Last night’s Emmy Awards crashed and burned in the ratings. And it’s no wonder. Thanks to a combination of Steven Colbert’s “courageous” attacks on President Trump and celebrations of a bunch of shows nobody watches (The Handmaid’s Tale and Big, Little Lies, anyone?), more Americans than ever tuned out. And that follows last year’s debacle, when Jimmy Kimmel’s hosting carried the show to its lowest rating to that point. Hollywood is sliding, and it can’t figure out why.
Politics does have a lot to do with it. That’s because Americans have substituted the culture wars for political dialogue. We no longer care much about policy, apparently — President Trump has spent the last two weeks cutting deals with Democrats, and most Republicans and Democrats don’t seem to be backing off their positions with regard to Trump. Trump may be governing as a centrist Democrat, but Hollywood is still painting him as a pure evil, the future leader of a fascist dystopia; Republicans, meanwhile, continue to paint him as a vigorous, burly warrior on behalf of American values. Rarely has a Republican president made so nice with Democrats; rarely has that same Republican president been treated as Nero by Democratic cultural figures.
Culture wars now matter. The Emmys — and the counterreaction to the Emmys — shift more votes than trade policy. Trump knows this, which is why he retweets gifs of himself hitting a golf ball into Hillary Clinton’s back, even as he chats it up with Hillary’s good friends Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. And Hollywood knows this too, which is why they foolishly double down on their overtly political content.
Hollywood knows that leftists triumph there, but they can’t understand why their leftist politics aren’t translating over into electoral victory. So they continue to promote more and more radical content. This, in turn, drives more Americans into the arms of the Republicans, even though Republican policy doesn’t take a hard line against the policy prescriptions of Hollywood leftists. Andrew Breitbart always argued that culture is upstream of politics. But it isn’t merely upstream anymore. It is politics, and policy has been relegated to a dry riverbed somewhere.
The losers: Hollywood, which will continue to drive viewers away; and policy-interested Americans, who will be pushed to the sidelines in favor of culture warriors.
The winners: anyone adept at fighting the culture wars, even if our politics doesn’t shift very much as a result.
Ben Shapiro, The Daily Wire, September 18, 2017