’t feel great … I knew I was doing the right thing, and so I did it,” said Klavan, who previously shared in the same podcast episode how blacklisted screenwriters in the 1950s poured their persecution stories into magnificent art like “High Noon” and “On the Waterfront.”
“If we don’t learn to tell our stories. If we don’t support the people who tell stories [emphasis added], if we don’t make sure the inner experience of what the Left has done to us becomes everyone’s experience, then we’ll never be able to change minds. It doesn’t matter what laws we pass,” Klavan said.
Documentary filmmaker Michael Pack wrote a compelling op-ed for Real Clear Politics about the need for conservatives to make movies and not fight the Culture Wars from the sidelines.
Pack spoke to The Hollywood in Toto Podcast about his new Palladium Pictures and how it’s teaching the next generation of right-leaning storytellers. He summed up why conservatives need to pick up some cameras, and fast, in that fiery op-ed.
Conservatives complain that they are losing the culture wars. And they are right. That won’t change until conservatives actually produce culture, which would be good for everyone. American culture would be enriched by art made by artists with diverse viewpoints and experiences.
That art needs a cheering section, too, something conservative media too often ignores. Without it, the conservative culture offensive may end before it begins.