Who is Ladd Ehlinger Jr, you ask? He's the guy behind the Dale Peterson campaign ad, viewed by all right-thinking people as the greatest political commercial ever. Check it out.
Anyhoo, AceofSpades gets a great interview from Ehlinger. In a wide-ranging discussion, Ace and the filmmaker talk about everything from the nature of artists to the difference between TV ads and internet spots.
This exchange was really interesting.
Ace: Is there any danger you see of a ghettoization sort of effect, where conservative artists are doing expressly conservative art? And only that, and are engaged in a parallel media universe but not the main media universe?
Ehlinger: I don't think the main media universe has much longer to live. So it doesn't matter. Everything is fracturing and falling apart. The smart money realizes that and is doing what it can now to build a brand before it's impossible to do so any longer.
Ace: I've read a lot that tv's model is unsustainable but there aren't many good alternatives. you mean like that? magazines and newspapers first, then tv, then Hollywood?
Ehlinger: It'll devolve into national tribes. Online tribes. Like your website. And then no one will make any money anymore.
Ace: to some extent I think that's sort of the case now but one tribe -- the one that dominates the media -- won't concede it's tribal even after it consistently goes out of the way to insult the other tribes. You ever watch a movie with no political content at all, just about a human story, and then, pow, out of nowhere, some [conservative-baiting] insult? it's like -- what was doing there? Did they WANT 30% of the audience to walk out badmouthing it?
Ehlinger: Well, it's a case of the cool kids in high school... they eventually get fat, turn into drunks, and get DUI's when they get older. That is their collective media career destinies.
Ya gotta read the whole piece. It is truly elucidating stuff. Seriously. Go now.
Re: Conservative art-I'll be honest. This has troubled me for a while. Maybe not 'troubled', but it's an issue that has certainly puzzled me.
It's sorta obvious that the old media paradigm...a liberal monopoly that runs the big TV networks/large newspapers/national glossy magazines/La-La Land...is circling the drain. For instance, 2008 was probably (hopefully) the last election where MSNBC, The New York Times and a raft of music industry hacks could simply pick up a left-wing presidential candidate and carry his butt across the finish line.
I've basically viewed the crack-up of the old-skool media environment as a good thing. But a part of me has been concerned about what Ace calls ghettoization. What happens when there is no national news/entertainment culture? Do we Balkanize?
First, there's pretty much nothing anybody can do about it, so there's really no point in fretting about it too much. It's almost like worrying about the Sun being hot. Best to get over it and deal with the consequences of any potential Balkanization when/if it occurs.
Now, if the breakdown of the media universe we inhabit is inevitable, then the idea of conservative art has to be entertained. The vast anti-statist/pro-free market tribe is going to need culture. It'll need cultural artifacts like songs, novels and dramatic works. As Ehlinger said, right-wing documentaries have their place, but they're not enough.
Conservatives should do what they can to support right-of-center art and artists. The creators are going to need money in order to...you know...eat. It's one thing to make a great short-length Obama satire that gets thrown onto DailyMotion and has a million views. It's another thing to actually get paid to do creative stuff.
In the long run, how is this all going to play out? I really don't know. The outlines of the new media paradigm are only just starting to form. But in a lot of ways, it'll be better for the Right than it has been in 50 years. Listening to guys like Ladd Ehlinger Jr., one gets a sense of the great possibilities that are available to conservative artists right now.
Before I brain-cramp: I sorta beefed on the whole Balkanization line I was toying with. As I was thinking about it some more I realized I hadn't really explained myself very well.
An interesting facet of the old media environment was that it had created a national culture of sorts. Remember that until the early 80's there were only three TV networks, talk radio was lost in the sauce of the Fairness Doctrine and there were large nationwide systems for distributing movies and music. Thus if you were a consumer of mass culture, you were basically seeing or hearing or watching what everybody else did.
But what did people do before there was a national media culture? There were regional tastes that determined what people did to entertain themselves. Music and musicians patronized in the South was different than what people tended to like in places like New York City or Massachusetts.
My feeling is that once the nationwide system that reigned from the late 1940's till the late 1980's finally drifts into obsolescence, we will see a renaissance of the older more separated cultures. They will be less determined by location and more organized by tastes, age and yes, political ideology.
It will be quite different than what many people are used to. But as I stated before, it could result in a new flowering of right-of-center culture.
Cross-posted at Blog De KingShamus. Thanks, Juliette.