Earlier this summer, Ben Shapiro released a book called Primetime Propaganda, in which he shares the results of 39 interviews with television executives, producers, and writers. (Kathryn had a long conversation with Shapiro here.) In the book, “many TV executives admit there is a dominating left-wing presence in their industry.”
You don’t say.
I thought of Primetime Propaganda the other night when, during a bout of illness-induced insomnia, I ended up watching an Empty Nest marathon on cable. To the best of my recollection, I had never seen Empty Nest, which had its original run while I was in my teens.
One particular episode dealt with the family’s panic over a burglary in their home, along with a news report of a break-in and killing in someone else’s home. This panic led to the father and one of the daughters buying guns, against the father’s better judgment. The other daughter, a police officer, already had one.
Watching this in the small hours of the morning, zoned out on Ibuprofen and having never seen the episode before, I nonetheless knew exactly how things were about to play out: Consciences would be uneasy. The guns would be carelessly handled, even though their owners had been to a range for training. There would almost be an accident. Eventually everyone would see the light, the presence of guns in the home would be recognized as A Very Bad Thing, and all of them would be removed forthwith.
The only thing I didn’t see coming was the father piously proclaiming that he was a doctor and in the business of giving life, not taking it. Way to put down your police-officer daughter, buddy.
Now, my own career as a shooter thus far has consisted of a scant two NRA classes and two practice sessions. But even I can tell you that you can’t turn around at the range without finding either a poster, a handbook, or a teacher in your face, reminding you to keep the gun pointed away from you and other people at all times, and to always, always, always treat every gun as if it were loaded. I’ve never been around such a hyper-careful bunch of people in my entire life.
But that’s the real world (not to be confused with the TV show of the same name). On TV, the only teacher you get is a sleazy guy who marches onto the range calling cheerfully, “Who wants a bang-bang?” and gives you no safety tips whatsoever.
And the woman who was killed in her own home? Never mentioned again. Just an unimportant footnote in the story of a family who had their platitudes to protect them.
If you know sitcoms, or dramas for that matter, you’ll recognize this approach. The show may be very good, the writing original, the actors talented, but whenever politics rears its head, the treatment is always the same: banal, one-dimensional, and utterly predictable. Major international disputes can easily be settled by the innocent intervention of a cute kid or a sweet old lady. All right-thinking people (so to speak) are pro-abortion. Lorelai Gilmore on Gilmore Girls is always going to blurt out things like “I hate George Bush!” at random. If a young person takes up a political or social cause, nine times out of ten, it’s going to be environmentalism. (I used to babysit for a devout Catholic family, whose young daughter one day yelled at the TV in exasperation, “Always saving the whales! What about the unborn babies?” Out of the mouths of babes.) And a gun, in the hands of anyone outside law enforcement, is always A Very Bad Thing.
Shapiro’s book sounds terrific and I’m looking forward to reading it. It’s great that someone’s finally documented all this, and gotten the people responsible to go on the record about it. But it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s paid the slightest bit of attention to cultural trends of the past few decades. All you had to do was watch TV.
— Gina Dalfonzo is editor of BreakPoint Online and Dickensblog. Her new book ‘Bring Her Down’: How the American Media Tried to Destroy Sarah Palin, is available on Amazon.